Spielberg and Netflix

After several bloody days of the Steven Spielberg vs. Netflix war, we may have finally arrived at a ceasefire. Despite reports to the contrary, Spielberg friend and colleague Jeffrey Katzenberg says that the filmmaker has no desire to change Academy rules to hinder Netflix. Apparently, this entire thing was a huge misunderstanding, with someone misquoting something someone else – not Spielberg – said. Is that it then? Can we all finally move on from this?

A story broke recently claiming that Steven Spielberg was so annoyed with Netflix and their lack of respect for the theatrical experience that he planned to address the Academy Board of Governors next month and petition them to change certain rules. Rules that Netflix would either start abiding by, or risk being disqualified. This kicked off a firestorm in the film community, with many thinking Spielberg was out of touch and acting foolish. Netflix even issued their own response, defending their release model.

But according to a close friend and colleague of Spielberg, the rumors of Spielberg’s disdain for Netflix have been greatly exaggerated. Speaking at South by Southwest (via THR), Jeffrey Katzenberg said that Spielberg personally told him there’s no truth to this story. “I talked to Steven about this yesterday. I asked him very specifically — I don’t have any skin in this game anymore — he said, ‘I absolutely did not say that,'” said Katzenbeg. “He actually said nothing.”

So what the heck happened? According to Katzenberg, this is all a mix-up:

“What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven. They called a spokesperson to get a comment and honestly, just twisted it around. One, Steven didn’t say that, and two, he is not going to the Academy in April with some sort of plan. But he has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing.”

Oh. Well then…I guess that’s the end of that? Yet it can’t be denied that Spielberg isn’t a fan of streaming. He’s voiced his displeasure several times in the past. In 2018, the acclaimed filmmaker said that he felt Netflix movies weren’t real movies at all – they were TV movies, because they were debuted in a TV format. As a result of this, Spielberg added that he felt Netflix movies should be nominated for Emmy awards, not Oscars.

Earlier this year, Spielberg gave a speech in which he stated:

“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. 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.”

While he never mentioned Netflix in that speech, the implication was clear – movies matter more when shown in theaters. But despite his disapproval of streaming, it looks like Spielberg won’t be launching a diabolical campaign against Netflix after all. Take a deep breath, everyone. The war is over.

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