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Netflix hits back as Spielberg calls for streamer-first movies to be ditched by Oscars

Netflix has responded to a move by Steven Spielberg to block movies released direct to streaming services from being considered for the Oscars by asserting that there is more to loving movies than seeing them in cinemas.

In a Tweet that did not refer to Spielberg by name, Netflix said that “We love cinema” and added a list of “some things we also love” including providing “access for people who can’t afford, or live in towns without, theatres”, “letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time” and “giving filmmakers more ways to share art”. The streaming outfit concluded by stating that “these things are not mutually exclusive”.

Netflix’s Twitter intervention came after Spielberg, who is governor of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ directors’ branch, signalled his intention to introduce a motion that movies that are shown theatrically for fewer than four weeks should be disqualified from the Oscars and should qualify for the Emmys – the TV equivalent ­– instead.

Spielberg’s move to link the Oscars to movies’ availability on the big screen follows the success of Alfonso Cuarón’s Netflix movie Roma, which won this year’s prizes for best director, best film in a foreign language and best cinematography. Cuarón’s movie was in competition with US movie Green Book, the winner in the best film category, which had been supported by Spielberg.

Hollywood studios had expressed disquiet that Netflix reportedly spent large sums promoting Roma ahead of the Oscars, not only outspending Green Book but forcing out other foreign language contenders.

However, a number of directors, including Selma’s Ava Du Vernay and Evil Dead director Bruce Campbell, have also resorted to Twitter to take issue with Spielberg’s argument, arguing the case for Roma and asserting that which platform movies are available on is now less relevant.