U.S. DOJ warns Academy over potential rule changes that threaten Oscars eligibility for streaming services like Apple TV+, Netflix

“The Justice Department has warned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that its potential rule changes limiting the eligibility of Netflix and other streaming services for the Oscars could raise antitrust concerns and violate competition law,” Ted Johnson reports for Variety.

“The letter came in response to reports that Steven Spielberg, an Academy board member, was planning to push for rules changes to Oscars eligibility, restricting movies that debut on Netflix and other streaming services around the same time that they show in theaters,” Johnson reports. “According to a letter obtained by Variety, the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division, Makan Delrahim, wrote to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson on March 21 to express concerns that new rules would be written ‘in a way that tends to suppress competition.'”

“Spielberg’s concerns over the eligibility of movies on streaming platforms have triggered intense debate in the industry,” Johnson reports. “Spielberg told ITV News last year that Netflix and other streaming platforms have boosted the quality of television, but ‘once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. … If it’s a good show [it] deserve[s] an Emmy, but not an Oscar.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We agree totally with Spielberg that films debuting on streaming services should be eligible for Emmys, not Oscars. Films that are first shown in theaters to comply with Academy rules which later are shown on streaming services should, of course, be eligible for Oscars.

As per that sentiment:

“Dame Helen Mirren, who won a Best Actress Oscar for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in the 2006 film, used decidedly unladylike language to wade into the Hollywood debate about whether original movies from streaming services should be eligible for Academy Awards,” Nicole Lyn Pesce reports for MarketWatch. “‘I love Netflix, but f— Netflix,’ Mirren, 73, said at CinemaCon on Tuesday night. Variety reported that those attending the convention of movie exhibitors (including film distributors and theater owners invested in people catch flicks off of their couches) met her remarks with ‘thunderous applause.'”

Pesce reports, “The actress, who was promoting her new film The Good Liar at the Warner Bros presentation, added, ‘There’s nothing like sitting in the cinema and the lights go down. I would like to thank you guys for making that environment possible.'”

Read more in the full article here.

Netflix’s wall of secrecy erodes – March 15, 2019
Apple to pursue Oscars and Emmys for new video service – March 15, 2019


  1. If the Federal Government can force the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to hand out awards to TV programs, why not the reverse? Why not books, which are also stories competing with Movies for an audience? What’s next, having a Federal official tell the Pulitzer Committee who it should consider?

    1. It would seem that they are talking about Motion Pictures. Are you saying that MOTION PICTURES developed for streaming or other forms of delivery are not motion pictures? Seems a bit stupid. Most people probably see movies created with the theater in mind on a television screen or smaller.

      It’s just snobbery from the same old Hollywood Asswipes.

      1. The Motion Picture Academy can do whatever it feels like with its awards and statues and the U.S. government can go f itself. The fact this is even being thought of is just another sign of the decline of American freedom due to governments thinking they know best about everything and they should control everything. Art and media should not be in their control.

    2. I think most people know the difference between a movie screen and book. Knowing the diference between a made for movie screen or made for TV screen is far more subtle and have a very large grey area between the two at the very least. With Hi Def tv and super large screens there is no longer a distinct line between production standards between the two and this will increasing be the case as the technologies gel together. So in the end it simply becomes a cultural matter, history against progress for the most part. The Academy have every right I feel to make the distinction it preserves their sense of exclusivity and importance though I suspect that it will be a fruitless task holding back the inevitable. Ironically Spielberg is doing as much as most to blur the lines and make that future arrive all the sooner.

      1. I don’t think it is subtle at all. A motion picture is defined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a video presentation that was originally released for theatrical exhibition and only later released for television or streaming. They have the right to adopt their own definition for their own awards, just as the Tony Awards can adopt a definition that excludes off-Broadway and live-streaming. The Federal Goverment has no damn business trying to redefine “motion picture,” and neither does Netflix or anybody else besides the Academy itself. I was being serious that if the Government gets to impose its definition of motion picture on the Academy, there is nothing to stop it from imposing its definition of journalism on a formerly free press.

    1. Theatrical movies are well past the use by date T-mac.

      Casinos do not nick your wallet any harder than a modern cinema chain. Last movie I went to was like $20 a ticket with $5 cokes, $5 popcorn, and $5 candy. $35 a person. And ads inside and a line in the restroom.

      At home I can watch in a more comfortable room, better chair, with better snacks, no kids, no parking, better audio and it always starts exactly when I want it to.

      BTW- the Criterion Channel (streaming) launches April 8th and subscribers can lock in a lower subscription rate before launch date.

  2. people don’t want to go to movie theatres

    Spielberg can try and force them to, but that’s not going to end well for Spielberg

    theatres suck for anything but action movies

    it’s over

    1. I greatly admire Spielberg as a filmmaker. I have enjoyed nearly all of his movies over the years. But his private screenings in invitation-only theater events and untold millions of dollars in disposable income have him completely out of touch with the movie experience the rest of us must endure.

      I do agree with Tim Ballmer’s first point (that people don’t want to go to movie theaters anymore). There are many reasons for this: First, the cost of tickets for a family of four can easily top $60. Add in two small popcorns at $7.99 each and four soft drinks at $4.99 each, and the bill is now over $100 with tax. Compare this to a monthly buffet from Netflix priced at $12.99, with the option to watch different movies (plus TV shows) simultaneously on separate TVs in the household. Second, the same family or individual could simply buy the movie on Blu-ray or via the iTunes Store when it’s released for the same price or less than the cost of one movie ticket. Third, when you go to a movie theater you’re basically at the mercy of the masses of inconsiderate idiots who constantly pop chewing gum, text and/or take phone calls, and provide their own commentary on the movie during every single minute because they somehow feel it is their duty to do so. The movie theaters never do anything about these ongoing distractions even though they are aware of the fact that it drives away their customers. They simply do not care.

      I understand that watching a movie on a TV is not the same visual experience as watching a movie on an actual theater-sized screen, but many people have 65″ and larger TVs (mine is 75″) in their homes now. The last movie I saw in a movie theater was Gravity, and it benefitted from the huge screen. But the cost, as well as the constant and infuriating distractions inside a movie theater, are the reasons that I and so many others have simply stopped attending — and will never return.

  3. The DOJ has no jurisdiction over what the Academy can or cannot do, especially in this regard. Can you say “overreaching?” And don’t they have better things to do with their time?

    I’ve known for years that cable was going to be the new cinema with the exception of tentpoles but I absolutely hated ROMA! Netflix with it’s deep pockets can spend the kind of money other producers and even studios can’t to push their films for awards. Why doesn’t the DOJ go after Netflix for unfair competition? Otherwise butt out DOJ!

    1. Exactly. Shouldn’t a private organization be able to set whatever standards they want to for their in-house awards ceremonies?
      Geez, this is the LAST place government should be worried about “monopolies.”
      Is the government going to start regulating Boy Scout awards next?

  4. I am with Spielberg on making a distinction between the two type of venues: TV screen and movie theater; and with awarding an Emmy to TV-size art while an Oscar to theater-size art.

  5. So the popcorn gallery is being conditioned to prefer compressed music and youtube quality video instead of live music and IMAX level video. Hash burgers instead of steak. What a shame.

    With all due respect for the people who lambaste the many visible idiots of Hollywood, these tweeter pros are on par with the IQ of your choice of rightie TV pundits. Let’s not air politics and stick to the topic, shall we?

    Spielberg has a point, but it is poorly articulated. The Academy should reward large screen developers and small screen developers with separate categories. They are fundamentally different approaches even if the average public can’t tell. One is a short story, the other is a novel consumed in one sitting.

    Consider the difference in target audience. Tell us the last time you streamed a movie and didn’t pause it, skip forward, or ignore many minutes because you were busy texting or “multitasking”. Were you busy looking at the product placement games? Occasionally there are flashes of brilliance on the small screen but the format is aimed at instant gratification. Subscriber volume, not immersive quality, is the streaming and cable business model.

    True many cinema releases have trended towards brainless digital animation with formulaic predictable schlock and static idiot characters but the large scale long duration medium delivered with top quality equipment is capable of things streaming services don’t offer and live plays could never budget for. Of course some theaters are expensive and relatively poorly managed and sometimes the viewing audience adds or detracts from a performance, but size and time and equipment quality matters. The total multisensoral experience, duration, and sheer quality of the best theaters blows away ~95% of people’s home movie setups and 100% of mobile devices. Interruptions nonstop at home. When big expensive cinematic masterpieces lose it the award ceremony because the public is too lazy to drag their butts to a movie theatre and turn off their mobiles for 2 hours, well what does that say about us?

    I don’t care what anyone says, media aimed at multitaskers is not the same as realistic, no greenscreen, powerful productions of epic scale and proportions. Streamed and cable movies deserve their own award category.

  6. The debate of “small screen vs big screen” or “movie vs TV” has been made outdated and moot by technology.

    Many of us have in our homes the entire playback mechanism – but for the projector which can fill a theatre-sized screen – of our local movie house, which is simply a 4K TV projection system writ large.

    There is NO DIFFERENCE nowadays in terms of production between “TV movies” and “movies.”


    Spielberg wants to limit the Oscars to ticket-per-viewer, pay-for-each-viewing presentations – in other words, how they run movie theaters nowadays. That’s fine by me – but let’s not lose sight of what the debate is all about – money.

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