Steven Spielberg has said that Netflix films should not be eligible for Academy Awards.
The streaming giant won its first feature film Oscar this year, with Russian doping exposé Icarus taking home the prize for Best Documentary. Ava DuVernay’s important documentary 13th was nominated for the same award the year before, while Dee Rees’ power historical drama Mudbound was also nominated for an Oscar. However, the Jurassic Park and E.T. believes that they should not have been in contention at all.
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” he said in a recent interview with ITV News. “If it’s a good show, it deserves an Emmy, but not an Oscar.”
The comments are the latest anti-Netflix sentiment to be expressed within the industry, as Cannes this week has also confirmed that Netflix movies cannot compete for any awards at the festival.
The issue with Cannes stems from France’s distribution laws, which prevent films from being released online for three years if they screen in cinemas. Netflix attempted to negotiate a temporary release in French theatres while still releasing it online at the same time, but the request was refused. Spielberg’s concerns are along similar lines, as he stands against the idea of token releases in cinemas.
“It is a challenge to cinema,” Spielberg said of Netflix and other streaming services. “The same way that television in the 1950s pulled people away from theatres and everyone stayed at ahome. Hollywood is used to that, but the difference today is that a lot of studios would rather just make a branded tentpole, guaranteed box office hits from their inventory of branded, successful movies than take chances on smaller films. Those smaller films… are now going to Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.”
While that might sound like a criticism of the traditional Hollywood system, though, Spielberg did not take the opportunity to call for greater support of smaller films from studios, instead saying that the small screen poses a “clear and present danger to film-goers”.
His comments arrive as Paramount recently sold the rights to Annihilation in countries outside of the US to Netflix, as the studio was afraid of not making money from its release. In the UK, Netflix has arranged some cinema screenings with the Everyman chain, but has also made the movie accessible to everyone across the country on any device. Without Netflix, the film may not have been seen in the UK for some time.
Spielberg added that he thought “television is greater today than it has ever better in the history of television… TV is really thriving with quality and art”, but that there was a clear line between cinema and TV.
“Fewer and fewer filmmakers are going to struggle to raise money in order to compete at Sundance and get one of the specialty labels release their films theatrically and more of them are going to let the SVOD business finance their work with the promise of a one week theatrical window so they qualify for awards,” he went on to say. “But once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. If it’s a good show it deserves an Emmy, but not an Oscar.”
“I’ll still make The Post for audiences asking them please to go out and see The Post and not make it directly for Netflix,” he concluded.
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