Steven Spielberg is at a crossroads. Formerly known as the king of blockbusters, Spielberg is now an arthouse indie filmmaker because The Fabelmans failed to make a billion dollars during its obnoxiously short theatrical run. After making such hits as Jurassic Park, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and Ready Player One (people like to forget that movie grossed more than $575 million in 2018), there’s nowhere to go but into obscurity. C’est le vie. They can’t all be winners—even though people probably would’ve seen Fabelmans had it played in more than a thousand theaters and not dumped on streaming a month after release.
Nevertheless, Spielberg’s not licking his wounds—he’s looking for a job. But, unfortunately, someone already directed Mare Of Easttown. Appearing on the ridiculously popular Smartless podcast (via The Playlist), Spielberg told hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett that he has an “appetite for long-form” narrative series. “Someday, I will direct a long-form series,” Spielberg said. “I mean, if someone would have brought me Mare Of Easttown, I would have done that. [Laughs] That was a beautifully directed story.”
Not that he hasn’t tried in the past. Spielberg, after all, got his start directing classic episodes of Columbo and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. Later, he produced shows for HBO, including Band Of Brothers. During the podcast, Spielberg said he was even “willing to do Lincoln as a six-hour” series, but “no one believed in it.” For a young upstart like Spielberg, with but three Oscars and $10 billion in box office receipts to his name, he could not convince the powers that be to make the thing. “I went around town, and everyone turned me down.”
“I was ready to make a deal with HBO to do it and expand it to six hours. Tony Kushner’s first draft was 550 pages, so I had the goods! I had the material. I don’t know if I could have talked Daniel Day-Lewis into doing six hours, but I was on the brink of that.”
Even without six hours of Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln grossed more than $275 million worldwide. It’s a good thing he went forward as a movie because there’s a good chance that HBO would’ve produced the project and never released it.