Steven Spielberg Takes Veiled Shot at Streamers, Urges Filmmakers to Make Movies for Theaters

Steven Spielberg is continuing his quest to push filmmakers to make movies for theaters and not just for television.

“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” the directing legend said on Saturday night while accepting the Filmmaker Award at the Cinema Audio Society’s CAS Awards at the InterContinental Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”

While he didn’t mention any one streaming service or network by name, Spielberg said, “I love television. I love the opportunity. Some of the greatest writing being done today is for television, some of the best directing for television, some of the best performances [are] on television today. The sound is better in homes more than it ever has been in history but there’s nothing like going to a big dark theater with people you’ve never met before and having the experience wash over you. That’s something we all truly believe in.”

In March 2018, Spielberg spoke out against Netflix films earning Oscar recognition. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” he told ITV News. “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.”

Netflix’s “Roma” is going into the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24 with 10 nominations, including best picture and best director for Alfonso Cuarón, after it was offered in a limited, theatrical window.

While speaking at Variety’s annual Dealmakers breakfast in December, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos raised eyebrows when he said, “I love the theatrical experience and we’re not in conflict with anyone, I think we’re a complement to each other. [“Roma”] is awesome on the big screen, but most of the world does not have access to do that. What I want to do is connect people with movies they’re going to love. And they’re going to love ‘Roma.’ They’re going to love it on their phone, they’re going to love it on a huge big screen.”

Bradley Cooper presented the award to Spielberg “for consistently pushing the envelope over decades of incredible work and for appreciating the contributions that sound has made not only to your films but to movies.”

The “A Star Is Born” director said Spielberg is an idol to every “first-time director,” but then he added, “f— that — [to] every since director.”