How HBO Max, Netflix and other giants managed to destroy cinema, according to Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg is one of the most influential and relevant filmmakers of all time. With films like Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, Jaws and E.T. on his resume, the moment he identifies a new threat to world cinema, chances are he’s right.

In a thick interview with The New York Times, later picked up by Variety and other major publications, the famed filmmaker points to a paradigm shift for a very large number of filmmakers. In his view, they are getting “thrown under the bus” by executives of streaming platforms who arbitrarily decide not to release their films in theaters, but only online.

Steven Spielberg has three Oscars and is no fan of HBO Max

The disaster he referred to in particular is the Warner Bros. group’s decision to release all 2021 movies on HBO Max and in theaters on the same day. In Spielberg’s view, that decision justified by the reality of the pandemic period changed the consumption habits of adult viewers.

“The pandemic created an opportunity for streaming platforms to grow their subscriber base to record levels and also throw some of my best filmmaker friends under the bus, as it was bluntly decided that their films would no longer get theatrical releases,” Steven Spielberg said. “They were paid, but their films were suddenly sent, in this case, to the HBO Max platform. This is the case I’m talking about. Then everything started to change,” explained the director behind Saving Private Ryan.

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“I think older viewers were relieved that they didn’t have to step over sticky popcorn. But I think at the same time, for those same more experienced viewers, once they step into the theater, the magic of being in a social situation with strangers is invigorating. Then it’s just up to the films if they are good enough to make all the audience say that to each other after the lights come back on,” he added.

While he is aware that films like Marvel, DC Comics and Pixar will still hit cinemas and gross fabulous box office, the example that excited him last year was Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. “I find it encouraging that ‘Elvis’ has crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. A lot of older people went to see that movie and that gives me hope that people are starting to return to the theaters as the pandemic becomes an epidemic. I think movies will come back. I really believe that,” Spielberg concluded.

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Spielberg does find merit in streaming platforms, however, because they expose ideas, important cases, relevant topics to an audience of millions, instantly. “I made the film ‘The Post’ as a political statement about our times to reflect the Nixon administration, and I told myself it was an important reflection so that a lot of people would understand what was going on in our country. I don’t know what I would have done if I had gotten that script after the pandemic, if I would have preferred to make that movie for Apple or Netflix and have it reach millions of people. Because my film had something to say to millions of people, and we would never have been able to get millions of people into enough theaters to make a difference. Things have changed enough to make me tell you this,” added the American director.

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