Ding Ding Ding Ding, “let the fight begin!”.
As you already know, if you’re a regular reader, I’m a big Netflix fan. I’m a junkie, lover, aficionado, loyalist and most importantly critic!
As much as I love the drug, I remain its biggest critic. I think that is something we should all be ready to do for something we love. It’s not all about the positives and the good side, but I often look forward to mistakes and shortfall from the ‘Big N’, as I love to call it. McDonald’s is the big M, Coca-Cola is the big C and Netflix, the big N. You get the joke. I always want to be the first to criticize an area where the company has gone wrong. It doesn’t happen to often anyway. Big N rarely takes a wrong foot.
At the other end of the ring is Steven Spielberg, which is a name we all know, even if many can’t put a face to it. We all know Spielberg to be the go-to name for excellence in film-making- either as puns by rappers or general discussion in film-making. Spielberg broke out during a time Hollywood was experiencing a bad patch; he was among those who revived the theatre going spirit during the battle against TV, which by the way we never had a clear winner. Both just learned to live together and be mutually beneficial to one another.
Despite how much Netflix has done for Hollywood, talking about inclusion, diversity, quality, accessibility and quantity, there are still a few out there who think Netflix is more of a curse than a blessing. A man who has decided to spearhead this witch-hunt in 2019 is Mr. Steven ‘Game-Mountain’.
We or I personally can list so many positives that Netflix brings to the table, but this set of people believe these positives can all be nullified by one negative opposing point: “Streaming is harming the motion picture theatrical experience”. This one point in their opinion cancels all the beneficial aspect of streaming. Anytime, streaming is mentioned, it is most times a sub for Netflix as the leading company in this field. His witch-hunt is basically to stop streaming services from competing at the Oscars because they make movie for TV format, so he would prefer that they compete only at the Emmys. According to a report by Indiewire, his heartburn is caused by the following:
Netflix spent too much. One Oscar strategist estimated “Roma” at $50 million in Oscar spend, with “Green Book” at $5 million. (The New York Times reported $25 million; Netflix insists awards were folded into their entire marketing budget.)
The massive “Roma” push crushed foreign-language distributors. Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker said he had no financial option but to release Oscar nominees “Never Look Away” and “Capernaum” when theaters opened up after the holidays, which meant fewer Academy voters had a chance to see them.
“Roma” only spent three weeks as a theatrical exclusive.
Netflix doesn’t report box office.
Netflix doesn’t respect the 90-day theatrical window.
Netflix movies are available in 190 countries, 24-7.2019, Anne Thompson: Indiewire, https://www.indiewire.com/2019/02/steven-spielberg-vs-netflix-oscar-academy-wars-1202047846/
His major concern is Netflix not preserving the theatrical experience. What is a Theatrical Experience? Theatrical experience in my opinion, (which might sound biased) should be a personal standard and not a generalised rule of living. People should be allowed to decide how they want to enjoy movies. There shouldn’t be a generalised standard. There could be options and different forms like streaming has provided, but the decision on how it would be enjoyed should be left in the hands of the audience.
Netflix has given so much opportunity to budding and upcoming filmmakers both in Hollywood and all over the world. But, because they don’t release their films theatrically, they shouldn’t be allowed to compete at the academy awards? It all sounds like the grievances of an aging legend who is scared of a new force. Ironically, this has been written in different forms in movies; Legends who stand in the way of necessary changes and they end up getting washed away in the waves of innovation.
Mr. Spielberg is trying to convince the academy members not to allow Netflix to compete in future Oscar awards. If he gets his way, this would change the future of movie-making. Netflix found a way to circumvent the existing rules in the race leading to the last Oscars by releasing ROMA (a 2018 Netflix movie) limitedly in theatres in order to qualify for the Oscars. Netflix has shown they are ready to alter their ‘direct to streaming’ custom in order to fit in Hollywood. So why can’t Hollywood accept this new age of viewing with open hands?
If Mr. Spielberg’s wishes come to pass, there are options opened for Netflix to still compete at the highest level of Hollywood: it would be a form of restructuring.
Restructuring in terms of company organisation. Netflix (or a new name) being a parent company to its Netflix studio and Netflix streaming service. Then Netflix as a studio, can always go ahead to produce movies for theatrical releases, while making it available on their streaming service at some point after the theatrical run. Then they qualify to enter themselves for the Oscar awards. There’d be no ‘Mountain’ holding them back from fulfilling the Hollywood dream. It would be quite similar to Alphabet as the parent company to Google, Android and other Google subsidiaries. It is a win-win for all. Better still, streaming services could form their own association and introduce their form of awards ceremony while inviting Steven Spielberg as an honorary judge/jury. *pen drops*
As we all know Netflix, they would never let an opportunity for top notch promotion fly by. Although, they have received support from a number of faces in Hollywood, they also released two indirect responses (informally known as Sub) to this witch-hunt by highlighting the diversity and accessibility they offer.
At the end of the day, filmmakers often say they do not make movies for awards sake. Yet, the politics involved never cease to amaze me (story for another blog post). How this chapter ends is one I am looking forward to like the finale of a TV series.
Ding Ding Ding Ding, “Round over!”
What are you views on the theatrical experience? What was your first theatrical experience? Mine was After Earth back in 2013.
RIP to Riverdale star, Luke Perry. He was one of the good ones.