Steven Spielberg says Netflix movies aren’t Oscar worthy
Steven Spielberg might like watching TV on his iPad, but when it comes to Netflix movies and the Academy Awards he’s of one mind: they shouldn’t be eligible for awards.
The Oscar-winning director was speaking to ITV as part of the promo train for this week’s Ready Player One release, and he didn’t mince words when asked about the differences between theatrical releases and films only available on Netflix and other streaming platforms.
“It is a challenge to cinema,” Spielberg says, acknowledging the threat posed by Netflix, which notched Oscar nods for Mudbound at this year’s ceremony after a limited theatrical release.
“Television is greater today than it’s ever been in the history of television,” Spielberg says. “There’s better writing, better directing, better performances, better stories are being told. Television is thriving in terms of quality and art, but it poses a clear and present danger to filmgoers.”
But he staunchly believes films launched on streaming platforms should not be given Oscar consideration.
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s good, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe that films that are given a token release in a couple of theatres should qualify for an Academy Award nomination.”
Spielberg lays studios are partially to blame for smaller films landing distribution deals with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu (they’d rather make big, tentpole action movies), but reflected on his own experience last year making a film with neither superheroes or special effects.
“I’ll still make The Post and ask an audience to please go out to theatres and see The Post and not make it for Netflix,” he says.
Last fall, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said Netflix is planning to release 80 original films in 2018.
According to Variety, the streaming service ended 2017 with 117.6 million streaming members worldwide.
Spielberg’s comments echo a recent move made by the Cannes Film Festival. Starting this year, Netflix films will not be eligible to compete for the prestigious Palme d’Or prize.
In 2017, two Netflix films – Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories – were allowed to compete, a decision that festival director Thierry Fremaux said “created an enormous controversy that has echoed around the globe.”
“Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in theaters,” Fremaux told Le Film Francais magazine. “I was presumptuous: they refused.”