Steven Spielberg Campaigns Against Netflix’s Oscar® Eligibility

Steven Spielberg Campaigns Against Netflix’s Oscar® Eligibility

By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer

The latest Academy Awards ceremony demonstrated that Netflix aims to rival major Hollywood studios in the awards circuit. Netflix’s drama, ROMA, won three awards out of their 10 nominations. Days following ROMA’S success, Variety reported that Spielberg plans to get more hands-on with Netflix’s eligibility come next year’s Oscars.

Spielberg is a board of governors member of the Academy and “plans to propose a rules change that would bar movies that debut on streaming services or have only a limited exclusive run in theaters from contention for awards.” According to the Variety article, Spielberg will address his concerns during a meeting in April.

The director’s qualm is simple. Spielberg feels that movies distributed via streaming shouldn’t merit the same type of eligibility as those that are released theatrically. While ROMA did release in a small amount of theaters in order to qualify at all for the Oscars, many believe that the exclusive theatrical window should be longer before the streaming service is allowed to release the movies online.

Spielberg is no doubt partial to major motion event pictures, having directed projects like JURASSIC PARK, JAWS, INDIANA JONES and many other recognizable titles earning him three Academy Awards out of 14 total nominations. Spielberg also co-founded the production label DreamWorks in 1994 which has also produced many successful hits at the box office.

Spielberg’s frustrations with the increase of streaming services aren’t new. Last year he said, “I love television. I love the opportunity. Some of the greatest writing being done today is for television, some of the best directing for television, some of the best performances [are] on television today.” He continued saying, “the sound is better in homes more than it ever has been in history, but there’s nothing like going to a big dark theater with people you’ve never met before and having the experience wash over you. That’s something we all truly believe.”

In contrast, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in December 2018, “I love the theatrical experience, and we’re not in conflict with anyone, I think we’re a complement to each other.” He continued, “[ROMA] is awesome on the big screen, but most of the world does not have access to do that. What I want to do is connect people with movies they’re going to love. And they’re going to love ROMA. They’re going to love it on their phone, they’re going to love it on a huge big screen.”

After the Academy Awards, Netflix tweeted a defense, proclaiming that they do in fact love cinema.