Netflix’s PR office has been a mess for a long time. Tonight comes news that Julie Fontaine, formerly of Lions Gate, is out as publicity chief in Los Angeles.
Only a few weeks ago, Nancy Bannister, who everyone loved and depended on, formerly of Paramount, left the New York office.
What’s going on? Too many movies, too many cooks in the kitchen, no clear delineations. In Los Angeles, who remains is Lisa Taback, head of awards, whose surgically precise campaigns yielded Netflix dozens of nominations but just two Oscars last season, for Laura Dern, as Best Supporting Actress, and the documentary, “American Factory.” Taback’s budget was said to be north of $100 million.
Netflix really had a hot hand last season, with Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” Fernando Mereilles’s “Two Popes,” the documentary “American Factory,” and the animated film, “Klaus.”
Fontaine’s exit comes just a couple of weeks before Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” is going to hit the platform. It might have had a small theatrical release, but with the pandemic, that’s not happening. Still, Spike’s movie will be eligible for Oscars.
Whoever takes over the PR department, Netflix has some advantage this year since they can release movies without putting them in theaters and still be eligible. Thanks to the pandemic they also avoided their annual fight with the Cannes Film Festival. Will this make the season more pleasant? I certainly hope so since last year was something no one wants to go through again.
And the question is, can anyone in the entertainment press and the “Oscar business” that has developed so grindingly over the last few years, can anyone endure the mishegos of past seasons post-pandemic? (Uh, not me, that ship has sailed.)
So hang on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.