Directors Guild continues the war on Netflix – but, for now, big awards shows don’t follow suit
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Directors Guild continues the war on Netflix – but, for now, big awards shows don’t follow suit

Cinematic superstar Steven Spielberg has what some might call a chip on his shoulder when it comes to streaming video on demand (SVOD) market leader Netflix. The iconic director, famous for movies like E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and the Indiana Jones series, has been lobbying the powers that be in his industry to exclude Netflix and similar services from major awards, like the Oscars. For Spielberg, and some other established names, movies belong in cinemas first – but not everyone agrees.

Netflix’s share price has appreciated by 44% year to date

Netflix June 28

Source: Yahoo Finance

The Directors Guild of America, an industry body that counts Spielberg, as well as many other famous directors, in its membership, has changed its rules to favour films that get a full theatre release. The Directors Guild’s top award is not, in and of itself, hugely prestigious in the wider cinematic world… but it is often an influential harbinger in the contest to win Best Picture at the Oscars. As of now, movies that open simultaneously in theatres and online can no longer vie for the Guild’s Outstanding Directorial Achievement award.

Now, Netflix does, very occasionally, commit to theatre releases for its outstanding titles very slightly before putting them on its streaming platform. But that’s not – and probably never will be – the standard mode for the SVOD kingpin. There’s a simple reason for that: subscribers pay for originals and exclusives – open Netflix’s bespoke content out to all and sundry for the price of a film ticket, and its existing user base might (quite rightly) feel a bit stiffed.

News of the Guild’s policy change comes at a turbulent time for the US film industry. Many “traditional” directors are keen to preserve what they see as an artistic necessity for prestigious filmmaking – people like Christopher Nolan would prefer their movies to be seen on the big screen. On the other side of the divide is a host of modernists, some of whom are established directors in their own right, and many of whom represent a diversity of backgrounds that have sometimes struggled to get a fair go in Hollywood.

So far, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which is responsible for the Oscars, has failed to cave to pressure. But there’s no doubt that there’s a war underway in Hollywood.


Dominion holds Netflix in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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