Why Does Spielberg Diminish the Value of Netflix Movies?
Speaking to ITV News the acclaimed director Steven Spielberg voiced his opinion on why he believes movies created for streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime, shouldn’t be eligible for Oscars when they nearly manage to check-box all the rules to get considered. Here is his full quote:
“I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nominations.”
“Fewer and fewer filmmakers are going to struggle to raise money or to compete at Sundance and possibly get one of the specialty labels to release their films theatrically and more of them are going to let the SVOD [Streaming Video On-Demand] businesses finance their films, maybe with the promise of a slight, one-week theatrical window to qualify for awards But, in fact, once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie.”
You clearly don’t need me to tell you why this is the “wrong” opinion to have even though it’s not. It’s his opinion he’s allowed to have, but it is very flawed not just because I disagree with it, he does. What? Well, sit in a comfortable seat as you await the ride I am about to take you on.
The Academy Awards is about celebrating the best movies of the year. It doesn’t matter if it originated from an SVOD platform or a video. A masterpiece is a masterpiece. If anything, the Academy should change their rules to adapt to the modern world, not the other way around. What about music, though? Why is that an award like “Best Original Song” can exist even though it’s one of the categories which ties itself more to the music industry than the film one? Don’t get me wrong, songs are integral pieces in films, I am for celebrating it at the Awards, but then why do we have anything against something which ties itself more to the movie division than the TV show one? To his defense, maybe that is also his view on Original Songs, it’s just weird how he highlights SVOD and not songs.
Now let’s look at my main point. Spielberg as a person should be against the things he’s saying. It doesn’t take anyone to browse through a 15-ton book pile to know his words are contradictory. All it takes is a couple minute reversal of the aforesaid video. That’s right, he disagreed with himself in the exact same interview. The earlier quote I am referring to is,
“The difference today is a lot of studios would rather just make a branded, tentpole, you know, guaranteed box office hits from their inventory of […] successful movies than take chances on smaller films. And those smaller films the studios used to make routinely are now going to Amazon, Hulu or Netflix.”
Steven realizes blockbuster movies are taking over the scene at the cinemas. He knows the more Oscar-worthy films will soon start to come from the Streaming Services meanwhile the more lucid ones will be a majority in the auditoriums. One minute he’s praising films intended for the SVOD platforms, the next he’s saying they shouldn’t be considered for the Award season. In layman’s terms, “Don’t award the films that deserve the award. Let’s not give exposure to the new creators who wanna get their name out there”. Maybe it’s not what Spielberg believes, but if you consider all the factors, if we were to live in a world where we came through with his views, it’s what it would essentially come down to. In fact, a lot of creators are moving to the ‘TV format” because it’s easier to experiment more with complex topics and, like mentioned earlier, get themselves seen or noticed by studios.
Spielberg later says he tries to help the state of cinema by creating smaller movies like The Post, but with an acclaimed name like that it’s easier said for you than done for someone starting out. As a creator, he of all people should understand.
By the end of the day, Mister S. Spielberg is worried for the state of cinema. Like him, I believe movies are meant to be experienced in a movie theatre, a place with a big screen, brisk sound. However, we cannot exclude others because then more people will see this as an attack. If we’re to learn anything from history, it’s that every time someone tries to shut down an individual from gaining a platform to speak or getting recognized, it only gets bigger and backfires at the aggressor. What about cinema? We’ll have to figure out a way to keep it alive without trying to diminish another’s value. So Academy? Change your requirements before another little embarrassing hashtag will force you to.