Neon's Tom Quinn on Bong Joon Ho's Historic Oscar Wins for 'Parasite': "I'm in Absolute Shock"

The production and distribution company co-founder discusses Bong's awards haul, its statement about world cinema and what his own mother had to say about the epic night.
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Bong Joon Ho (left) and Tom Quinn

Tom Quinn didn't quite know what to think.

Heading into Sunday's Academy Awards, the Neon co-founder thought it was possible that the Parasite team could capitalize on four of six Oscar nominations. Secretly, that's what he hoped for simply because he liked the way four looked when he raised that number of fingers. "But the reality is, I was worried we were going to win nothing," Quinn explained just after 10:30 p.m. from the dining room deck inside Soho House West Hollywood. "I know, mathematically, we were going to walk away with something, but I thought it was historic to be up to bat at all. To be standing here now after having won best screenplay, best director, best international feature and best picture, I'm in absolute shock. It's a win for all of us. I couldn't be happier with the power of cinema."

He was also quick to point out that the wins also represent the power of filmmaker Bong Joon Ho. Neon acquired the South Korean director's script for Parasite in 2018, carrying it all the way through production, a world premiere (and Palme d'Or win) at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019 and a dizzying awards season during which Bong cast a charming spell on critics, audiences and awards groups. To the casual Oscars observer, it might have seemed like an overnight success, but Quinn says the industry knows better. 

"It's a brilliant movie, but Bong has been making brilliant movies for over 20 years. He's never made a bad movie, and he's been building currency and fans across this industry steadily back to 2000," explained Quinn, who name-checked the filmmaker's previous works like Okja, Snowpiercer, Memories of Murder and The Host. "He made a movie [in Parasite] that brought all of that together, and the world at this point in time needs a great story. It needs a good story to feel fucking good about what could happen. This is it."

The good emotions started, for Quinn, courtesy of another filmmaker: Barry Jenkins. "Moonlight saved me from a year of despair, a year of turmoil and a world that felt like it was on fire," he said of 2017 when that film won best picture honors. "That movie made me think that things that were amazing and hopeful could actually happen, and winning tonight reinforced that again. We're in a good place moving forward."

Regarding the immediate future, Neon will expand the release of Parasite in the wake of its historic awards showing to 2,000 or more locations, double its current reach. The Oscar-winning film has grossed north of $35 million domestic and $165 million internationally to date, and it will only climb in coming weeks. That means more work for Neon, but Quinn said his production and distribution company is up for the challenge. "I'm just so happy for the team and for the validation of their work and our singular intent on supporting cinema. Bong does it better than anybody else," he continued. "The Neon team worked their asses off to get here, all in the service of this amazing movie." 

As the space surrounding Quinn started to fill up with revelers eager to toast his company and their partners at CJ Entertainment, Quinn had one last word about the day's haul: "You know what? I'm left with what my mother said. I brought her to the Oscars — God love her. She said, 'You know what? You should bring your mother more often to the Oscars. I'm your good luck charm.'"