Netflix responds to Steven Spielberg criticism – and so do some other Hollywood voices
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Netflix responds to Steven Spielberg criticism – and so do some other Hollywood voices

This week, streaming video on demand (svod) market leader Netflix has been the focus of heated Hollywood debate online. That debate was kicked off by its recent performance at the Oscars, and the reaction of legendary film maker Steven Spielberg. While Netflix didn’t quite manage to win best picture for its Spanish language family drama Roma it had its best year by far. And, if Hollywood voices are to be believed, that big win is coming at some point (maybe this year, with Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman). And Steven Spielberg is having none of it.

Netflix’s share price is already up by 37% year to date!

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Spielberg will speak to the board of governors of the film academy (the body responsible for the Oscars – or Academy Awards, as they are more properly known) and suggest that streaming movies are disallowed from future competitions. A spokesperson for his company, Amblin Entertainment, explained his views succinctly to the media: “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He'll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up. He will see what happens.” Asked for further comment on Sunday, the person said there was “nothing to add”.

However, Spielberg’s “campaign” to oust streaming movies from the Oscars may prove more difficult than the veteran director imagined. A number of industry voices have spoken up in Netflix’s favour, noting that the company is doing great things for filmmakers of colour. Ava DuVernay, the black director behind upcoming film When They See Us, noted that the board of governors were a gathering of just 54 people from the Academy’s overall membership of more-than 8,000. She tweeted, in response to the news that Spielberg would be raising anti-Netflix concerns: “I hope if this is true, that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently.”

Franklin Leonard, founder of The BlackList, was more direct. He wrote: “It's possible that Steven Spielberg doesn't know how difficult it is to get movies made in the legacy system as a woman or a person of colour. In his extraordinary career, he hasn't exactly produced or executive produced many films directed by them.” He went on to note that Netflix’s “first four forays into aggressive Oscar campaigns” which have all been made in the last few years, were all directed by people of colour. Meanwhile, he said: “Spielberg does one roughly every two decades.”

No doubt the debate will continue to rage over the coming week, but one thing is sure: Netflix is not going down without a fight. Without mentioning Spielberg by name, the company tweeted the following in response to the news: “We love cinema. Here are some things we also love: access for people who can’t always afford, or live towns without, theatres. Letting everyone, everywhere, enjoy releases at the same time. Giving filmmakers more ways to share art. These things are not mutually exclusive.”


Dominion holds Netflix in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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