The Bull's Eye

Adjusting the awards spotlight to streaming services

Photo courtesy of CinemaBlend

The conflict  between traditional and contemporary  forms of entertainment  has been brought into the limelight. Steven Spielberg is leading the fight to make Academy Award  nomination rules stricter to guard against movies that are streamed competing against theatrical films.

Even though his intentions are gallant, Spielberg’s proposed changes will inevitably hold back the film industry as a whole from moving forward.

In his commentary, Spielberg has mainly focused  on some of the more fundamental differences between original content from streaming services and  films that play in theaters. Despite the one-week minimum theatrical run to qualify for a nomination, most studios have adhered to a 90-day window for theatrical releases before digitalization.

Netflix broke this precedent by only releasing “Roma” in theaters for three weeks before making the film exclusively available to its users. “Roma” went on to win three Oscars, which made the film industry acutely conscientious of the disparity between big-budget theatrical films  and streaming services.

As an influential member of the Academy’s Board of Governors, Spielberg is spearheading possible changes to the rules surrounding theatrical windows.

“I don’t believe that films that are given token qualifications, in a couple of theaters for less than a week, should qualify for the Academy Award nomination,” Spielberg told ITV News.

Spielberg is pushing for a 28-day window, mainly because of the dwindling number of people going to cinemas. Movie theaters are not as much of a staple in American lives as they were even 20 years ago, which is concerning for directors such as Spielberg, who wants to preserve the movie-watching experience. Spielberg said he believes that streamed movies should be categorized as television films and be eligible for the Emmys instead of Oscars.

Theaters and movies have been synonymous since the Nickelodeon theater opened in 1905. For decades the movie experience has been the same: going to a cinema, sitting in an audience and watching a film with the big screen and surround sound. This model has been challenged by VCRs in the 80s, DVDs in the early 2000s and now by streaming services. The loss of the authentic moviegoing experience is a pivotal factor in the push for tightening nomination requirements.

While Spielberg’s attempt to protect the industry is admirable, it shouldn’t apply in the age of modern film. Streaming services have slowly been integrated into our daily lives in the past decade. Netflix started as a DVD rental service, similar to the obsolete Blockbuster, and is now the leading streaming service, with 139 million paid subscriptions worldwide.

With its immense revenue, Netflix  began to invest in and release original motion pictures. With the increasing budgets and celebrity casts in Netflix movies, the distinctions between streaming-service films and their box-office released equivalents are becoming more blurred.

The Academy has been slow in adapting to the changes in the entertainment industry. The Academy must realize that by turning a blind eye to streaming services, the film industry will not evolve and remain relevant in the eyes of the public.

Now, people are relying on streaming services for entertainment more than ever before. These numbers will continue to grow because of the extreme convenience and accessibility of these sites. If the movies featured on these services are excluded from the Academy, the younger generation will naturally lose interest in the Oscars. As time moves forward, the Academy will undoubtedly become archaic.

 It is not in the interest of the film industry to prioritize  movie theaters over rewarding well-made content. The number of moviegoers decrease every year and these numbers will not increase by shunning streamed movies from the Academy Awards.

The Academy Awards should acknowledge all films of outstanding content and not focus on their theatrical release.

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