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Lionsgate wins big at Oscars but A24 conquers with 'Moonlight'

Lionsgate wins big at Oscars but A24 conquers with 'Moonlight'
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie "La La Land." (Dale Robinette / Lionsgate / Summit)

The Oscars proved golden for Lionsgate, the Santa Monica-based mini-major whose "La La Land" took home six Academy Awards on Sunday, the most of any movie this year. But it was indie distributor A24 that stole the show with "Moonlight," which scored three awards including a surprise win for best picture.

The victory for "Moonlight" topped off a strong night for smaller and nonconventional industry players including Amazon, which scored its first Oscar wins ever with "Manchester by the Sea," which won two awards — including lead actor Casey Affleck and the original screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan — and Iran's "The Salesman," which won for foreign language film.

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Netflix also won its first Oscar Sunday with the documentary short "The White Helmets," about aid workers in Syria and Turkey.

Among the six major studios, Disney fared the best, with four Oscars, including a win for the animated "Zootopia." Warner Bros. scored two statuettes, as did Paramount, including a supporting actress win for Viola Davis in "Fences."

The New York-based A24 solidified its position as a major awards player with the best-picture win for "Moonlight." The critical darling about a gay black man coming of age also won Oscars for supporting actor Mahershala Ali and adapted screenplay.

A24 was founded in 2012 and has gained attention for releasing challenging and critically acclaimed movies. This year, it also released "20th Century Women" and "The Lobster," both of which earned screenplay nominations.

Last year, the indie company had three wins with "Room," "Ex Machina" and the documentary "Amy."

It was still a banner year for Lionsgate, which took home a total of eight statuettes for the evening, including two technical Oscars for "Hacksaw Ridge," which was also up for best picture. Lionsgate was also behind  best-picture nominee "Hell or High Water."

"La La Land," which was released through Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment label, has so far grossed more than $140 million domestically since opening in December. It has taken in more than $342 million worldwide.

The highest-grossing movie among this year's best picture nominees was Fox's "Hidden Figures," which so far has brought in more than $152 million domestically. The lowest grossing is "Moonlight" with a little more than $22 million.

Lionsgate took home a best picture statuette for Paul Haggis' "Crash" in 2005. Summit Entertainment previously scored a best picture win with "The Hurt Locker" in 2010, before the company was acquired by Lionsgate in 2012.

ESPN Films won its first Oscar on Sunday for the documentary feature "OJ: Made in America," a nearly eight-hour examination of Simpson's life and how his double-murder trial in 1995 was a product of L.A.'s complex racial history. The production company is majority owned by Disney.

At last year's ceremony, Warner Bros. took home the most Oscars thanks to the six wins for "Max Max: Fury Road." The best picture winner "Spotlight" was distributed by the indie house Open Road Films.

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