Why Steven Spielberg Teaming Up With Netflix Is A Surprise Turn

Steven Spielberg directing

Streaming has shaken up the film industry a lot over the last decade, with the likes of Netflix, Hulu and more delivering their own original movies on top of the existing content they were already licensing from other sources. Few of these movies end up having theatrical runs, and the ones that do aren’t up on the big screen for that long. While director Steven Spielberg expressed concern a few years back about streaming services disrupting the ability to keep seeing movies on the big screen, the filmmaker has now partnered up with Netflix to bring cinematic content to the platform.

Netflix and Amblin Partners, the production company that manages the Amblin Entertainment banner that Steven Spielberg founded with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall in 1981, have joined forces for the latter to deliver “multiple new films” to the former per year. No specific projects have been announced yet, but here’s what Spielberg had to say about the partnership in an official statement:

At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted [Sarandos] 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], and the entire Netflix team.

In its writeup about the Netflix/Amblin partnership, Deadline revealed that this deal does not mean that Netflix automatically gets first dibs on Amblin-produced movies. Instead, some of Steven Spielberg’s movies will keep going to Universal Pictures, and others will be put on Netflix. Amblin already had some ties established with Netflix, as it co-produced The Trial of the Chicago 7, which was originally supposed to be theatrically released by Paramount Pictures, but was later acquired by the streaming service. The two companies are also collaborating on Maestro, the Bradley Cooper-starring Leonard Bernstein film that’s in preproduction.

While Steven Spielberg’s initial comments back in 2019 about the “conflict” between theatrical and streaming might have seemed to some like he had a bone to pick with Netflix, the filmmaker later clarified that he wants people to find their entertainment in “any form or fashion that suits them.” That said, he’ll always be a supporter of the theatrical experience because he thinks people should have the opportunity to “sit in the company of others and have a shared experience.” Two years later, Spielberg is now open to working directly with Netflix, although whether or not he will direct one of these Amblin movies that will be uploaded to the platform is unclear.

We’ll just have to wait and see what kind of movies Amblin Partners ends up delivering to Netflix, but there’s plenty to look forward to from the production company in the near future. The West Side Story remake and Finch (formerly known as BIOS) comes out later this year, while 2022 will bring Jurassic World: Dominion and Indiana Jones 5.

Don’t forget to look through our Netflix June 2021 guide to learn what the streaming service has already released this month and what’s still to come. As for Steven Spielberg, he’s currently working on The Fabelmans, which is loosely based on his childhood and stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogen, among others.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.