- The director Steven Spielberg plans to lead a campaign to change Oscars rules to limit streaming services like Netflix from competing.
- Netflix responded to Spielberg’s criticism on Twitter on Sunday: “We love cinema.”
- Spielberg’s war on streaming represents a larger debate about Netflix at the Oscars that loomed over this year’s awards season.
Steven Spielberg doesn’t want Netflix anywhere near the Oscars.
The veteran filmmaker is expected to lead a campaign to change Oscars rules to limit participation from streaming services like Netflix, according to Indiewire. Spielberg, the governor representing the director’s branch in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the group that votes on the Oscars), is expected to propose the changes at the meeting of the Academy’s board of governors next month.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” a representative for Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Entertainment, told Indiewire. “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.”
“Awards rules discussions are ongoing with the branches,” the Academy told Indiewire in a statement. “And the Board will likely consider the topic at the April meeting.”
Netflix responded to Spielberg’s criticism on Twitter on Sunday.
The full quote is below:
“We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:
“-Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters
“-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
“-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art
“These things are not mutually exclusive.”
Spielberg has opposed Netflix’s presence at the Oscars for some time, and he’s argued that the streaming giant should compete solely for Emmys. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” he said in an interview with ITV News last year.
Last month, Spielberg took more jabs at streaming at the Cinema Audio Society Awards.
“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,” he said. “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”
He continued: “I love television. I love the opportunity. Some of the greatest writing being done today is for television, some of the best directing for television, some of the best performances [are] on television today. The sound is better in homes more than it ever has been in history, but there’s nothing like going to a big dark theater with people you’ve never met before and having the experience wash over you. That’s something we all truly believe in.”
Spielberg’s comments represent a larger debate about Netflix as part of the Oscars conversation.
The industry disruptor has faced pushback throughout Hollywood and the film industry, most notably when it pulled out of the Cannes Film Festival last year after a rule change banned any films without a theatrical distribution in France.
Netflix went to great lengths this awards season to sway the debate in its favor, and it pushed hard for Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” in the best picture race. Netflix gave the movie an unprecedented exclusive theatrical release before it made it available to stream (it usually releases its content in theaters and on streaming at the same time). It also spent at least $20 million on its Oscar campaign, according to The New York Times.
“Roma” ultimately lost best picture to the controversial “Green Book,” but the movie still won awards for directing and cinematography and for best foreign-language film. Netflix also won the prize for best documentary short for “Period. End of Sentence.” The streamer was nominated for 15 Oscars this year.
Film studios have raised concerns with the amount Netflix spent on the campaign, with how long “Roma” was a theatrical exclusive (just three weeks), and with the fact Netflix doesn’t report box office sales, according to Indiewire.
Still, its nominations and wins this year suggest that the Oscars are more open to Netflix than they were even a few years ago.