Steven Spielberg, one of the best directors of all time, has criticised the way that movies were released during the pandemic. During the height of the pandemic, in many areas cinemas were completely shut down. Instead, movies were released on streaming services or delayed.
Due to this, many streaming services saw huge upticks in their subscription numbers as people found themselves missing out on new releases. In some instances when cinemas were reopening movies, such as the epic science fiction movie Dune, were released simultaneously on streaming services and in cinemas, giving audiences the choice of how they could watch the latest movies. This impacted their box-office performances, and for some filmmakers was a disappointment if they believed that their movie should be best seen on the big screen.
Now, in a conversation with the New York Times, Spielberg has given his opinion on the situation. He said “The pandemic created an opportunity for streaming platforms to raise their subscriptions to record-breaking levels and also throw some of my best filmmaker friends under the bus as their movies were unceremoniously not given theatrical releases. They were paid off and the films were suddenly relegated to, in this case, HBO Max. The case I’m talking about. And then everything started to change.”
It’s a topic that will elicit a lot of opinions. Filmmakers like Spielberg and Villeneuve believe in the sanctity of the theatrical experience, feeling that not seeing a movie in a cinema means that you can’t fully appreciate the movie. However, many audiences also prefer to watch new releases from the comfort of their own home. Either way, the release pattern for movies has now largely returned to a more normal, pre-pandemic system.
Spielberg’s next release is his semi-autobiographical drama movie The Fabelmans. It is a fictionalised version of his childhood, exploring his relationship with his parents and the journey that took him to filmmaking. It is now open in theatres in the US, and will be available to watch in the UK in January 2023. For more from Spielberg, check out our guide to the Indiana Jones movies.