Spielberg and Netflix, once at odds over film strategy, sign partnership

Steven Speilberg smiling in a collared shirt and dark sweater
Steven Speilberg photographed in Manhattan on Oct. 4, 2015.
(Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)

Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg, once sharply critical of Netflix’s film release strategy, is deepening his ties with the streaming giant.

Spielberg’s company and Netflix on Monday announced a partnership for Amblin Partners to supply multiple new feature films a year. Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.

Netflix’s more than 200 million subscribers “speaks for itself,” said Jeff Small, Amblin Partners’ CEO.

“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,” Small said in a statement.


Amblin said the deal is not exclusive and that the company will continue to partner with other studios, including Universal.

The new agreement with Netflix is the latest example of high-profile talent who had partnered with the streamer, as more global audiences shift to streaming.

The Los Gatos, Calif., company has dramatically increased the number of original movies on its platform, which has helped draw more paying consumers, especially during the beginning of the pandemic as people sheltered at home and looked for ways to entertain themselves.

Spielberg, who has directed such iconic movies as “Jurassic Park,” “Saving Private Ryan” and the Oscar-winning “Schindler’s List,” will help draw more fans to the service, Netflix executives said.

“Steven is a creative visionary and leader and, like so many others around the world, my growing up was shaped by his memorable characters and stories that have been enduring, inspiring and awakening,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s co-CEO and chief content officer, in the statement. “We cannot wait to get to work with the Amblin team and we are honored and thrilled to be part of this chapter of Steven’s cinematic history.”

Amblin and Netflix have collaborated on other projects before, including the acclaimed film “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and the Leonard Bernstein biopic “Maestro.”

“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, Amblin’s chairman, said in the statement.


Relations between Netflix and Spielberg were more strained in 2019, when there was widespread speculation that the prominent filmmaker had intended to propose rule changes at an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors meeting that would have required films to play in theaters exclusively for at least a month in order to qualify for the best picture Academy Award category. The changes never occurred but Spielberg was seen as taking a stand against a company that has radically disrupted the theatrical distribution business.

Spielberg has also worked with Apple’s streaming service, Apple TV+, with a reboot of 1980s anthology series “Amazing Stories.” The series’ first season premiered last year on Apple TV+.