News ID: 239169
Published: 0352 GMT February 20, 2019

Vue cinemas threaten BAFTA boycott over awards success of 'Roma'

Vue cinemas threaten BAFTA boycott over awards success of 'Roma'

One of the UK's biggest cinema chains, Vue, threatened to boycott the BAFTAs after the success of Alfonso Cuarón's 'Roma' at its recent ceremony, where it won four awards including best film.

According to, in an open letter, Vue's chief executive Tim Richards said BAFTA had broken its own rules by allowing 'Roma' to be eligible for its awards, saying: "We believe that BAFTA has not lived up to its usual high standards this year in choosing to endorse and promote a 'made for TV' film that audiences were unable to see on a big screen."

He added: "It saddens me that the Academy has chosen to ignore the opportunity to defend this principle. I regret that in future we will not be able to support the BAFTA awards as we usually do unless the Academy board reconsiders its eligibility criteria."

Distribution rights of 'Roma' were purchased by streaming giant Netflix, who opted to give the film a short run in cinemas before releasing it on its website. However, Richards says that, while "Cuarón is an incredible filmmaker for whom I have a huge amount of respect", the film's tiny cinema release should have resulted its exclusion from the BAFTA awards. Citing BAFTA's own regulation that "films should not be screened purely to qualify them for these awards", Richards said: "It is clear that Netflix made at best a token effort to screen 'Roma', screening it to less than one percent of the UK market solely because it wanted an award. How could BAFTA let this happen?"

While Netflix has a deal with UK distributors Curzon to release its films in its chain of arthouse cinemas, it does not report box office figures to data analysts Comscore, who provide information for the box office charts. Richards said Netflix's "tactics and secrecy … is another example of how Netflix acts outside the industry while at the same time it craves its acceptance".

Richards is particularly aggrieved that Netflix has failed to respect the 'box office window', the traditional period at the start of a major film's release during which it is only available in cinemas.

"Imagine the message that could have been sent by BAFTA if Netflix were forced to abide by the rules underlining the principle that a film must have a full theatrical release, otherwise it’s just a 'made-for-TV' production."

In a statement, BAFTA denied any wrongdoing saying: "The Film Committee is satisfied that every film in contention for this year's Film Awards met the criteria for entry, which includes a meaningful UK theatrical release … We review our criteria annually in close consultation with the industry to ensure that our eligibility criteria remain fit for purpose."


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