“The most nervous screening” Steven Spielberg Has Ever Had for One Movie Had Nothing to Do With Box Office or Critics

Inside Steven Spielberg's heart-pounding screening experience.

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Credits: Wikimedia Commons/Elena Ternovaja


  • Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans draws inspiration from his formative years as a filmmaker while exploring his familial dynamics.
  • The movie reflects on Spielberg's early ventures from making a war short with friends and dabbling in homemade horror films.
  • While the film went on to receive critical acclaim, he admitted feeling the most nervous, when it came to showing the movie to his three sisters.
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Renowned for his brilliant storytelling and cinematic prowess, filmmaker Steven Spielberg has encountered his fair share of critiques and box office jitters throughout his illustrious career. However, when it came to the 2022 film, The Fabelmans, he was anxious not for anticipated reviews or ticket sales, but due to the impending reaction of his family members.

The Fabelmans | Credit:

Inspired by his own life, the film follows Gabriel LaBelle as Sammy Fabelman, the sixteen-year-old son of The Fabelmans family, who dreams of becoming a filmmaker. It explores the protagonist’s family dynamics, friendships, and his love for filmmaking, and the acclaimed director later admitted to being extremely nervous when it came to screening the film for his sisters.

The Fabelmans Became the Most Nervous Screening For Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans draws inspiration from his formative years as a budding filmmaker, centering around a character named Sammy who reflects Spielberg’s own experiences and aspirations.

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans
The Fabelmans | Credit: Universal Pictures

While the names of the characters were changed, the stories surrounding Sammy Fabelman highlighted Spielberg’s early ventures from making a war short with friends and dabbling in homemade horror films involving his younger sisters.

“I was a Grimm’s Fairy Tale of a brother,” he said in an interview with Readers Digest. Along with his aspirations, the film also explores his familial dynamics, the relationship between his parents, and their split, along with how it all impacted him.

The filmmaker has shared that while his father would not have wanted these stories to be told, he chose to share them, seeing it as a personal journey of healing. The movie received critical acclaim and went on to become one of his most celebrated works.


Steven Spielberg at the 2017 SDCC [Photo: Gage Skidmore]
Steven Spielberg | Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
However, the Oscar-winning filmmaker admitted feeling the most nervous, when it came to showing the movie to his three sisters, who had been his collaborators in his early cinematic experiments. “The most nervous screening I’ve had,” he said, reflecting on showing the film to his sisters.

And his sisters were equally impressed by the movie and his vision for the film, as he shared that they praised the movie, by saying that it honors their parents. They were so moved by it, that they ended up crying the first time they saw the film.

The Fabelmans Evoked Deep Emotional Response from Steven Spielberg’s Sisters

Steven Spielberg meticulously attended to details, especially regarding his mother, Leah Adler, in the 2022 film. Through numerous Zoom calls and emails, he wanted to ensure the recreation of his childhood in Phoenix brings their story to life authentically on screen.


In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times, the filmmaker recalled his sisters Nancy Spielberg and Sue Spielberg’s initial reaction to the movie. He shared that they were weeping when the film was over. “You looked a little afraid of us!” Sue Spielberg told her brother.

Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans
Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans | Credit: Universal Pictures

To which the filmmaker replied, “I didn’t know what to do… So we left to give you a little more time.” He admitted feeling a mix of concern and pride, torn between his roles as a brother and a filmmaker. Yet, the overwhelming emotional response from his sisters affirmed the success of his creative endeavor.

“I think the brother in me wanted to apologize for putting them through this …,” he said before adding, “… and the filmmaker in me thought, ‘OK, well … it worked on them!” Anne Spielberg was also moved to tears when she watched the film a week later.


And revisiting certain scenes has become a cherished ritual for her. The Spielberg sisters described the movie as a timeless portal to their past, providing solace and comfort as they navigate the complexities of loss and remembrance.

The Fabelmans is available to stream on Paramount+.


Written by Laxmi Rajput

Articles Published: 2454

Laxmi Rajput is a writer at Fandomwire. She finished her Post Graduation in Broadcast Journalism and worked as a Business News writer for a year. But her interest in entertainment and pop culture compelled her to find a way towards Entertainment Journalism. She has worked across various fields and has 2 years of experience in content writing. She likes reading, music, movies, and traveling. She aspires to become a fiction writer in the future.