Despite what some interpreted as being critical of the streamer in the past, Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Partners company have signed a partnership deal with Netflix. The pair announced the deal earlier today revealing that it will "cover multiple new feature films per year." This new deal however does not mean that Spielberg has ended his decades-long partnership with Universal Pictures however as Variety reports that Amblin will remain with the studio while also producing films for Netflix. They note that the studio "is expected to produce at least two films a year" for Netflix with the possibility that Spielberg may even direct some of them.
In a statement, Spielberg said: “At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways. This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott, and the entire Netflix team."
Spielberg's Amblin Partners haven't been exclusive to Universal for many years, despite the public ties that goes back many years, even releasing their film The Trial of the Chicago 7 through Netflix last year. That release may have been what got the ball rolling on Spielberg and the streamer officially partnering up for new original features.
"Steven is a creative visionary and leader and, like so many others around the world," Ted Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer added. "My growing up was shaped by his memorable characters and stories that have been enduring, inspiring and awakening. We cannot wait to get to work with the Amblin team and we are honored and thrilled to be part of this chapter of Steven’s cinematic history.”
As readers may recall, Spielberg's criticism of Netflix came during the 2019 Oscar season when the director was reportedly eager for a rule change to The Academy that would prohibit day-and-date streaming/theatrical exhibition premieres from being considered for awards like Best Picture. Traditionally in the past a one-week theatrical engagement in select theaters has been mandatory for films to be considered.
In truth, Spielberg's qualms were not with Netflix but rather theatrical exhibitors that weren't willing to play the movies that were already streaming online. In a statement to The New York Times at the time he said:
“I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them. Big screen, small screen — what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories...However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience — cry together, laugh together, be afraid together — so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”
That in mind, perhaps we can expect these Spielberg-produced Netflix movies to have theatrical play before they go to streaming. As we saw with the success of Army of the Dead, it's something that's proven popular with filmgoers.
(Cover photo by CRAIG SJODIN via Getty Images)