Netflix Responds to Steven Spielberg’s Push to Block Streaming Movies From the Oscars

Streaming service goes to bat for “Roma” — and any future films

spielberg on set
getty images

Netflix is not kowtowing to Steven Spielberg’s push to keep streaming movies out of the Oscars.

“We love cinema,” Netflix began a Sunday night tweet.

It continued:
“Here are some things we also love:
-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,” the Twitter post concluded.

Though it did not mention Spielberg, the tweet was a pretty clear shot at his recent public stance.

On Thursday, IndieWire reported that Spielberg is expected to propose a rule change at next month’s Academy Board of Governors’ meeting that would restrict eligibility for films that do not have a significant theatrical run. He believes the movie theater experience is essential to truly appreciate and reward the art form. And Spielberg also sees anything on Netflix as belonging to the television medium.

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” he told ITV News. “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”

That proposal would impact a film like Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” which premiered at the Venice Film Festival and played at many film festivals, but was released on just over 100 screens for less than a month before hitting Netflix. “Roma” was nominated for 10 Oscars, including Best Picture. It won three, but lost to “Green Book,” a studio film from Universal.

The conversation has ignited a debate over the theatrical versus streaming experience, with at least one Academy member telling TheWrap they would oppose Spielberg’s proposal if it comes forward, and Ava DuVernay, whose documentary “13th” was also a Netflix release and scored an Oscar nomination, saying on Twitter that she would oppose the proposal as well.