Steven Spielberg has had an intriguing character arc as of late. He caused a little drama a few years ago for his purported belief that movies made for Netflix that get theatrical award season runs shouldn’t qualify for Oscars. Then he worked with Apple TV and whatever the hell Quibi was. Now, the lauded filmmaker has entered a new partnership with none other than Netflix.
Deadline reports that Spielberg’s Amblin Partners has inked a deal with the streamer that will co-exist alongside the director’s current deal with Universal Pictures. Neither Universal nor Netflix will have first-look power over Spielberg’s upcoming projects, but the deal with Netflix means Spielberg’s production house will develop “multiple movies per year” for streaming, according to the trade. “[Spielberg is] a creative visionary and leader and, like so many others around the world, my growing up was shaped by his memorable characters and stories that have been enduring, inspiring and awakening,” Netflix Co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “We cannot wait to get to work with the Amblin team and we are honoured and thrilled to be part of this chapter of Steven’s cinematic history.”
Spielberg added in his own statement: “At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the centre 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. 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 [Stuber, Netflix’s Head of Global Film], and the entire Netflix team.”
In spite of Spielberg’s public tussle with Netflix back in 2018, the news is not entirely surprising given the director’s trajectory. For nearly a decade Spielberg has talked about the movie industry’s slow but certain push towards VOD content, and Spielberg’s been involved on streaming shows from the production side like Showtime and Paramount+’s upcoming Halo series (which the director has been connected to for years at this point), or his work on the Amazing Stories reboot for Apple TV+.
Just last year, Spielberg pitched and developed Spielberg’s After Dark for the short-lived Quibi streaming platform, which will now air on Roku’s Roku channel after Quibi crashed and burned late last year. While some might be quick to poke a bit of schadenfreude at Spielberg teaming up with his one-time “nemesis” — and Netflix’s deal is a major get — it’s not quite as surprising as some may think it to be.