Netflix widens its jaws to take a blockbuster bite out of the ...

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Netflix widens its jaws to take a blockbuster bite out of the competition

The streaming service has signed top Hollywood producer and director Steven Spielberg to produce films for it

Tara Lachapelle

When Steven Spielberg agrees to make movies for Netflix, it’s no longer just a Covid-19 pandemic phenomenon. Even if the box office’s relocation to the living room is only a partial one, it is permanent. And it’s forcing Hollywood and Netflix to realise how much they need each other.

In a game-changing announcement on Monday, Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners, signed a deal to produce multiple films a year for Netflix, attaching one of Hollywood’s most influential producers and legendary directors — Jaws, ET, Jurassic Park — to the most popular entertainment venue of recent times. It’s significant in that Spielberg and Netflix once represented industry antipodes (“Hell Freezes Over?” read one entertainment site’s headline on Monday). Beyond the symbolism, though, the result of the partnership may be meaningful for Netflix users and investors concerned about the at-times subpar quality of its library. 

In the 14 years since Netflix began offering online content, it has single-handedly revamped the concept of home entertainment, slayed pesky cable contracts and reshaped Hollywood, all largely to the benefit of consumers. But while variety and choice were its signature offerings, the streaming-video provider wasn’t known for quality filmmaking. Netflix seems to be looking to change that perception as its up-and-coming rivals — studio owners that have built generations of good will with moviegoers — now make their own push into streaming. Every Warner Bros film being released in theatres this year is also being made available on HBO Max the same day. And Walt Disney is reimagining its lucrative Marvel and Star Wars film franchises as TV series for the Disney+ app, a strategy that has helped it quickly scale to more than 100 million subscribers, about half as many as Netflix, but in a fraction of the time. Amazon.com also recently struck a deal to acquire MGM Studios to improve its Prime Video catalogue. ..

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