After Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, distributed and campaigned for by Netflix, won three Oscars, Steven Spielberg is upping his disapproval of Netflix films at the Oscars by addressing it directly with the Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, trade publication Indiewire reported on Friday.
Spielberg has spoken openly about how films debuting on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu should only be considered in the TV movie space at the Emmy Awards, and not in the film categories at the Oscars. “Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. The good show deserves an Emmy, but not an Oscar,” he said last year.
Indiewire wrote that the veteran blockbuster filmmaker, who is a board member of the directing branch of the Academy, will propose rule changes that will prevent Netflix titles from qualifying for Oscar contention. Representatives for Spielberg had no comment when reached by EW on Friday, and spokespeople for the Academy and Netflix did not immediately return EW’s requests for comment. Filmmaker Ava DuVernay — whose Oscar-nominated documentary 13th was distributed through Netflix in 2016 and whose upcoming four-part series on the Central Park Five, When They See Us, will premiere on Netflix on May 31 — responded to the news of Spielberg’s meeting by asking the Academy to include not just the Board of Governors but also “filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently.”
The debate of the disruption that streaming platforms have caused in the traditional film distribution model has been ongoing ever since Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu entered the film space, but it’s particularly resonant in a year where Netflix reportedly spent around $40 to $60 million on a successful Oscar campaign for Roma, which nabbed 10 Oscar nominations and three wins (Netflix purchased the distribution rights to the film after it had been made). Netflix changed its own distribution models to release Roma in limited theatrical runs, but opted for the four-walling model, where it rented out movie theaters and kept the box office revenue.
The Oscars amended its rules in 2017 to prevent multi-part documentary series from qualifying for the Documentary categories, months after ESPN’s five-part O.J.: Made in America won Best Documentary Feature.