Steven Spielberg breathed a sigh of relief when Roma, despite a reported $50 million marketing push on behalf of Netflix, failed to win Best Picture over Green Book, which was produced by the filmmaker’s Amblin Entertainment. Now, as we reported last week, Spielberg is working to save himself future stress by lobbying for new rules that could potentially exclude the streamer from future Oscars consideration.
On Sunday night, Netflix issued its first response to Spielberg, taking to its Twitter account to issue a brief statement. “We love cinema. Here are some things we also love,” it tweeted. “Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters. Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time. Giving filmmakers more ways to share art. These things are not mutually exclusive.”
Netflix’s stance, that it provides greater access for audiences, serves as a direct response to Spielberg, who seems particularly irked by the streamer’s decision to bypass traditional distribution models and only give its films limited runs in theaters. He’s said in the past that streaming content should be eligible for Emmy Awards, not Oscars. He’s expected to propose some rule changes at an April meeting of the Academy Governor’s Board, ones that would presumably force Netflix (and other streamers, one would imagine) to play by the same rules as the big studios.
Echoing comments by Roma’s Alfonso Cuarón, Netflix’s statement also emphasizes how its approach allows filmmakers “more ways to share art.”
“For me the conversation about theatrical is super important,” Cuarón told Variety when asked about Netflix backlash. “I’m a filmmaker. I believe in the theatrical experience. But there has to be diversity. The multiplex theatrical experience is a very gentrified experience. You have one kind of product with few variations. It’s hard to see art-house films. It’s hard to see foreign films. Most theaters play big Hollywood movies.”
Nevertheless, expect some changes following April’s meeting. As one Academy governor recently told Indiewire, “There’s a growing sense that if [Netflix] is going to behave like a studio, there should be some sort of standard. The rules were put into effect when no one could conceive of this present or this future. We need a little clarity.”