After the Oscars, word got out that Steven Spielberg is agitating for a rule change that would effectively block Netflix from competing for Oscars as they don’t much believe in distributing their movies in theaters when the whole point of their company is to make movies available instantly at home. It’s a short-sighted view from Spielberg, which wouldn’t really work anyway as both major Netflix contenders in 2018, Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, played in cinemas for several weeks, and Spielberg’s proposed change would impact movies that only run for a week in a handful of cinemas to qualify, i.e., a movie like On the Basis of Sex would be disqualified. At the time that Spielberg’s plan was being discussed a few weeks ago, a lot of people were quick to suggest that, but for a paycheck, Spielberg’s anti-streaming stance could be softened. And, well, didn’t that turn out to be true as yesterday it was revealed that Spielberg is involved with Apple’s new, Netflix-rivalling streaming platform.
The big Apple unveiling of their streaming plans was sort of anticlimactic. Sure, the event was crazy star-studded—Spielberg was joined by the likes of Oprah, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, Alfre Woodard and Jason Momoa, Kumail Nanjiani, Big Bird, and more. It was as high profile a coterie as you could ask for to launch your new streaming platform. (So why was it so f-cking BORING? Chris Evans’ Extreme Bored Face was all of us during the livestream.) And there, amongst all the stars and creatives, Apple is throwing obscene amounts of money at to make original stuff for their platform, is Spielberg, who doesn’t think movies released on streaming are proper cinema. Wonder what the guy who signs his Apple paychecks thinks of that. It’s only a matter of time until Apple is competing for an Oscar, and Spielberg is on that raft now. These are his people. He’s not above the streaming bonanza. He’s in it along with everyone else.
I bet his rule change doesn’t happen. Everyone is in bed with streaming, including the guy who doesn’t like streaming movies. Spielberg apologists will point to Amazing Stories, the 1980s Amblin anthology series—think Twilight Zone lite—that is being revived on Apple TV+ as the reason he’s there. Sure, but it still doesn’t look good. It looks like he is fully willing to take streaming money but wants them to play by his rules. It’s very “have my cake, and eat it, too”, and that’s not a good look on anyone. It’s almost as bad a look as the name “Apple TV+”. They should drop the “+”. Just “Apple TV”. It’s cleaner.