Diller and Spielberg on the Growing Dominance of Streaming

On Kara Swisher’s podcast Recode Decode, Barry Diller declared that Hollywood is “now irrelevant,” adding that those executives who used to hold a lot of power now have much less and that the six movie companies that once dominated everything no longer do. “For the first time, they ain’t buying anything,” he said. “Meaning they’re not buying Netflix. They are not buying Amazon.” Meanwhile, at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, Steven Spielberg declared his affinity for the movie theater experience.

Recode reports Diller declared that Netflix has “won this [streaming] game” and that “those who chase Netflix are fools.”

“No one can get, I believe, to their level of subscribers, which gives them real dominance,” he said. By that, he includes Amazon Prime, saying that its model is, “if you join Prime, we’re giving you things” such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” or “Black Panther.” “But that model,” he concluded, “to people in the entertainment business, is like, ‘Oh my god, how did that happen?’”

The Verge reports Spielberg said that, “movie theaters need to be around forever.”

“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” he said. His comments, said The Verge, “have been taken as a pointed slight against streaming services like Netflix and Hulu … and they come at a contentious time in the industry, as perceived streaming upstarts challenge big studios for audiences and official recognition.”

In the debate over whether a streaming release, such as Netflix’s “Roma,” should be considered for an Oscar for Best Picture, “Spielberg seems to be on the side that feels that streaming-service releases shouldn’t be eligible at big awards shows because, regardless of length or storytelling mode, they’re primarily intended for a home viewing platform.”

“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” Spielberg said last year. “You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar.” But Spielberg has also championed the kind of smaller films made by outlets like Netflix and HBO, expressing concerns over the studios’ focus on blockbusters based on franchises.

Spielberg’s twin concerns that “studios are shutting out small movies and that streaming services might be getting too much recognition for small movies … appear antithetical.” The Verge notes that his belief that “TV movies … undermine theaters … seems like a strangely backward philosophy that puts presentation above content.” It is, The Verge concludes, meant “not as a swipe against the streaming industry, but as an expression of anxiety for theaters.”