Membership

Sign of the Times: MPAA Welcomes Netflix as a Member

By / Jan 23, 2019 A scene from Netflix’s recent hit ”Bird Box,“ a streaming-only release starring Sandra Bullock, center. (Netflix)

The streaming service is the first member of the film industry trade group that isn’t a traditional studio. It comes during an awards season in which Netflix is scoring big.

When it comes to streaming services, the Motion Picture Association of America isn’t looking at them blindfolded anymore—it knows they’re worthy of the group’s membership.

This week, MPAA welcomed Netflix into the fold as a member, a move that effectively finalizes the company’s long evolution from movie rental disruptor to established content-producing icon in its own right. Netflix is MPAA’s first member that isn’t one of the six major studios. In comments regarding the addition, MPAA Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin described the move as one that would better respect creator rights in a new era.

“All of our members are committed to pushing the film and television industry forward, in both how we tell stories and how we reach audiences,” Rivkin explained in a news release. “Adding Netflix will allow us to even more effectively advocate for the global community of creative storytellers, and I look forward to seeing what we can all achieve together.”

The company’s popular streaming service has created a series of buzzworthy film and television hits in recent years—most recently the documentary Fyre, the Coen brothers anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and the heavily memed dystopian sci-fi thriller Bird Box.

But capping its status as an establishment film force, the company gained its first best picture nomination at the Academy Awards this week with the film Roma, which briefly appeared in theaters to meet Academy requirements. It was one of 15 nominations the company received this year—Roma received 10, Scruggs received three, and the company also received two in the documentary short subject category.

The nominations came despite a boycott of Roma by some major theater chains.

The move to add Netflix to MPAA’s lineup reflects something of a cultural sea change in the film industry. It also solves a problem for the trade group, which was about to lose a member—and potentially up to $12 million in annual dues—as a result of Disney’s expected acquisition of Fox, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The association is said to be considering the addition of other nontraditional members that have gained prominence in the streaming era, including Amazon.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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