Filmmakers Respond To Spielberg’s Netflix Battle
A report broke through on Friday that Steven Spielberg was set to propose a rule change at the next meeting of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that will make it more difficult for Netflix films and other streaming services to compete at the Oscars.
This has sparked much debate online among much of the film community from filmmakers and critics to people at various different levels of the distribution food chain and ardent cinephiles. Some find themselves on Netflix’s side, some on Spielberg’s and others are taking a more middle ground view – saying the debate goes well beyond topics like theatrical releases versus streaming or exclusivity windows.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the comments from key film influencers that have popped up on social media in the past 48 hours:
The Safdie Brothers, Directors of “Good Time”
“The harsh reality is that on average 80% every movie’s life audience experiences it on video… doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do everything we can to protect the awe-inspiring, human-assuring, peace-inducing, collective experience of theatrical film watching.” – Tweet
Guy Lodge, Critic for Variety
“It is very funny that the awards season beneficiary of this Spielberg/Netflix ideological showdown was GREEN BOOK, a film about which no one would say, ‘You have to see it in a cinema!’… Hinging the theatrical/Netflix conflict entirely on the Oscars, as Spielberg is doing, just feels small, insular and point-dodging to me.” – Tweet
Bruce Campbell, Actor In “Evil Dead” and “Burn Notice”
“Steven Spielberg is gunning to make sure Netflix never has another Oscars contender like Roma. Sorry, Mr. Spielberg, Roma ain’t no TV movie – it’s as impressive as anything out there. Platforms have become irrelevant. Make a movie with Netflix.” – Tweet
Chris Evangelista, Critic for Slashfilm
“Part of Spielberg’s argument is that Netflix should play by the same rules as every other Oscar nominee, and I do think that’s fair. I have no fealty to Netflix. I just wish he’d move beyond this ‘sacred theatrical experience’ riff, which is mostly a myth at this point.” – Tweet
Sasha Stone, Editor at AwardsDaily
“My problem is people like Spielberg have lost touch with the economic reality of average movie goers. Playing to NY and LA to satisfy idealists is elitism at its worst. Most people opt for Netflix because they can see ten movies a week if they want for the same price.” – Tweet
Dave Kehr, Curator at MoMA
“The paradox is that JAWS, as the first nationwide, TV-backed studio release, undermined the traditional platform release just as Netflix is now subverting the theatrical model. Spielberg would never have had the career he has without that “disruption” of an outdated system.” – Tweet
Erik Anderson, Editor at AwardsWatch
“Netflix has given emerging filmmakers visibility and opportunity, brought in legendary directors like Scorsese and changed their release structure to more than accommodate Oscar qualifications. This position by Spielberg seems very near-sighted and needs more voices.” – Tweet
David Ehrlich, Critic for Indiewire
“Anyone who pits Netflix against theatrical as some kind of zero-sum game is helping towards mutually assured destruction. It matters HOW movies can be seen. It matters WHO can see them. Cinema will only die if people feel they have to deny one of those ideas to support the other… if Netflix and theaters could agree to use theatrical windows as advertising campaigns for the eventual streaming release, everyone would win.” – Tweet
Richard Shepard, Director of “The Matador ” & HBO’s “Girls”
“ROMA was the best movie of year. I love Steven Spielberg he was/is a true hero of mine-but good movies r good movies-Wherever they play. And in a world where we have more JURASSIC PARKS then SHIRKERS Netflix fills a gap. Love the big screen, but love the story/heart of movie more.” – Tweet
Zack Stentz, Writer of “Thor” & “X-Men: First Class”
“If the end result of the Spielberg-Netflix dispute is Netflix committing to bigger theatrical rollouts for more of their films, it’ll be a win-win for everyone… While everyone weighs in on Spielberg vs. Netflix, it feels like we’re missing two much bigger issues. There’s a whole generation that’s stopped going to theaters except for giant branded events, and another generation behind them that’s more interested in video games than movies.
A lot of people are making the economic argument, but…Generation X was broke as s–t during the mid-90s (the Clinton boom hadn’t really gotten going yet) and still drove the indie film renaissance of that period. My bigger point here is that movies were the most vital popular art form of the 20th Century, and if we’re not careful they’re going to shrink to a niche form of storytelling with a rapidly aging audience. So what is to be done?” – Tweet
Franklin Leonard, Founder of The Blacklist
“t is my belief that @TheAcademy exists to celebrate and promote to the world the best of everything that could remotely be considered a motion picture… It isn’t even about Netflix, though they’re the most visible and least sympathetic target. It’s about every other film and filmmaker who will struggle to get access to the resources necessary to make a film but not get those allowing for a four-week exclusive theatrical release.
I also think we can all agree that it is more difficult for films by and about women, people of color, and myriad other communities to access the resources necessary to secure an exclusive four week theatrical window. The Academy is then faced with a choice between 1. finding another way to support the theatrical experience and 2. further excluding communities that have been historically excluded from its ranks, which has catastrophic consequences downwind in the industry.” – Tweet