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Fox Searchlight dominates Oscars, with strong showing from Warner Bros.

Fox Searchlight dominates Oscars, with strong showing from Warner Bros.
Producer-director Guillermo del Toro and producer J. Miles Dale hold their best-picture Oscars for "The Shape of Water," at the 90th Academy Awards on Sundayat the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The movie was released by Fox Searchlight. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Buoyed by "The Shape of Water," Fox Searchlight Pictures took home more Oscars than any other studio at the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday with six statuettes.

The best picture victory for "Shape" extends Searchlight's enviable winning streak, which has seen the independent film label score best picture for "Birdman," "12 Years a Slave" and "Slumdog Millionaire" in the last 10 years.

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Warner Bros. put in a strong showing with five Oscars in the technical categories for "Dunkirk" and "Blade Runner 2049," while Universal received four statuettes. Fox was the leader going into Sunday's ceremony with 27 nominations, with Searchlight accounting for 20 of those.

"Shape's" Guillermo del Toro singled out the indie studio in his acceptance speech for directing.

"The place I like to live the most is Fox Searchlight," he said, adding that he pitched the studio by inviting executives to see illustrations and a maquette of the movie's amphibian character. The movie won four Oscars, including prizes for score and production design.

"The Shape of Water" has so far grossed slightly more than $57 million domestically and more than $126 million worldwide. Searchlight financed the $19.5-million movie.

Searchlight, which is a division of 20th Century Fox Film, also received two Oscars for "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri," for lead actress Frances McDormand and supporting actor Sam Rockwell.

Walt Disney Co. is acquiring most of parent company 21st Century Fox, including its film and TV studios, in a historic $52.4-billion deal that was announced in December. Searchlight co-presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula recently told the Times that they are optimistic about the transition.

"The signals from Disney, both public and private, have been that they appreciate the movies we make," Utley said.

Fox Searchlight co-presidents Stephen A. Gilula, right, and Nancy Utley, at Fox Searchlight headquarters in Los Angeles in January. The independent film studio, which is part of 20th Century Fox Film, dominated this year's Academy Awards.
Fox Searchlight co-presidents Stephen A. Gilula, right, and Nancy Utley, at Fox Searchlight headquarters in Los Angeles in January. The independent film studio, which is part of 20th Century Fox Film, dominated this year's Academy Awards. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Disney won two Oscars for the animated feature "Coco," which was made by Pixar.

On Sunday, Universal got a boost from its own indie division, Focus Features, with two statuettes for "Darkest Hour" and one for "Phantom Thread." The studio also saw "Get Out" take home the original screenplay Oscar.

Sony won two awards, with "Call Me by Your Name" for adapted screenplay and "A Fantastic Woman" for foreign-language film. Both films were released by its Sony Pictures Classics division. The studio also co-financed "Blade Runner 2049," which received two Oscars, though the movie was released domestically by Warner Bros.

Netflix went home with only one Oscar, for the feature documentary "Icarus," about doping in the sport of cycling.

Perhaps the most unlikely winner on Sunday was Verizon. Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant thanked the telecommunications giant when the athlete won for the animated short film "Dear Basketball." The movie is available to watch on Verizon's Go90 mobile platform.

Last year, Lionsgate took home eight statuettes, the most of any studio, thanks to "La La Land," which was released by the company's Summit Entertainment division. But New York indie house A24 stole the show with its surprise best-picture win for "Moonlight."

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This year neither Lionsgate nor A24, the latter of which released the Oscar-nominated movie "Lady Bird," received Oscars.

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