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Netflix responds to Steven Spielberg as he ramps up streaming battle

Steven Spielberg has been in the news lately, and not for reasons relating to INDIANA JONES 5. No, news broke recently that the Oscar-winning director plans to go to the Academy next month and speak out against streaming services like Netflix, saying their movies shouldn’t be eligible for Oscars as they don’t adhere to a more “theatrical experience.” After the internet spent several days blasting the director for his concerns Netflix has finally issued a response to the news, albeit in a sneaky way that’s befitting of their style.

After Film Twitter had a field day chastising the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and READY PLAYER ONE director – referring to him as an old man shouting at clouds or complaining that he can’t rewind his DVDs like the “old tapes” – Netflix shared their words, and though didn’t refer to him by name, reaffirmed they’re committed to the filmgoing experience.

This all started a few days after the Oscars last Sunday, in which Netflix’s ROMA walked away with several Oscars, including Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron), and was up for Best Picture. The movie lost to GREEN BOOK (which Spielberg championed), and it didn’t take long for news to break that the filmmaker would be speaking to the Academy about changing up their rules to exclude streaming service movies when the organization convenes for their post-Oscar meeting next month. According to a spokesperson for Amblin, “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. 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.”

There has also been the issue over the fact Netflix doesn’t provide any details about box office or streaming numbers, and though that’s certainly a bit sketchy, the service has grown laxer on their distribution method. At one point being all streaming day-and-date or nothing (sans an Oscar competitor or two), Netflix is starting to provide more theatrical windows to movies. ROMA was in theaters for two weeks before hitting the service, and such is the plan this year for J.C. Chandor’s TRIPLE FRONTIER and this fall’s THE IRISHMAN, directed by a long-time pal of Spielberg, Martin Scorsese.

People have been quick to clap back at Spielberg, with directors like Ava DuVernay (SELMA, A WRINKLE IN TIME) of Netflix’s acclaimed documentary 13TH responding in support of the service supporting diverse voices and giving movies studios would deem “risky” a fair shot.

One of the things I value about Netflix is that it distributes black work far/wide. 190 countries will get WHEN THEY SEE US. Here’s a promo for South Africa. I’ve had just one film distributed wide internationally. Not SELMA. Not WRINKLE. It was 13TH. By Netflix. That matters.

This whole battle between streaming sites and some of the more traditional-minded filmmakers needs to come to an end because, and it's basically fact, the latter will lose at the end of the day. The landscape of movies is changing, and services like Netflix have a strong place in it. That doesn't mean people won't show out for or award Spielberg movies, but now the stage has to make room for more players. Best make room, Mr. Spielberg. 

Source: Netflix

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