Netflix has now officially responded to the report that Steven Spielberg is engaged in efforts at the next meeting of the Academy Board of Governors in April to stop the streaming service from being potentially nominated by A.M.P.A.S. members for Oscars.
Conversation of the topic has dominated Film Twitter for much of the weekend and Netflix has seemingly weighed in with a comment that doesn’t mention the director by name, but argued that it loves cinema and is providing more people with access to films:
“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 is one of the members of the governors board at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and reportedly plans to propose a rules change that would bar films that debut on streaming services or have only a limited exclusive run in theaters from contention for awards – believing these movies should be eligible for Emmys instead.
Others have expressed concern about the impact any such rule changes will have on smaller theatrical films (one week qualifying runs may have to become one month qualifying runs), and the debate has spilled over into larger topics of exclusivity windows, the value of the “theatrical experience”, Spielberg’s own change from being initially a disruptor to now defending Hollywood against them, and the hypocrisy of A.M.P.A.S. voters telling people to see films in cinemas when they receive screeners so they don’t have to.
Netflix won four Oscars at this year’s awards, including three for the highly acclaimed “Roma,” but lost out best picture to the more mixed received “Green Book” which Spielberg’s company Amblin Partners produced. One person in Netflix’s corner is filmmaker Ben Affleck who, whilst speaking with Cinema Blend about the making of Netflix’s “Triple Frontier,” said this week:
“We certainly approached [Triple Frontier] as any other movie. There’s no difference when you’re making it between what the platform is that it’s going to be seen on. I do think Netflix is doing more interesting stuff in creating a more cinematic experience for the home. More people, more viewers, bigger TVs, bigger sound. They’re doing Dolby Cinema color correction, they do Dolby Atmos sound mixes. So they’re sort of synthesizing the theatrical with the home viewing experience in a kind of interesting way. It’s all changing very fast.”
This whole debate comes at a critical time – Martin Scorsese (a friend of Spielberg) is pushing for a wide theatrical release of his Netflix film “The Irishman” in October, Amazon is ditching its traditional theatrical release plans for more flexible distribution strategies, and the three biggest of the major five studios will all launch streaming platforms with original films in the next year or so and it’s unclear if the films they produce will also be eligible for Oscars.