Academy Rule Changes From the Spielberg Vs. Netflix Battle? Maybe Not What You Think

We’re a week from the first post-Oscars governors meeting, on March 19; that’s usually the time for the show postmortem. However, the Spielberg vs. Netflix elephant is already waiting in the boardroom.

While supporters can (and do) wax poetic about the “theatrical experience,” there’s a very practical question on the table: Just how far is the Academy willing to go to declare the primacy of brick-and-mortar cinema? Currently, the Oscar-qualifying requirement is one week in a commercial theater — and that release can be day and date with streaming. Governors argued heatedly about this on Oscar night and since, complaining that Netflix movies like “Roma” have an unfair advantage: They have the deepest pockets, the biggest platform, and no obligation to the 90-day theatrical release window.

Steven Spielberg clearly believes that movies belong in movie theaters, but extending the theatrical requirement could impact documentary, foreign-language, and independent films that

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