Steven Spielberg really and truly wants to ban all future awards-hungry Netflix films from the Oscar party, including Martin Scorsese‘s The Irishman. Unless, that is, Netflix gets serious about extended theatrical bookings.
Spielberg has flat-out said that “films given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week shouldn’t qualify for the Academy Award nomination.” Now, at the annual Academy Board of Governors meeting in April, he intends to propose a rule change that would make Netflix films ineligible for Oscar consideration.
Amblin spokesperson: “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. 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.”
Hollywood Elsewhere agrees with what Spielberg is trying to do here. He’s just trying to implement strict but fair award-season rules, and to guard against future Roma-styled spending blitzkriegs, and at the same time take steps that will protect (in a very precise and limited way) theatrical exhibition during award season.
In other words Hollywood Elsewhere would definitely prefer that Netflix honchos commit to serious 90-day theatrical bookings before going to streaming. I for one genuinely hope they’ll be forced to do this for their award-season contenders. Amazon is loosening its theatrical attitudes and procedures, but Hollywood Elsewhere stands foursquare behind the idea that serious award-season contenders need to be held to three months in theatres before going to streaming. Really.
I’m not talking about garden-variety, day-to-day streaming — that’s obviously the main way that people see movies these days. But award-season contenders should be subjected to different rules.
The Academy governors will listen politely to Spielberg, but let’s get real — the toothpaste is out of the tube and there’s no putting it back in. What are the odds that the Academy is going to exclude The Irishman, a total Netflix package, from Best Picture competition later this year (and into ’20)? Right now I would say they’re not high, but at the same I recognize that Netflix won’t bend its operational strategy unless the Academy totally puts its foot down about award-season theatrical commitments.
I just hope that enough people join Spielberg in insisting on this award-season stipulation.