Since March 2018, legendary film maker Steven Spielberg became a publicly vocal opponent of Netflix films receiving equal treatment at the Oscars as theatrical releases. Spielberg is understood to be raising this issue at the next Academy meeting this month (March 2019).
Spielberg is the Academy Governor of the directors branch and will be pushing for changes to the awards rules at the annual post-Oscars meeting.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” an Amblin spokesperson said. “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.”
The legendary director has spoken out in the past about his belief that Netflix films should only be eligible for Emmys rather than Oscars. However, it’s unclear what specific changes he would call for.
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,”
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” Spielberg told ITV News in March 2018. “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.”
Depending on the rule changes, there could be implications for films outside Netflix. Films made and released independently don’t spend much more time in the theater than the “token qualifications” Spielberg speak of.
“I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”
Spielberg’s argument is focused around the integrity of the movie theatre’s viewing experience.
“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.”
Do you agree with Spielberg?
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