Netflix has caught one of the biggest proponents of the theatrical film business: Steven Spielberg.
Mr. Spielberg’s Amblin Partners has signed a multi-year deal to produce a number of feature films annually for the streaming giant. Details of the deal were scant, but it would not replace Amblin’s existing agreement with Universal Pictures.
Universal has a long history with Amblin and has distributed some of its previous films, including the Oscar-winning films “Green Book” and “1917”. The studio will also distribute “Jurassic World: Dominion”, also produced by Amblin, in June 2022. (Mr. Spielberg’s next directorial effort, an upcoming remake of “West Side Story,” will be released by Disney in December.)
“At Amblin, storytelling will be at the center of everything we do, and from the moment Ted and I began discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we have new ways of telling new stories together and in new ways. It was an amazing opportunity to reach audiences from the US, Mr. Spielberg said in a statement on Monday, referring to Ted Sarandos, one of Netflix’s co-CEOs.
In 2020, Amblin rejoined Universal Pictures for a further five-year stint, which included supplying three to five films a year to the studio and its subsidiary Focus Features. When that deal was announced, the companies said the new agreement would “provide new opportunities for Amblin in the streaming film marketplace,” suggesting that the production company would buy into the deal with a different streaming service.
Netflix nailed Amblin, in part, due to its huge reach of over 200 million global subscribers.
In 2019, there was talk in Hollywood that Mr. Spielberg was gunning for Netflix and wanted to propose a rule change to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that would block movies that were primarily streaming services. But will stop being considered for an Oscar. It didn’t turn out to be true. “I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them,” Mr. Spielberg said in a statement at the time. “Big screen, small screen – what really matters to me is having a great story and everyone should have access to great stories.”
But he also made sure to reaffirm his commitment to the theatrical business: “I want to see theaters exist. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.”