Steven Spielberg Doesn't Want to Ban Netflix Films From the Oscars

Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg, claims Spielberg never said he wanted to ban streaming-only films from Oscars.

Steven Spielberg attends The Women's Cancer Research Fund

Image via Getty/Frazer Harrison

Steven Spielberg attends The Women's Cancer Research Fund

Jeffrey Katzenberg, who co-founded DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg, revealed at SXSW Friday that his longtime friend doesn't plan to propose having Netflix movies banned from the Academy Awards during the annual Post-Oscars meeting. "I talked to Steven about this yesterday. I asked him very specifically — I don’t have any skin in this game anymore — he said, 'I absolutely did not say that,'" Katzenberg said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "He actually said nothing." 

"What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven," Katzenberg added. "They called a spokesperson to get a comment and honestly, just twisted it around. One, Steven didn't say that, and two, he is not going to the academy in April with some sort of plan. But he has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing." 

Indiewire reported in late February that Spielberg believed streaming-only movies do not "play by the same rules" as their traditional studio competitors, and therefore do not belong in the Academy Awards conversation. The Jurassic Park director was reportedly upset over how this year's 10-time Oscar nominee Roma failed to respect the 90-day theatrical window, instead opting for a three-week exclusivity release prior to its Netflix debut.

A spokesperson for Amblin Entertainment, the film and television production company co-founded by Spielberg, further pushed this narrative that the director was seriously entertaining his rumored campaign in their own statement. "Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation," the spokesperson said. "He'll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens." 

Even though Katzenberg claims Spielberg "has not opined at all, nor has he aligned with some specific thing" when it comes to Netflix's participation at the Oscars, a 2018 ITV News interview shows Steven explaining why he thought the streaming service's films were better suited for the Emmys. "Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar," he said. "I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination." 

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