Netflix is hitting back at Steven Spielberg’s efforts to stop the streaming service from being nominated for Oscars. Without mentioning the “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park” director by name, the company released a statement on Twitter arguing that it loved cinema and was providing more people with access to films.
“We love cinema. Here are some things we also love,” Netflix tweeted. “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, one of the members of the board of governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, 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. He believes these movies should be eligible for Emmys instead.
Netflix won four Oscars at this year’s awards, including three statues for Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma.” It scored a directing honor for Cuaron, but lost out in the best picture race to Universal’s “Green Book,” a civil rights drama that was produced by Spielberg’s company Amblin Partners and Participant Media.
Netflix was initially insistent that all of its films would premiere simultaneously on streaming platforms and in theaters. However, it has changed that stance. “Roma” had an exclusive three-week theatrical run and upcoming films such as J.C. Chandor’s “Triple Frontier” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” will also bow in theaters before they start streaming. Scorsese is looking for the streaming service to have its widest-ever theatrical release, but exhibitors may have other plans. They have resisted Netflix’s overtures and want the company to agree to show its films in theaters for roughly three months before sharing them with their subscribers.
The debate should grow more heated as new players enter the fray. Disney, WarnerMedia, and Comcast are all launching streaming platforms. It’s unclear if the films they produce will be eligible for Oscars. At the same time, Amazon, which had traditional theatrical releases for its films, has signaled it wants to experiment with distribution strategies.
“We are looking at a variety of windows,” Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke recently told Variety. Salke is also planning a slate of films that will debut on the company’s streaming platform instead of in theaters.
A spokesperson for Spielberg told IndieWire that the director thinks there’s a difference.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” an Amblin spokesperson. “He’ll be happy if the others will join (his campaign) when that comes up. He will see what happens.”