Cineworld withdraws its support from BAFTA over its policy on streaming movies

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Roma (Credit: Netflix)

The cinema chain Cineworld has withdrawn its support from BAFTA, following wins for the streaming movie Roma at this year’s awards.

Writing to BAFTA members, the Academy’s film committee chairman Marc Samuelson said that the company, the second largest chain in the world in terms of screen numbers, had made ‘a unilateral decision’ to revoke its support.

It cited ‘concerns regarding the eligibility requirements of the Film Awards’, in a continuing row over whether films made by streaming studios should be allowed a cursory theatrical release in order to gain eligibility for BAFTA awards.

Read more: Lumley’s BAFTA gags ‘a train wreck’

The letter added that BAFTA members will no longer be able to use their membership cards to watch films at Cineworld branches from Monday to Thursday.

Cineworld is not the only chain to voice their concern over such practices.

After Roma, made by Netflix and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, won the BAFTA for Best Film last month along with three other awards, Tim Richards, the CEO of the Vue chain of cinemas, also threatened a boycott of the British film academy.

Read more: Vue goes to war with BAFTA over ‘made for TV’ films

In an open letter, he said: “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.”

He also called Roma, which won Cuarón the Oscar for Best Director as well as gongs for Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography, a ‘made for TV’ film.

“It is clear that Netflix made at best a token effort to screen Roma, screening it to less than 1% of the UK market solely because it wanted an award. How could Bafta let this happen?” he went on.

Cineworld is yet to comment on the decision.