Spielberg's Production Company Inks Multi-Film Deal With Netflix, I Guess To Win A Bunch Of Emmys Instead Of Oscars

from the about-face dept

Way back in the ancient history of 2019, famed director Steven Spielberg became something of the front man for the aging Hollywood crowd that sees streaming services as somehow deficient when he announced plans to push the Academy to disallow Oscar nominations for films that appeared first on streaming services, arguing they should instead be considered for Emmys. Spielberg’s plans were for naught, however, as the Academy refused to ban stream-first films from nominations. This led to Spielberg, directly and through mouthpieces, walking back his very clear intentions so as to pretend that he felt differently than was the reality. I’ll stress again that all of this occurred all of two years ago.

Which is part of what makes it strange that Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners, just inked a multi-film deal with Netflix.

In a press release on Netflix’s website, the two companies announced that the partnership will result in “multiple new feature films per year.” As is often the case, today’s press release was accompanied by prewritten statements by various executives involved, including Spielberg himself. The quote attributed to him says:

At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute [Ted Sarandos, Netflix 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. 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, Netflix head of Global Film], and the entire Netflix team.

The obvious immediate question that comes to mind is to wonder aloud just how many Emmys Spielberg thinks he can win under this partnership. Snark aside, it’s worth noting that Amblin doesn’t solely produce films by Spielberg and that the production company has already produced some streaming hits on Netflix, most notably The Trial of the Chicago 7, as noted in the ArsTechnica post.

Still, it’s quite an about face for a world famous director, who, only 2 years ago, was plainly arguing that films that release on streaming services like Netflix are somehow a different animal than those that first enjoy a theatrical release. That whole argument was flawed for multiple reasons, including just how much movie content is now primarily enjoyed via streaming, coupled with the shoddy job theatres have done in actually fulfilling their value-add propositions, otherwise known as the only real reason why the public should want to go to the theatre instead of watching a film at home.

If Spielberg can be dragged into modernity, that’s a good thing. But we shan’t forget his previous statements, if for no other reason than they should probably serve as a warning to any other “get off my lawn” crowd members who want to pretend like culture doesn’t change.

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Companies: amblin, netflix

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Comments on “Spielberg's Production Company Inks Multi-Film Deal With Netflix, I Guess To Win A Bunch Of Emmys Instead Of Oscars”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Meh, while notable there’s nothing really surprising here. Spielberg is many things, among them a movie lover who lives in a place that’s overrun with high quality movie theatres and a great businessman. The former aspect of his personality hates the fact that people were choosing to go the theatre less often, blinded to the fact that most people on the planet don’t have the level of quality choice he has.

The latter aspect of his personality understands that the collapse that was happening anyway has been sped up massively by the pandemic, is going to take years to recover, and likely won’t get back to pre-pandemic levels. Given this, he’s forced to accept that the distribution model of a completed movie is irrelevant to its production value.

It’s great to see him respond to reality and hopefully continue to focus on delivering quality movies no matter how people end up watching them. Now, if only we can get Christopher Nolan to understand that a lot of people don’t have access to IMAX and many people are going to watch his movies on phones, laptops and small TVs with crappy sound whether he likes it or not – so stop screwing around with the audience when he’s reminded of that fact…

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

^^^^^ This ^^^^^^

People with wealth/power are not immune to the all to human belief that everyone else lives like they do.

See also: White folk who like to explain why the Black motorist being beaten by the cop had to be the motorists fault even as the bodycam shows the cop was the aggressor who went way over the line. No one in their circle has ever been beaten by a cop so it doesn’t happen without a good reason.

"the distribution model of a completed movie is irrelevant to its production value"
If only we could get past the Hollywood accounting to see the truth is he makes more for an ass in a theater than the family just streaming it.
something something patent on detecting if there are to many people in the room & stopping the stream until they upgrade to the next level of rental.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What am I missing about the earlier stories? They’re clear that Spielberg views Netflix movies as TV movies, but it looks to have been blown out of proportion by the media, including Techdirt. I don’t see anything indicating he views TV movies or streaming movies as inferior to theatrical ones—just different. As long as there’s an arbitrary division between Oscars and Emmys, the people in charge will have to decide where new technologies belong. A famous director weighed in. So what?

This is a nothing story. We’d be better off talking about the arbitrarily sexist duplication of certain awards. Or, hell, why aren’t TV movies eligible for Oscars? If they’re less good, they won’t stand a chance, and there will be no need to disqualify them.

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nerdrage (profile) says:

the future of streaming/theaters

There’s really no reason why a movie can’t be launched in theaters and on streaming at the same time and still do good box office, it just has to be the right type. Godzilla vs King Kong launched on HBO Max and theaters the same day and did strong box office, even though people were still just getting used to being back in theaters.

That goes to show, if you have a "theatrical movie" – meaning one with eye candy, action, and ideally big recognizable brand names – you can lure folks back into theaters, and they will ignore or not even realize that they could see it for free on streaming. Who’s gonna bother to watch Godzilla fight King Kong on your home theater setup when you could get the full effect on a massive screen with booming sound system.

If Spielberg comes out with a movie like that – and his name alone is the recognizable brand – something big, noisy, overwhelming, fun – then Netflix can do whatever they want with it, and still rake in serious box office. That’s the future of movies: a simultaneous streaming launch that doesn’t hurt box office because it’s so much better in the theater.

However, most movies aren’t like Godzilla vs King Kong so those might as well just go to streaming alone. Spielberg will be making movies like that too. Schindler’s List didn’t require a big screen to appreciate. If Spielberg comes up with another ET or Indiana Jones type franchise, then that’s a theatrical release. That’s what Netflix is hoping for.

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: the future of streaming/theaters

"There’s really no reason why a movie can’t be launched in theaters and on streaming at the same time and still do good box office"

There never has been and artificial windowing like this has been one of the primary drivers to piracy, along with the artificial windowing of releases internationally. Going day and date has been the obvious way forward since physical prints and incompatible home media formats have mostly gone away, we’ve just been waiting for the industry to react to the 21st century with their business models.

"Godzilla vs King Kong launched on HBO Max and theaters the same day and did strong box office"

That a fair early example of reopening, but there’s others. Of the current top 5 US domestic movies, 3 are available at home (Cruella, Raya, GvK). The other two that aren’t (Quiet Place 2, Conjuring 3) are movies that absolutely benefit from theatrical presentation. There’s notable movies elsewhere that are bucking what was thought to be the previous trend – for example, Nomadland spent 4 weeks in the UK top 10 movies recently, despite the fact that it was released on Disney+ there weeks before cinemas reopened. Hardly a special effects blockbuster, but people want to see that cinematography on the big screen.

All these films represent something that we’ve been saying all along – people will go to the cinema if there’s a reason for them to go. You can’t just block off every other legal avenue and expect them to pay through the nose because you think you gave them no choice – there’s always choices. But, make it so that the cinemas are attractive or make movies where they benefit from that setting, and people will go.

As for the type of movies these are – there is literally nothing apart from the industry’s pig headedness and cowering fear that means that a Netflix production can’t also be a theatrical release, whether that’s a more arthouse style movie or one of their "blockbuster" attempts. Spielberg can make what he likes for them, then hopefully his influence will help stop the cinemas trying to block anything with the Netflix name on it because they’re scared.

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