Big news for the future of cinema broke on Monday, when Netflix announced they had forged an official partnership with director Steven Spielberg and his production company Amblin Entertainment that "will cover multiple new feature films per year."
"At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted [Sarandos] 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," Spielberg said in a statement. "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."
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In some ways, it's not surprising to see a big-name American director make a deal with streaming services. For all his complaints about the modern state of Hollywood, Martin Scorsese worked with Netflix for The Irishman. But a Spielberg-Netflix partnership is particularly interesting considering how contentious their relationship has been in the past.
Back in March 2018, Spielberg said that streaming services posed "a clear and present danger" to cinema by drawing viewers away from movie theaters, and added that movies released on Netflix or Amazon Prime were TV movies that deserved to be considered for Emmys, not Oscars. A year later, after Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (a Netflix release) won Best Director and two other Oscars, Spielberg took his disapproval straight to the Board of Governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He seems to have lost that argument, considering how many streaming movies earned Oscar nominations this year.
On the other side of the coin, one of Netflix's biggest and earliest live-action hits was Stranger Things, which was pretty clearly inspired by Spielberg's classic '80s movies. Now they have the man himself to work with.
"Steven is a creative visionary and leader and, like so many others around the world, my growing up was shaped by his memorable characters and stories that have been enduring, inspiring and awakening," Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said in a statement. "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."