Steven Spielberg signs a deal with Netflix to produce multiple new movies per year. It is a huge boost for Netflix at a time when competition with streaming rivals including Disney+ and HBO Max is heating up.
Spielberg has been sceptical about streaming in recent years but has praised the Netflix deal as an 'amazing opportunity to tell new stories together'.
Spielberg also praised his close relationship with Netflix co-CEO and content chief Ted Sarandos, a former industry outsider who has risen to become one of Hollywood's top power brokers.
The Academy Award-winning director of big-screen classics such as 'E.T.', 'Schindler's List', 'Jaws', and 'Saving Private Ryan' will continue to direct and produce movies for Comcast Corp's Universal Pictures under a separate agreement. Spielberg's upcoming 'West Side Story' will be released by Disney-owned 20 Century Studios.
The announcement does not specify whether Spielberg, who in recent years has produced many more films than he has directed, will personally direct any of the Netflix movies. Amblin produces several movies beyond the ones that Spielberg directs himself.
Recent Amblin projects included 2018 best picture winner 'Green Book' and 2019 World War One drama '1917,' both distributed by Universal.
This deal comes as the industry moves from a model that insisted on lengthy, exclusive 'windows' for movie theater releases, to one in which major films often appear on streaming platforms simultaneously or very soon after they hit the big screen, sometimes skipping theaters altogether. That move has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another production by Spielberg's Amblin, 'The Trial of the Chicago 7,' was intended for theatrical release by Paramount but ended up on Netflix last year while thousands of movie theaters were closed.
Other top directors who have recently joined forces with Netflix include Martin Scorsese ('The Irishman'), Spike Lee ('Da 5 Bloods') and David Fincher ('Mank').
As well as 'West Side Story', which is due in theaters in December after being delayed by the pandemic, Spielberg is currently developing a semi-autobiographical film about his childhood in the southwestern state of Arizona.
Netflix was one of the big winners of the pandemic after seeing a surge in subscribers as people the world over were confined to their homes.
Shares and subscribers have dropped off this year as lockdowns were lifted and the streaming wars continue to heat up.