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Should Netflix movies qualify for Oscars?

They’re taking money from the movie theater industry

Opinion by Alexander Elmore

Director Steven Spielberg  recently said in a interview that Netflix films should not be able to qualify for Academy Awards, but should only be able to be nominated for Emmys, as they should be considered television, not films.

Spielberg is absolutely right in this statement for many reasons. According to the official Academy Award qualification rule sheet, any film that wishes to be eligible for an Oscar must have their first public exhibition in an official motion picture theater, with the sub rule that at least one of those theaters must be in Los Angeles county in California.

Part of the reason for these requirements is that forcing films to be shown for any amount of time in an actual theater creates revenue for the struggling movie theater business. Spielberg also points out that this is not just an anti-Netflix agenda of his. He believes that this ban should apply to all streaming services as well as films that do not have a full theatrical release.

What this implies is that films that simply release in “select cities” for only a week or so at the end of every year simply to get nominated (Netflix affiliated or not) should not get nominated because they are not allowing the full potential audience market to see their films. This means that films like I, Tonya, which did release across the country in December, should have the opportunity to be nominated, while films like Mudbound (a Netflix film), which was only released for limited time in theaters, should be excluded.

Aside from a likely futile attempt to save the movie theater industry, this also helps to save the “magic of movies,” because streaming a film alone at home is nothing like experience of watching that film in a theater of people. It is also likely not the way the filmmakers wanted the film to be viewed.

No one is saying that Netflix original films are not good or worthy of recognition. While Spielberg and the Academy have no personal grudges against Netflix (Netflix films have won Oscars before) this debate is more of principles and an attempt to hang onto that which is likely already lost but is worth trying to save.

They do everything a major movie studio does

Opinion by Jaleesia Fobbs

If ‘Netflix and Chill’ is anything to go by, it is clear that Netflix has become an integral part of modern pop culture, whether it’s binge-watching the entire new season of Stranger Things the moment it comes out, or having a variety of movies at the fingertips when company is over.

People love going to the movies, and Spielberg’s concerns regarding the cinematic industry are legitimate, but viewers should utilize the issue of the lack of theater releases as motivation rather than a stopping point for Netflix.

If Netflix is not eligible for Oscars because it doesn’t show movies in theaters, then why  not let it have the chance to show up in theaters? Netflix has taken on movies such as the The Little Prince that was on its way to the theaters before it was cut and orphaned for unusual or unknown reasons. Think of it as the Pluto of movie producers: Netflix is meeting every expectation of an Oscar-qualifying feature film except for the theatrical releases. Even if Netflix were to only release movies on a small scale, people would not only once again promote the theater industry that Spielberg and others are so worried about, but they would give Netflix a chance at something it has been worthy of for a long while now.

The production value and sheer amount of work put into a Netflix film is just as valuable as any other film in theaters. But, the “movie theater experience”—the big screen, surround sound, and overpriced snacks—is simply impossible to replicate on the same grand scale at home.

Imagine seeing The Fundamentals of Caring or When We First Met on the silver screen. Ultimately, Spielberg is right—the film industry in theaters is dying, and fast. But if people can manage to continue supporting movies of every sort by experiencing them in theaters, then there is no reason for Netflix to be excluded from being an option. Go to the movies, let the critics have their Oscar qualifications met, and enjoy the opportunity to binge-watch Netflix in a local movie theater. But, do not exclude Netflix from an industry that it belongs in.

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