Netflix poaches Fox exec for theatrical distribution

Netflix has hired a 20th Century Fox distribution exec as director of theatrical distribution.

Spencer Klein, who most recently served as EVP and general sales manager for 20th Century Fox, will oversee the theatrical roll-out of the streamer’s awards contenders, such as Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.

He will report into Netflix’s head of film Scott Stuber.

The exec takes over for distribution vet Andy Gruenberg, who died suddenly in January. He had most recently managed the theatrical distribution of Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma.

Klein’s prior experience includes sales roles for New Line Cinema and The Weinstein Company. He was also SVP of film and alternative content for The Film Group.

The big-name hire signals that Netflix is serious about giving its original films a real shot at awards contention via theatrical releasing.

The streamer has, for some time, drawn the ire of filmmakers and cinema execs who posit that Netflix should not be considered for awards because films are made available online simultaneously or ahead of theatrical release.