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In an unexpected turn, cinema giant Steven Spielberg has struck a multiyear deal to make movies for Netflix. A huge get for the streaming giant, Mr. Spielberg’s Amblin Partners Studio will make multiple new films for Netflix over the course of the agreement. The pact with Netflix doesn’t affect Mr. Spielberg’s long-term relationship with Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures where Amblin Partners is based.

Netflix’s signing of Mr. Spielberg, whose body of work includes Jaws, E.T., Indiana Jones, and Saving Private Ryan, indicates that the company is keeping a sharp eye on its rear-view mirror for competitors. Although Netflix is far and away the most popular streaming service with 208 million members around the globe, its competitors are growing in number and strength. This deal brings great prestige and the most popular filmmaker of all time to the Netflix roster.

Top-Grossing Directors
Name Top Film Total Box Office

1Steven SpielbergJurassic Park ($1.034 billion)[3]$10,548,456,861
2Russo brothersAvengers: Endgame ($2.798 billion)[4]$6,844,248,566
3Peter JacksonThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($1.142 billion)[5]$6,546,042,615
If adjusted for inflation, Spielberg would have a wider margin

The move is surprising and a sign of the major changes taking place in Hollywood, in part because Spielberg has previously been seen as a vocal Netflix skeptic. In 2019, for instance, the director reportedly urged the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to bar day-and-date streaming releases from being eligible for Oscars. He drew a distinction between Theatrical and Television movies. 2019 was also the year that a Netflix-produced film, Roma (Alfonso Cuarón), was nominated for 10 Oscars.

The Netflix movies reportedly do not have any budgetary or genre requirements attached to them. They may also receive some type of theatrical release as have other Netflix pics such as The Irishman and Marriage Story, but that will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber, head of original films at Netflix, who previously worked closely with Spielberg when Stuber was co-president of production at Universal, both played key roles in hammering out the deal.

“At Amblin, storytelling will forever be at the center of everything we do, and from the minute Ted and I started discussing a partnership, it was abundantly clear that we had an amazing opportunity to tell new stories together and reach audiences in new ways,” Spielberg said in a statement. “This new avenue for our films, alongside the stories we continue to tell with our longtime family at Universal and our other partners, will be incredibly fulfilling for me personally since we get to embark on it together with Ted, and I can’t wait to get started with him, Scott, and the entire Netflix team.”

Amblin and Netflix have worked together recently. Amblin produced The Trial of the Chicago 7 (Aaron Sorkin) which was originally set at Paramount before being sold to Netflix during COVID. It received six nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards, including a nod for best picture. Amblin and Netflix are currently collaborating on Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic, Maestro, which is currently in pre-production.

“By deepening our ties with Netflix via this new film partnership, we are building on what has for many years been an incredibly successful working relationship in both television and film,” Amblin Partners CEO Jeff Small stated. “The global platform they’ve built — with more than 200 million members — speaks for itself, and we’re extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work closely with Scott and his amazing team to deliver Amblin’s iconic brand of storytelling to the Netflix audience.”

Under Sarandos and Stuber, Netflix has made a point of consistently working with major auteur filmmakers, many of whom made their names by creating movies for the big screen. Those moves have come at a time when major studios have grown more risk averse, forgoing more personal or idiosyncratic films in favor of superhero pics and franchise sequels. In this atmosphere, directors like Spike Lee (Da 5 Bloods) and Martin Scorsese (The Irishman) have set up shop at the streaming service after studios balked at their movies’ budgets, while David Fincher recently signed a multi-year deal with the company. But Spielberg, with his resume of Oscar winners like Schindler’s List and blockbuster franchises like Jurassic Park, towers over all in many respects.

Amblin’s feature output includes the Best Picture Oscar winner Green Book and the Sam Mendes-directed 1917 which won three Oscars. Upcoming is the Colin Trevorrow-directed Jurassic World: Dominion, which shot during the pandemic and will bow on June 10, 2022. Amblin is also producer on Stillwater, directed by Tom McCarthy (Meet the Parents) and starring Matt Damon.

Spielberg’s deal may help Netflix attract even more talent.

A few of his movies

“In one fell swoop, Netflix gets an A+ filmmaker AND silences a critic. Smart,” one top producer told TheWrap.

That producer was not wrong.

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David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.

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