It has been known for a while that Speilberg does not like Netflix. He is of the old guard that thinks movies belong solely in the theater. So it was to no one’s surprise when the old grouch said he will try to change the rules so that Netflix movies do not qualify for Oscars since he thinks they are TV movies and should be at the Emmy’s. He claims to be worried Netflix will kill the theater experience, that it is sapping viewers, and threatening the industry.
It isn’t a surprise that Streaming is such a fear for Hollywood because they have done this before. First, it was TV, that TV was going to kill Hollywood. Didnt happen. Then VHS would be the end of the theater experience, didnt happen. Oh no, DVD, this will definitely threaten Hollywood, nope. Now they are on to streaming. Despite ticket sales being up 14% last year, Netflix and other streaming services are apparently ruining the theater experience. Hollywood is the little boy who cried wolf. Constantly crying about some new innovation being a threat to them, and hilariously trying to play the victim despite being a massive industry. And because a new industry, Streaming, is approaching their territory, they want to do the petty thing and exclude them from the Oscars
There are already rules in place to determine what is and is not eligible for the Oscars. Netflix plays by those rules, and in fact, often exceeds them, leaving Roma in theaters longer than it had to, and putting it in theaters outside LA and NY. So now they want to expand the rules in an attempt to exclude streaming movies from the Oscars. Speilberg would apparently like for the Oscars to expand the required theater runtime to qualify for an award to 4 weeks. And herein lies the problem. This solution proves his hypocrisy. This would disqualify many smaller films that often can not afford a long stay in theaters. Roma, a Netflix movie, had a longer stay in theaters than any of the other foreign films. So if Speilberg has his way, a film like Shoplifters, a Japanese movie, would have also not qualified for the Oscars. So much for Speilberg having the best interest of the industry in mind. I am sure this has nothing to do with some personal vendetta he has against Streaming.
In fact, streaming services like Netflix have done more than anyone to help prop up smaller movies. They not only give filmmakers who have had a hard time selling their film a chance to make their film but give people who do not have access to arthouse theaters to see these films. Roma would have never gotten this much attention in a pre-streaming world. But because of streaming, this beautiful film can be seen by anyone with a Netflix subscription, whereas before you would have needed to live in LA or NY. They fund the projects of people who usually have a hard time getting funding.
Ava is just one of many directors who is praising Netflix for disturbing the work of non-white filmmakers. It is no great secret that non-white and female filmmakers have a harder time getting their projects made. It is an unfortunate reality. But now with Netflix, there are less roadblocks. Netflix makes film making more accessible to everyone as it creates another huge distribution platform. Lovers of film should be celebrating this.
It also makes film viewing more accessible. No longer is the arthouse community limited to big cities with fancy theaters. I can turn my PlayStation on, sign into Netflix, and watch many movies that were never in a theater near me. The theater experience is one that is fairly exclusive. The cost of taking a family to a theater is prohibitive, and many theaters just do not offer a great experience anymore. Poor sound, poor video quality, and lack of security to enforce rules leading toa disruptive crowd that mars the experience. If you find a good theater it truly is the best way to watch most films, but many do not have that option. This concept that theaters are the only way to watch these movies is elitist at best. Only the extremely privileged like Speilberg and Christopher Nolan can say it with a straight face.
A worst, it is an intentional way to keep the cinema experience exclusive. Now I will not accuse Speilberg specifically of this, but I do think it is the mindset of some. Hollywood is an exclusive club, and many want it to stay that way. Netflix does not threaten theaters or the profitability of the industry, but it does threaten the exclusivity. As said, it makes film way more accessible, taking away the power places like NY and LA have over the industry. This garbage many are throwing out about the sanctity of film is so transparent and disgusting.
If they truly cared, they would realize the solution to protecting the theatrical experience is not to try and push out Netflix from the Oscars, but to in turn, make theaters more accessible. I think theaters adopting a subscription service would be one way to do that. It is no c0oincidence theater profits went up while Movie PAss was at its peak. Now Movie Pass could not keep its own profits up because it was a 3rd party, but theaters themselves could make it work. Theaters would take a loss in covering the cost of tickets but would make it back and then some in concessions. There is a demand for this type of program, and they should take advantage. I know I saw films I would never pay for out of pocket because of Movie Pass.
In my opinion, Speilberg is a relic of an industry afraid to move ahead. Streaming is a part of the industry now, and that is a good thing. They are not going to be able to fight that, and to try would be foolish. History does not favor those who challenge innovation. The directors embracing the new platforms are seeing the benefits. Speilberg needs to drop his petty war with streaming. Trying to classify these films as “TV movies” is so pathetic and transparent that he should be embarrassed. The arrogance and snobbiness of that statement is remarkable. They are films, just as important as the ones he makes. I do not want to hear the director of Ready Player One try to put down other movies because they do not fit his narrow-minded view of what cinema is.
So stop trying to change the rules of the Oscars to exclude Streamed Movies. Netflix films are just as much real movies as anything else.