Steven Spielberg, the master of the big screen, has signed a new contract with Netflix in which his production business, Amblin Partners, will produce multiple feature films for the streaming giant each year. The deal, which Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has been courting for a long time, is a big coup for the company, bringing perhaps the most beloved film director more officially into the streaming fold amid mounting competition.
The arrangement, which was revealed on Monday, does not include any films directed by Spielberg. With Disney’s 20th Century Studios, he will release “West Side Story” in theaters in December. Universal Pictures has a separate arrangement with Amblin for theatrical releases.
“At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways,” Spielberg said in a statement. “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, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott, and the entire Netflix team.”
Spielberg has been accused of being anti-movie streaming in the past. “Hell Freezes Over?” pondered a Deadline Hollywood headline on Monday’s announcement. However, in 2019, Spielberg rebutted the anti-streaming image that has been linked with him. According to reports at the time, Spielberg believed that streaming releases, which he compared to made-for-TV movies, should compete for Emmys rather than Oscars. That year, Spielberg said, “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to remain around forever.”
He stressed that whether it’s a large or tiny screen, “what really matters to me is a great story and everyone should have access to great stories.”
“However, I feel people need to have the opportunity to leave the safe and familiar of their lives and go to a place where they can sit in the company of others and have a shared experience — cry together, laugh together, be afraid together — so that when it’s over they might feel a little less like strangers,” Spielberg wrote in an email to the New York Times. “I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”