Over two years after Hollywood was abuzz about a supposed war between Steven Spielberg and Netflix, the two have just agreed to a major partnership.
Netflix announced Monday it has signed a deal with Amblin Partners, under which Spielberg's studio will provide the streamer with "multiple new feature films per year."
Though Amblin and Netflix have worked together before on 2020's The Trial of the Chicago 7, Variety noted the news of their deal was surprising because Spielberg has "previously been seen as something of a Netflix skeptic." Indeed, The New York Times describes the legendary director as "one of the biggest proponents of the theatrical movie business" in Hollywood, whereas Netflix for years was seen as a threat to the traditional theatrical experience.
In 2018, Spielberg suggested streaming films that only receive a "token" theatrical release in "a couple of theaters" shouldn't be allowed to compete for Oscars and should instead be up for Emmys. Famously, there were then reports in 2019 that Spielberg was allegedly looking to introduce a new Academy Awards rule that would disqualify films that don't exclusively play in theaters for four weeks. Spielberg ultimately never proposed the rule and told The New York Times that he supports entertainment in "any form or fashion that suits'' audiences. Still, he emphasized at the time, "I want to see the survival of movie theaters. I want the theatrical experience to remain relevant in our culture."
Given this, Deadline wrote that "symbolically," the Spielberg partnership was "a big deal" for Netflix — and Deadline's headline even declared as the news was announced, "Hell Freezes Over?" According to Variety, whether any of Amblin's Netflix movies will actually get a theatrical release will be decided "on a case-by-case basis."