Streaming giant Netflix received strong support from filmmakers behind “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” at the Producers Guild of America’s nominees panel on Saturday at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.
Jane Rosenthal, one of “The Irishman” producers, said Netflix embraced the vision that she and Martin Scorsese had for the $170 million film. The time-jumping epic received a limited theatrical release prior to its Nov. 29 streaming release.
“Netflix has been extraordinary,” Rosenthal said. “Our business is changing. We still want to see movies in theaters. I think more people will wind up seeing a DeNiro-Scorsese movie than their other movies combined. As a filmmaker and producer, our goal is to get people to see our movies. It really has been an extraordinary experience.”
Noah Baumbach, director-producer of “Marriage Story,” was effusive in his praise of Netflix for re-opening New York City’s Paris Theater — one of the oldest art movie houses in the United States and the last single-screen theater in New York. Netflix announced on Nov. 25 a lease agreement to keep the theater open.
“Netflix saved and resuscitated the Paris Theater,” Baumbach said. “You can’t ask for a better theatrical experience. They found ways to eventize more filmmaker-driven movies. They are looking to bring back the elegance of going to a movie theater. It’s sad in New York that all these great theaters have closed. That was a real thrill to go to the Paris and have a full house watching my movie.”
Netflix gave “Marriage Story” a limited release in theaters on Nov. 6 prior to its streaming release on Dec. 6.
The Saturday morning panel is a prelude to the 31st Annual PGA Awards at The Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. The event included producers of all 10 films nominated for the Darryl F. Zanuck Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures — Pippa Harris for “1917,” Jenno Topping for “Ford v. Ferrari,” Carthew Neal for “Jojo Rabbit,” Emma Tillinger Koskoff for “Joker,” Ram Bergman for “Knives Out,” Amy Pascal for “Little Women,” David Heyman who is double nominated for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “Marriage Story” and Bong Joon Ho for “Parasite.”
PGA Co-President Lucy Fisher conducted the panel before about 600 attendees as producers tackled a wide range of questions. Fisher noted that Pascal had served as a Sony executive on the 1994 version of “Little Women” in addition to producing the 2019 film and asked her to contrast the two projects.
Pascal responded by saying the biggest was in Florence Pugh’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of Amy and the audience’s positive reaction to it. She also credited director-writer Greta Gerwig.
“The reason to make this movie was 100% Greta Gerwig,” Pascal said. “She made the movie that she set out to make. It was one of the greatest professional experiences I’ve ever had.”
Heyman responded to a query about the major challenges he faced on Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Heyman answered, “One of the most challenging parts was that Quentin does not have a mobile phone and he can be hard to get hold of.”
He also recalled Tarantino made extensive efforts to get Los Angeles to allow him to shoot on several blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. “Quentin wanted to tell a story about growing up in Hollywood in 1969,” he said. “This is a film about Quentin’s love of movies.”
Ho explained through a translator that US and Korean audiences had similar responses to “Parasite,” which opens with the universal search for Wifi and added, “The story is about the rich and poor. Wherever you live, we live in a world of capitalism.”