If 14 Oscar nominations for La La Land weren’t enough proof of Hollywood’s unending capacity for self-love, perhaps there’s another example to be found in Amazon’s Manchester By the Sea. The movie is being hailed as the first-ever Best Picture nomination for a streaming service, but there’s an important caveat to that accomplishment: Amazon Studios brought it to market in a traditionally Hollywood-friendly way.
After scooping it up from the Sundance Film Festival a year ago, the company partnered with Roadside Attractions to distribute the movie theatrically in November 2016. But the movie won’t be available to stream on Amazon Prime until early February—that’s a decent release window, and Hollywood likes release windows. As Variety notes, this is crucially different than the Netflix model, which favors as-soon-as-possible streaming and sees theatrical distribution as an afterthought—something it does only so it can qualify for awards.
Some traditional studios are also looking for ways to narrow release windows, but it’s not going to happen all at once. Disruption tends to happen in small pieces, and of course no one gets that concept better than Amazon.