Steven Spielberg planning to voice concerns about Netflix at Academy meeting

Steven Spielberg, Netflix

It wasn't that all that long ago that the idea of a Netflix movie being a serious contender at the Academy Awards would have been laughable, but fresh off the 91st Academy Awards, Alfonso Cuaron's ROMA took home the awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Foreign Language Film, and many had the film pegged to take home Best Picture as well. With the streaming giant set to unleash more potential Oscar contenders in future, including Martin Scorsese's THE IRISHMAN, some believe that Netflix aren't playing by the same rules as the rest of the major studios.

Steven Spielberg has previously made his position on Netflix films clear, saying that he doesn't "believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination." Per IndieWire, Spielberg will be voicing his concerns about Netflix during the upcoming Academy Board of Governors meeting, where he represents the directors branch. Steven Spielberg has long been a champion of the theatrical experience, and, with every few exceptions, most Netflix films do not get a theatrical release. Those that do make it to theaters do so for far less time than the minimum 90 day window which most theater chains demand between theatrical exhibition and home viewing. "Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie," Spielberg said last year. "You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination." It's clear that Spielberg wants to propose changes to the Academy's rules which will either keep Netflix films from competing or force the streaming company to release more of their films theatrically. In a statement, an Amblin Entertainment spokesperson said:

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.

A spokesperson for the Academy added, "Awards rules discussions are ongoing with the branches. And the Board will likely consider the topic at the April meeting." Studios have had other complaints regarding Netflix spending too much on Awards campaigns and not reporting box-office, but neither of these are violations of the Academy guidelines. By their own rules, in order for a feature-film to be eligible for an Academy Award, it must have screened theatrically for "at least seven consecutive days," something Netflix certainly did with ROMA. "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." If the rules are changed to make it more difficult for Netflix films to qualify, they'd also be making it harder on smaller indie films who don't have the power of Netflix money behind them.

We'll likely see this issue come to a head as the release of Martin Scorsese's THE IRISHMAN gets closer. Scorsese has reportedly asked Netflix to give the film a wide theatrical release, and the company is working to make it happen. Personally, I would like to see Netflix release more of their films theatrically. Getting to see these films on the big-screen is still a very special experience which is hard to replicate at home. That said, if the film is worthy, I see no reason why Netflix movies shouldn't be eligible for the Academy Awards, regardless of whether they've only met the minimum requirements theatrical release. What do you folks think?

Source: IndieWire



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