Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin, and Netflix have forged a partnership, one that will see Amblin produce multiple new feature films for the streaming service every year. The contract gives Netflix access to one of the most praised directors in the movie business at a time when competition in the streaming game is growing fiercer with the launch of Disney Plus, HBO Max, and other notable adversaries.
The pact itself is surprising and a sign of the major changes taking place in Hollywood, in part because Spielberg has previously been seen as something of a Netflix skeptic. In 2019, the director reportedly urged the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bar streaming releases from Oscar eligibility. Sources close to the director dispute Spielberg’s distaste for streaming service productions.
Spielberg shared some excitement for the partnership in a statement saying, “This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted Sarandos, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott Stuber, and the entire Netflix team.” Obviously, his excitement is a palpable demonstration of his recent change of heart.
With this being said, Amblin will continue to maintain offices in the Universal Lot due to their production pact. Additionally, Amblin is expected to produce at least two films a year for Netflix for an undetermined amount of years. It is quite possible that Spielberg may even direct some of the projects. Netflix is expected to provide some financing for these productions which won’t include Spielberg’s next movie, an untitled, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story starring Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams.
What’s most intriguing about this partnership is that Netflix movies do not have any budgetary or genre requirements attached to them. They may also receive some type of theatrical release as have other Netflix pictures such as “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” but that will most likely be a case-by-case situation.
While this news is a bit of a surprise, Netflix’s relationship with Amblin is actually well established. Amblin and Netflix even worked together in the past, producing “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which was supposedly set up at Paramount before being sold to Netflix during the pandemic. The film received six nominations at the Academy Awards including one for best picture. Not to mention, Amblin and Netflix are currently collaborating on Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein film, “Maestro,” which is in the pre-production phase.
Netflix made a point of working with major amuteur filmmakers, many of whom made their mark creating movies for theatrical releases. Directors like Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese have set up shop at the streaming service after studios balked at their movies’ budgets, while David Fincher recently signed a multi-year deal with the company. However, with the added addition of Spielberg to this mix, the director’s prestige towers over the other ones. Having Spielberg under the Netflix tent puts one of Hollywood’s last few titan directors in the digital streaming world despite his fight for the importance of the theatrical experience. Amblin, having produced films like “Green Book” and “1917,” makes the streaming subscribers wonder what is in store in the near future.
By Jimmy Meyer