But it turns out it was all for naught—not only did the Academy not change the rules around streaming services and their place at the Oscars, Spielberg didn’t even attend the meeting. The New York Times reported yesterday that Spielberg was too busy working on his remake of West Side Story in New York to attend—and, citing sources, that the director believes his statements about Netflix have been overblown by the media.

But that alleged belief did not stop Spielberg from providing a comment to the Times, in which he walked back his earlier Emmys comments and said instead his priority wasn’t that services like Netflix lost their seat at the Oscars table, but instead to preserve the idealism of the movie theater experience:

I want people to find their entertainment in any form or fashion that suits them. Big screen, small 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. I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture.

It should be noted that Spielberg’s apparent change of heart comes after reports by the Hollywood Reporter last month that the director met with Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos in the wake of the news regarding his alleged campaign. And after he made a big to-do alongside Apple late last month when he unveiled his Amazing Stories reboot as part of the tech company’s grand plans for Apple TV+.

But re-positioning his concern about streaming services as a defense of the tangible moviegoing experience is a bit more noble than sneering that maybe the output of streaming services, in an age where there’s more and more of them on the way, should belong with those “teevee awards” instead of at the Oscars.


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