Spielberg’s Amblin signs multi-year feature film contract with Netflix
In a sort of about-face, Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg’s longtime film production company, will produce several films per year for Netflix. The deal reflects the rising star of Netflix and arguably the legendary director’s acceptance of a new order in the cinematic world where home viewing is a first-class citizen.
The deal was announced in a press release with few details other than commendations from Amblin and Netflix executives. What is certain is that Amblin will produce “several new feature films per year” for Netflix.
“From the minute Ted [Sarandos, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer] and I started discussing a partnership, it was very clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways, ”Spielberg said in the release.
These new ways didn’t seem so surprising to Spielberg a few years ago, when he allegedly pushed to exclude Netflix movies from the Oscars.
“Once you commit to a TV format, you’re a TV movie,” Spielberg told ITV in March 2019. “I don’t think films that only get token qualifiers in a few theaters for less than one weeks should qualify. for the Oscar nomination. “
Ultimately, no real push was made, however. Whether Spielberg was twisted, changed his mind, or simply read the play, he has since tempered his position. Rather, he said he just wanted to cherish and protect the “theatrical experience” – understandable by one of the modern blockbuster pioneers.
Understandably, that’s a huge payoff for Netflix, which will get a constant stream of features from Amblin, though there’s no guarantee of a Spielberg image. Meanwhile, Amblin will continue its long-standing partnership with Universal, which fulfills the more traditional side of filmmaking and distribution. The company has broken bread with streaming companies before, with shows and movies made and distributed by Netflix and others, but it’s the most significant partnership yet.
Perhaps it was COVID that suggested to Spielberg and Amblin that streaming platforms are, far from disappearing, simply the future of the industry in many ways. In a world where the “theatrical experience” is a potential super-broadcast event and where people are perfectly happy to watch (and pay for) a “premiere” at home, it may be better to roll with the hits. and hope things bounce back.