Steven Spielberg Denies Rumors of Blocking Netflix from the Oscars

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, says Spielberg is not campaigning against Netflix’s eligibility for Academy Awards.

“I talked to Steven about this yesterday. I asked him very specifically — I don’t have any skin in this game anymore — he said, ‘I absolutely did not say that,’” Katzenberg said at South by Southwest, as reported by THR. “He actually said nothing.”

“What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven. They called a spokesperson to get a comment and honestly, just twisted it around. One, Steven didn’t say that, and two, he is not going to the academy in April with some sort of plan. But he has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing.”

A report from IndieWire was first to allege Spielberg was “now devoted to ensuring that the race never sees another ‘Roma,’” referring to Netflix’s Alfonso Cuarón-directed Best Picture contender that ultimately took home three Oscars, including Best Director.

“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” said an Amblin spokesperson in the IndieWire report. “He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”

The acclaimed filmmaker has voiced calls for streamer movies to have longer theatrical runs when qualifying for Academy Award attention, explaining in February:

“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” Spielberg said in an award acceptance speech THR characterized as “an apparent plea to his peers to resist Netflix's increasing power in Hollywood.”

“I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever,” he said.

Last year, Spielberg told ITV News, “I don’t believe that films that are just given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nominations.”

“Fewer and fewer filmmakers are going to struggle to raise money, or to compete at Sundance and possibly get one of the specialty labels to release their films theatrically,” he explained. “And more of them are going to let the SVOD businesses finance their films, maybe with the promise of a slight, one-week theatrical window to qualify for awards. But, in fact, once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie.”

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