Steven Spielberg: The Greatest Contribution a Director Can Make Is the Theatrical Experience

Spielberg continues to be critical of the cinematic streaming era led by Netflix.
Steven Spielberg55th Annual CAS Awards, Inside, InterContinental Downtown, Los Angeles, USA - 16 Feb 2019
Steven Spielberg
Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Steven Spielberg is remaining a staunch advocate for the theatrical experience over streaming. While accepting the Filmmaker Award at the Cinema Audio Society’s CAS Awards over the weekend (via Variety), the “Ready Player One” director took a thinly veiled shot at streaming platforms like Netflix.

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

“I love television,” the director continued. “I love the opportunity. Some of the greatest writing being done today is for television, some of the best directing for television, some of the best performances [are] on television today. The sound is better in homes more than it ever has been in history but there’s nothing like going to a big dark theatre with people you’ve never met before and having the experience wash over you. That’s something we all truly believe in.”

Spielberg’s subtle dig at streaming arrived just ahead of the Oscars, where Netflix’s “Roma” is nominated for 10 prizes, including Best Picture and Best Director. Joel and Ethan Coen’s Netflix-backed “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is nominated for three Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay. Last March ahead of the release of “Ready Player One,” Spielberg went viral for saying films that debut online should not vie for Oscars.

“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,” Spielberg said at the time. “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. And more of them are going to let the SVOD [Streaming Video On-Demand] 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.”

Spielberg’s “Ready Player One” is Oscar-nominated for Best Visual Effects. The director’s next project will be an adaptation of “West Side Story” starring Ansel Elgort.

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