Department Of Justice Warns Motion Picture Academy Against Barring Netflix From Oscar Competition
The lines have been drawn in what is now Hollywood’s biggest fight: Netflix VS. Spielberg. Earlier in March, director Steven Spielberg reported that he would propose new rules for the Academy Awards at this year’s Governors Board Meeting, on which he serves as one of three Director Governors. According to an interview he did with iTV, Spielberg wants Netflix films to be barred from Oscar competition, claiming that they adhere more closely to the television format than to theatrical films. In response, Netflix tweeted back at Spielberg, illustrating all that they do to help the movie industry.
We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:
-Access for people who can't always afford, or live in towns without, theaters
-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art
These things are not mutually exclusive.
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) March 4, 2019
But on March 21, Makan Delrahim, head of the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, sent a letter to Academy CEO Dawn Hudson warning him about the implications of following through with Spielberg’s plan. “In the event that the Academy — an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership — establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without pro-competitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns,” Delrahim wrote in the letter later obtained by Variety. Reportedly, the move to bar Netflix from the Oscars may violate Section One of the Sherman Act that “prohibits anticompetitive agreements among competitors.”
Spielberg has yet to comment publicly on the Justice Department’s threat, but an Academy spokesperson told Variety that they are still planning on having the discussion Spielberg wants at the April 23 governors meeting. “We’ve received a letter from the Dept. of Justice and have responded accordingly,” he said. “The Academy’s Board of Governors will meet on April 23 for its annual awards rules meeting, where all branches submit possible updates for consideration.”
Meanwhile, filmmakers and celebrities continue to take sides in the debate. On Monday, Academy-Award winning actress Helen Mirren seemed to back Spielberg, shouting out “F– Netflix” at an event to promote her newest film. Others, such as Alfonso Cuaron, whose Oscar-nominated Netflix film Roma sparked much of the debate, remain committed to the streaming platform.