Steven Spielberg doesn’t hate Netflix, says Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg has been a leading figure in Hollywood for decades, producing such animated mega-hits as Chicken Run and the Shrek series. More recently, he’s been involved with the animated DreamWorks TV comedy Neighbors From Hell.
Due to his close friendship and working relationship with Steven Spielberg over the years, Katzenberg has drawn attention from reporters eager to get another perspective on Spielberg’s controversial beef with Netflix. With Blumhouse Productions head Jason Blum having been the most recent Hollywood player to (more or less) side with Netflix, it seems that Spielberg’s position - that films released on streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu should not be eligible for Academy Award recognition - isn’t gaining a lot of momentum with other bigger Hollywood names.
That being said, THR has reported that while speaking at this year’s SXSW festival, Katzenberg was asked to comment on Spielberg’s stance, only to defend the famed Indiana Jones director. Katzenberg insisted that Spielberg has never said anything about the need to stop streaming platforms like Netflix. Attributing the entire issue thus far to something that an overzealous journalist “twisted around,” Katzenberg had this to say on the issue:
"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.’ He actually said nothing. What happened is a journalist was onto a story about this and had heard a rumor about Steven. 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."
The statement on Spielberg’s opinion is an interesting one, given that, to date, there have been numerous instances wherein Spielberg has made his opinions known on theatrical runs and their importance to awards consideration, as well as to the medium of cinema. Spielberg has also been recently quoted speaking about films that are released through streaming services, which he defines as TV movies. What’s more, it has been alleged that the 72-year-old director helped influence the Academy’s decision to award Green Book the Best Picture Oscar over Roma. It was, after all, Alfonso Cuarón’s triple Oscar-winning run with Roma that caused the initial debate, with an Amblin Entertainment spokesperson having said that Spielberg was looking for supporters of his stance at the next Academy Board of Governors meeting, of which Spielberg is a member.
There’s little doubt that Spielberg is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time and that he has blessed cinema with an extensive list of essential films over the years. However, the fact of the matter is that throughout the past few months, his words have lead many to believe that he sees a prominent distinction between films released cinematically and those released on streaming services. This sort of viewpoint is increasingly becoming an outdated one, and Katzenberg’s recent statement on Spielberg’s stance could be seen by many as an attempt at backtracking on an opinion that is not finding sufficient traction among today’s filmmakers.