Steven Spielberg, Netflix, and The Academy

Steven Spielberg directing Lincoln. Courtesy of Walt Disney/20th Century Fox

Legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg is taking his battle against Netflix all the way to The Academy when the next board meeting takes place in April.

Without Steven Spielberg, I would never have developed an interest in film.  I’ve already written about this in an article on Jurassic Park in 2017.  It still kills me that I was’t able to be in the same theater as him during SXSW last year because of certain reasons.  I say what I feel the need to say with nothing but the greatest respect for one of my all-time favorite filmmakers.  To put things in simple terms, Steven Spielberg is wrong on the matter.  He is as wrong as can be.

The Oscar rules even state that a film must play for seven days in Los Angeles.  Should there be changes to this rule?  There are zero written requirements for a 90-day release.  It’s an unwritten rule, more or less.  If they want to make changes, it starts right here.

For what it’s worth, I do not think the issue is with Best Picture.  No, my attention turns to the Best Documentary category.  Films in this category are getting both Oscar and Emmy nominations.  Most recently, Icarus would win the Oscar before receiving 3 Emmy nominations.  Before this, 13th would get an Oscar nomination while winning the Emmy.  Is this right at all?

I do find it funny that Spielberg is taking a stand against Netflix.  After all, he was one of the executive producers for Five Came Back.  Yes, this is a documentary miniseries but Netflix released it.

If Spielberg wants to make any arguments, let it be documentaries.  Again, these films are the ones picking up double-nominations.  I highly doubt that Roma will pick up any Emmy nominations.  But I’m willing to turn the argument around.  If Spielberg is so deadset on movies being shown in theaters, how does he feel about film press being forced to watch these films through screener links.  In a perfect world, the screening rooms should be booked for press.  The reality is that this is not possible from a financial perspective.  Indie films have a small budget so press don’t always have theatrical viewing as an option for review.  If anything, this is something that needs to change.  It probably won’t but a girl can dream.

What about the year-end awards screeners?  Should we have to venture to the theaters instead rather than watch them at home?  Honestly, so many people opt to watch at home rather than deal with traffic.  I do think it comes down to which films require the theatrical experience.

The big test is going to come this year when Netflix releases The Irishmen.  Spielberg is in the same group of filmmakers as Martin Scorsese.  This film is certainly bound to get nominations given the pedigree.  It’s going to become a major question for Netflix.  Do they give the film a 90-day theatrical release.  Will they actually report box office now that they are in the MPAA?  I think that they need to be able to answer these questions.  But as we go forward, we need to realize that the motion picture industry is evolving.

The reality is that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have changed the game.  Movie tickets are becoming more expensive.  It’s not right that a family of four is spending $50 on a trip to the movies.  This is absolutely absurd and it’s another thing that needs to change.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.