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Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Believes Film Industry Will Change to Accommodate Streamers

Stephanie Sengwe

The topic of whether or not films made by streaming services should contend with those released traditionally in theaters has been hot topic for a while now. Last year, Steven Spielberg caused quite the buzz when it was revealed that he was planning to put up a fight against streaming movies being eligible for the Academy Awards. He was reported to have wanted streamers’ movies put up for the Emmy Awards only.

The debated got so heated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had to be involved. In a letter obtained by Variety last April, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division wrote to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying that banning streaming services “may raise antitrust concerns.”

The letter stated: “Accordingly, agreements among competitors to exclude new competitors can violate the antitrust laws when their purpose or effect is to impede competition by goods or services that consumers purchase and enjoy but which threaten the profits of incumbent firms.”

Throughout all the fuss, Netflix has continued churning out films, with their original “Roma” winning three Academy Awards (Cinematography, Foreign Language Film, and Director) and one for “Period. End of Sentence” winning for Best Documentary Short last year.

Now, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos is addressing the subject. During the Upfront Summit, which took place in Los Angeles this week, Sarandos revealed that he believes it’s only a matter of time before the industry adjusts to the streamer’s way of releasing movies. Netflix has argued that their movies can be released in theaters, but need to be on the platform sooner than the 90 days usually allotted. Traditional theater chains have countered, saying movies must maintain their standard three-month run in order for theaters to remain in business in the long run.

“The only thing standing in the way is the major chains,” Sarandos said. But, because Netflix is currently leading in Oscar nominations with “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” nominated in major categories, he believes the tide is sure to change as time goes on.

“Of Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman,’ Sarandos observed that with 40 million-plus Netflix households giving it at least a ‘start,’ the audience for the roughly three and a half-hour film is ‘definitely as big as anything in the theater,’” Variety noted.