The director referred to the decision by Warner Bros. to release their films in 2021 day-and-date with HBO Max in an interview with The New York Times. At the time, Christopher Nolan criticised Warner Bros. over the sudden announcement.
“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,” Spielberg said.
“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.”
He added: “I think older audiences were relieved that they didn’t have to step on sticky popcorn. But I really believe those same older audiences, once they got into the theater, the magic of being in a social situation with a bunch of strangers is a tonic… it’s up to the movies to be good enough to get all the audiences to say that to each other when the lights come back up.”
Spielberg credited Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis as a film which gave him hope for the success of movies aimed at adults at the box office moving forward.
“I found it encouraging that Elvis broke $100million 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.”
Spielberg’s latest feature, The Fabelmans, is set to be released in cinemas on November 23. The film is loosely based on the director’s adolescence and first years of his career, told through the story of a fictional young aspiring filmmaker called Sammy Fabelman.
Gabriel LeBelle leads the cast as Sammy, alongside Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch and Julia Butters.