Steven Spielberg Slams HBO Max for 'Throwing Filmmaker Friends Under the Bus' By Sending Films to Streaming

Image via Getty/Michael Kovac
Image via Getty/Michael Kovac

Steven Spielberg voiced his frustration with Warner Brothers and the streaming platform HBO Max for “relegating” films directly to TV.

In an interview with The New York Times, the Jurassic Park director was discussing his newest film The Fabelman’s, and elaborated on the importance of seeing movies in a theater among strangers.

“I found it encouraging that Elvis broke $100 million at the domestic box office,” Spielberg said. “A lot of older people went to see that film, and that gave me hope that people were starting to come back to the movies as the pandemic becomes an endemic. I think movies are going to come back. I really do.”

He said Hollywood’s transition from film to TV is nothing new, but that what’s become frustrating is how filmmakers have been treated by studios like Warner Bros., who announced in 2021 that their entire film roster would debut both in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.

“There’s been stages throughout history where we’ve seen how Hollywood has countered the impact of losing a great market share of the audience to TV,” Spielberg said in part. “They had something on NBC called ‘Saturday Night at the Movies’ and you didn’t have to go out to a movie on Saturday night. You could stay home and watch television because NBC was designing films, especially for audiences that didn’t want to leave the house. This is nothing new.”

He continued, “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.”

Spielberg said that he and his wife went to view The Fabelman's on the big screen themselves and that it was a magnetic experience, adding that the “magic of being in a social situation with a bunch of strangers is a tonic.”

“I think there has to be a concerted effort on the part of movie directors to demand that the streaming services footing the bill for most of these films give their movies a chance to be exhibited theatrically and not just in four theaters to qualify for awards,” he said. “It’s going to have to come from all of us—the WGA [the Writers Guild], the DGA [the Directors Guild] and eventually the academy.”

The Fabelman's hits theaters on Friday. Check out the trailer below.

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