Steven Spielberg's Amblin Signs Deal With Netflix; Will Still Release Films Theatrically Through Universal

Steven Spielberg has taken another step into the world of streaming.

The acclaimed filmmaker, who once seemed publicly averse to the idea of streaming, has just signed a deal for his Amblin Partners production company to produce multiple movies for Netflix per year. But this doesn't mean all of Spielberg's new films are going straight to the streamer. Amblin Partners also has an ongoing deal with Universal for theatrical releases, so this deal appears to be more about Spielberg recognizing that the entertainment landscape is shifting and adapting to that reality.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amblin Partners has just struck a deal with Netflix to produce multiple movies a year for the streaming service, and there are no restrictions in place surrounding budget or genre for the new projects. This is in addition to "the long-standing output pact the company has with Universal, which is theatrical in nature and was renewed in December 2020."

A point of clarification: this Amblin Netflix deal is specifically for Amblin Partners, a production company that is a distinct entity from Amblin Entertainment. According to their official website: "Amblin Partners is a film and television production company, led by Steven Spielberg, that develops and produces film using the Amblin Entertainment and DreamWorks Pictures banners and includes Amblin Television, a longtime leader in quality programming."

It's unclear which projects will become Netflix properties, but it's important to remember that Spielberg himself is still essentially a free agent in Hollywood when it comes to theatrical projects. In the past few years, he has made movies for Warner Bros., 20th Century Studios, and Disney, so he is not locked in to one specific place.

Spielberg and Streaming

As the streaming wars heated up and Steven Spielberg began to see the writing on the wall, he lashed out at streaming content, saying that movies made for Netflix deserve Emmys instead of Oscars, and repeatedly stressing the importance of the theatrical experience. But Spielberg is no dummy, so he agreed to produce content for AppleTV+ – and don't forget that he was even among the names associated with Quibi for a while, before that service bit the dust. (Spielberg planned to make a Quibi show that could literally only be watched at certain times of night.) Now he's working with Netflix and expanding his storytelling avenues even further (although it's unclear if he'll actually be directing anything under this new deal, or if he'll simply be producing content for Netflix).

"At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted (Sarandos, Netflix's co-CEO and chief content officer) 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 a statement. "This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted, and I can't wait to get started with him, Scott [Stuber], and the entire Netflix team."