It's no secret: Steven Spielberg hates that the streaming revolution is threatening to upend Hollywood. 

As Variety recently reported, the accomplished director, who is one of the members of the board of governors at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "plans to propose a rules change that would bar films that debut on streaming services or have only a limited exclusive run in theaters from contention for awards."

"Once you commit to a television format, you're a TV movie," Spielberg said in an interview last year. "You certainly, if it's a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. 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."

On Sunday, Netflix tweeted a brilliant reply to Spielberg's recent campaign:


We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:

-Access for people who can't always afford, or live in towns without, theaters 
-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art 

These things are not mutually exclusive.

Netflix's tweet is genius. It doesn't mention Spielberg at all. Instead, by focusing on a strong philosophy, Netflix highlights a single, undeniable fact:

Streaming media is the future, and there's no stopping it.

Why Netflix is right (and Spielberg is wrong)

The film industry is ripe for disruption, and it's been a long time coming.

Think about it: Traditional theaters built their entire business model on getting you to spend outrageous amounts of money on concessions: 10 dollars for a tub of popcorn. (Popcorn!) Five dollars for a hot dog, another five bucks for a (small) soft drink.

Of course, you also have to make sure you get tickets, which everyone knows is no easy task on opening weekend of a blockbuster film.

Contrast that with the opportunity to watch a first-run film in the comfort of your own home. Popcorn, hot dog, small soft drink--total cost: less than 2 dollars.

Netflix knows this better than anyone. That's one reason why its strategy has increasingly focused on producing (or acquiring distribution rights for) original content. And not just any original content, but, rather, feature films with big-name directors and stars--the kind that would have blockbuster potential in theaters.

This isn't to say that traditional theaters are completely doomed. There may always be a place for a night out at the movies, especially for films that feature brilliant special effects or sound quality. (Of course, this appeal will only diminish as home theater technology continues to become more affordable.)

But if companies like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix have shown us anything, it's this:

Value, plus convenience--without sacrificing quality--wins.

Every. Single. Time.

Spielberg may succeed in persuading the Academy of his recommended rule changes. But even if he does, it'll only be a drop in the bucket. A very small battle in an unwinnable war.

You can't fight the future, after all.

In many ways, it's already arrived.

Published on: Mar 6, 2019
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