Amblin Partners, the film and television studio led by Steven Spielberg, has produced Oscar-winning films like Green Book and 1917.
Ted Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, said in a statement: “We cannot wait to get to work with the Amblin team and we are honoured and thrilled to be part of this chapter of Steven’s cinematic history.”
“At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the centre of everything we do, and from the minute Ted and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways,” Spielberg said in his statement.
Until 2019, Spielberg was a vocal critic of streaming platforms and said that films releasing on OTT platforms should not qualify for Oscar nominations. “I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications and a couple of theatres for less than a week should qualify for Academy Award nominations,” he had said.
The Oscar-winning filmmaker, while speaking to ITV News in 2018 about his VR film Ready Player One, had said, “It is a challenge to cinema the same way television in 1950s took people away from movie theatres and everybody stayed at home because it was more fun to stay at home and watch,” adding that Hollywood has always been highly “competitive” with television.
“The difference today is, a lot of studios would rather just make branded tent pole, guaranteed box office hits from their inventory of branded, successful movies than take chances on smaller films,” he had said calling the streaming trend a threat to film-goers. “The smaller films that the studios used to make routinely, are now going to platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix”, The Schindler’s List director added.
Spielberg further urged audiences to go to the cinemas instead of opting for Netflix.
Netflix, without naming Spielberg, tweeted its response to the criticism: “We love cinema. Here are some things we also love: Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theatres; Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time; Giving filmmakers more ways to share art. These things are not mutually exclusive.”
The situation intensified after Spielberg, who is on the Academy’s Board of Governers, decided to start a campaign and sought support from other members of the Academy regarding change of rules for digital releases. Netflix should only compete for awards in the Emmy arena, the filmmaker said, after Alfonso Cuaron’s Netflix-backed film Roma won three Oscars in 2019.
Spielberg has not commented on his decision to strike a partnership with Netflix now after previously criticizing the platform.