A year after Netflix got into a scuffle with the Cannes Film Festival over a rule change, the streaming service has picked another FILM FIGHT, this time with Steven Spielberg. He directed Jaws, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan. You might have heard of him. Spielberg is none too happy that Netflix movies are eligible for the Academy Awards, despite limited theatrical-release windows and no reported box office totals. “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” an Amblin Entertainment (his production company with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall) spokesperson said. “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.”
Here’s more on the brewing battle via Indiewire:
“There’s a growing sense that if [Netflix] is going to behave like a studio, there should be some sort of standard,” said one Academy governor. “The rules were put into effect when no one could conceive of this present or this future. We need a little clarity.”
On Sunday, Netflix responded to Spielberg (who supported Green Book over Roma in the Best Picture race) and pushed back against his comments. “We love cinema,” the streaming titan tweeted. “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.”
It’s a tricky situation because… both sides are right? Spielberg, because Netflix’s secretiveness is a little shady and, as he’s previously said, “the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” and Netflix, because not everyone lives in Los Angeles; the streamer is making it easier (and more financially feasible) for people in middle-of-nowhere Idaho, without a nearby boutique theater, to see something like Roma. It’s hard to imagine that a black-and-white foreign-language film about a housekeeper would have received half as much attention if not for Netflix’s backing, even with the involvement of Alfonso Cuarón.
Not every high-profile director is on Spielberg’s side. “Dear @TheAcademy, This is a Board of Governors meeting. And regular branch members can’t be there,” Golden Globe-nominee Ava DuVernay (13th, which debuted on… Netflix) tweeted in response to an article about Spielberg attending the meeting. “But I hope if this is true, that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently. Thanks, Ava DuVernay.”
The Academy meeting is scheduled for April, so until then, let’s all watch something on Netflix. Maybe Schindler’s List? Or the Indiana Jones movies?