Can we settle for Steven Spielberg and Netflix as a blissful couple, or are the pair nonetheless unfit for each other? Yesterday (June 21), Netflix and Spielberg announced they’d lastly put their previous behind them, signing a deal to make a number of movies beneath the director’s Amblin Productions banner. But Spielberg has a lengthy historical past with the mega-streamer, with a lot of combined messages from each events, in addition to subtweeting, Oscar beef, and extra. So is Steven Spielberg a hypocrite? Has Netflix backed down? Let’s break down the difficult historical past between Spielberg and Netflix.
It all began again in March of 2018. Before he totally took on Netflix, Spielberg made a handful of feedback rejecting the notion that streaming movies ought to compete in Academy Awards season. Instead, the director appeared to counsel that they had been Emmy eligible, calling them “TV movies.”
“I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nominations,” Spielberg said on the time. “Fewer and fewer filmmakers are going to struggle to raise money or to compete at Sundance and possibly get one of the specialty labels to release their films theatrically. And more of them are going to let the SVOD businesses finance their films, maybe with the promise of a slight, one-week theatrical window to qualify for awards. But, in fact, once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie.”
Then the feud started in earnest in early 2019 when Netflix’s Roma was nominated for a rating of Oscars. Spielberg was an advocate for its competitor, Green Book, a Universal movie with an in-theater launch (that finally received the Oscar for Best Picture). Around the identical time, the legendary director made some thinly-veiled digs on the streamer. While nonetheless lauding tv, he harassed the necessity for motion pictures with theatrical experiences.
“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” Spielberg said whereas accepting an award on the Cinema Audio Society Awards. “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”
Things solely escalated after the 2019 Oscar season concluded, with Roma nabbing awards like Best Director and Best Foreign Language Film. Spielberg was serving as an Academy Governor representing the administrators department of the Oscars, and he was reportedly set to marketing campaign in opposition to Netflix. Eager to assist rule modifications when it got here to streaming movies on the Oscars, Spielberg apparently set out to ensure one other Netflix movie like Roma couldn’t dominate on the competitors.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” an Amblin spokesperson explained on the time. “He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”
Netflix shot again with a subtweet simply a few days after Spielberg opened up about his “campaign.” Netflix listed out the entire facilities the platform gives, like giving filmmakers “more ways to share art.”
“We love cinema,” the streamer wrote, rattling off what makes the platform totally different from film theaters, like entry for those that can’t afford theaters and permitting everybody to get pleasure from releases on the identical time. “These things are not mutually exclusive.”
Just when it appeared the battle couldn’t get any tenser, a shut pal of Steven Spielberg jumped in to clear the air. Colleague Jeffrey Katzenberg, the person behind Shrek and Quibi, set the report straight, saying that the “feud” was truly only one massive misunderstanding.
“I talked to Steven about this yesterday. I asked him very specifically — I don’t have any skin in this game anymore — he said, ‘I absolutely did not say that,’” said Katzenberg whereas talking on a panel at South by Southwest on March 8, 2019. “He actually said nothing.”
Katzenberg continued to clarify why the feud was “twisted,” saying that there was no marketing campaign with the Academy and that Spielberg hadn’t aligned himself both approach.
“What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven,” Katzenberg stated. “They called a spokesperson to get a comment and honestly, just twisted it around. One, Steven didn’t say that, and two, he is not going to the Academy in April with some sort of plan. But he has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing.”
Jump ahead two years, and Netflix and Spielberg are formally working collectively. So does that imply Spielberg is all in on the Netflix mannequin? Not essentially. Even if Spielberg is formally working with Netflix, he should prescribe to the idea that Netflix movies are “TV movies,” due to this fact rendering them ineligible for Oscars. In reality, he could be trying to create TV motion pictures, able to enter them within the Emmy Awards as a substitute of the Oscars. Or maybe, like Katzenberg advised, the unique feud was simply a “rumor.” Either approach, Netflix and Spielberg at the moment are financially tied collectively — whether or not that makes Spielberg a “hypocrite” or not is as much as audiences.
“At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted [Sarandos] and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways,” enthused Spielberg in a assertion. “This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott, and the entire Netflix team.”