Steven Spielberg says Netflix row is about 'the survival of movie theatres'

Danny Thompson
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 28: Steven Spielberg attends The Women’s Cancer Research Fund’s An Unforgettable Evening Benefit Gala at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on February 28, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg has clarified his position on the continuing Netflix debate, saying he wants the ‘theatrical experience to remain relevant’.

The highly revered director created a stir recently when he proposed an Oscar rule changes to prevent movies primarily made for online streaming from being eligible to win awards, arguing they should instead be included in the Emmy awards, which is for television.

The American Academy dismissed his proposal, ruling that Netflix films will remain eligible for Oscars for the foreseeable future.

Read more: Helen Mirren says ‘f**k Netflix’ at US cinema conference

He has now sent an email to the New York Times, in which he insinuates his issue is with the potential erosion of the movie going theatre experience as we know it. 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 theatres. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”

Read more: Netflix plots to buy Hollywood cinema which boasts the ‘Steven Spielberg Theatre’

Spielberg isn’t the only Hollywood heavyweight to take umbrage with the streaming giants. While promoting her film The Good Liar, earlier this month, Helen Mirren said: “I love Netflix. But f**k Netflix. There is nothing like sitting in the cinema.”

Helen Mirren attending a photocall for ‘Hall of Fame’ during the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival at the BFI Southbank, London. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)

Despite disdain from the old guard, Netflix movies have continued to be successful. At the 2019 Oscars, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, which was distributed by Netflix, won Best Foreign Language Film, with Cuaron taking the Best Director for crown. The movie also won Best Achievement in Cinematography.