For many directors, streaming services are seen as a threat to established movie-viewing experiences. Some even think they are eroding the purity of cinema.
Plenty of prominent names have made snarky remarks about streaming services and how they should take a back seat to movie theaters. Are their criticisms justified, or are they blowing everything out of proportion?
Let's explore some big-name movie directors who have criticized streaming services.
1. Christopher Nolan
2021 forced movie executives to make tough choices about new releases. Some decided to push premiers, and others chose to release in theaters and on streaming services on the same day. Warner Bros. made the latter choice and stated that its 2021 slate will get released in cinemas and on HBO Max simultaneously.
Christopher Nolan didn't like that and branded HBO Max “the worst streaming service.” He said:
Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service.
According to Nolan, this decision was utterly nonsensical economically and would lead to financial loss and poor viewing numbers.
Considering the lockdowns caused by COVID-19 that continued into 2021, it made sense for studios to not place all their eggs into the cinema basket. Many people remained apprehensive about leaving their homes and going to a theater, so having the option to pay for a new release and watch it in the comfort of their couch made sense.
Many directors seem to believe that streaming services pose a deadly threat to cinemas, as if both cannot exist together and there can be only one.
2. Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg has made quite a few catty remarks regarding streaming services.
According to him, if your film debuts on TV through a streaming service, that movie shouldn't qualify for an Oscar since it's a TV movie. It's believed that when he stated this, it was a dig directed at Netflix and its film Roma. Ultimately, Roma ended up winning a few Oscars.
He's also not a fan of streaming platforms in general, since he views them as a threat to movie theaters. Spielberg is a staunch believer that you should always choose to go to a theater to experience a movie.
Since Spielberg plans to create movies with Netflix that will get shown on the platform, he has clarified how he intends to urge people to prioritize viewing those movies at a theater instead of only on the Netflix platform.
He does have a point that streaming services have taken away from the movie theater business, but not to the level where it's a threat. Theaters continue to thrive to this day because going to the cinema is an experience.
No one wants to spend $30 for popcorn and sit next to someone with their phone screen at full brightness. What makes it worthwhile is experiencing the feature on the big screen with beautiful sound. That's worth leaving your home for.
James Gunn and Sofia Coppola have made similar remarks in defense of movie theaters against streaming services.
3. Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese took it a step further than merely making a comment during an interview on streaming services. Scorsese published a whole essay.
In his essay, he criticizes the modern movie industry and focuses on the many wrongs of streaming services.
Even though he admits streaming services are helpful to movies, since they make them available to a massive number of people, and admits that he has profited from streaming services, he remains unhappy with the core of how these services operate.
He states streaming services devalue the art of cinema because they view films as content to get exploited and profited from. It's a wonder Martin Scorsese hasn't fallen off his horse yet, given it's so high.
He states these platforms' algorithms level the playing field when it comes to movies, and that's not democracy but something that needs to be changed. Despite what Scorsese believes, streaming services do democratize the platform and everything it has to show, and that's a good thing.
The service doesn't just shove new releases down your throat unless they match your likes and viewing history. There's comfort in knowing you see what caters to your preferences instead of what movie directors and business execs would have you watch.
4. Patty Jenkins
The famous director had something to say about films released on streaming services. She dubbed them fake and proclaimed that she makes “movies for the big screen.”
It's streaming services she blames for Wonder Woman 1984 not performing as successfully as expected on release.
Wonder Woman 1984 debuted on HBO Max at the same time it was shown in theaters, and the director saw that as a prominent (if not the only) reason why the movie performed as poorly as it did and didn't hit it with audiences.
Whether she's using streaming services as a scapegoat for the lousy performance of the movie is debatable.
We live in a time when “movies for the big screen” will inevitably end up on a streaming service. Already, some have forsaken their theater releases to come out only on a streaming platform. Or, take the route that Jenkins took with the Wonder Woman sequel, and release on both screens simultaneously.
So, it's hardly fair to call one screen fake and idealize the other.
Streaming Services vs. Movie Theaters: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Movies get made so people can watch them. Therefore, whichever medium one chooses to consume a feature on, the bottom line is that the feature gets consumed. It reaches viewers.
Why do some people decide to pit two services against each other when these services ultimately complement each other? They don't work against each other, but simply focus on different things. Streaming services offer convenience, whereas cinemas provide a more special viewing experience. Both generate views and profit.
Author: Simona Tolcheva
Source: Simona Tolcheva.” 4 Movie Directors Who Have Criticized Streaming Services”. Retrieved From https://www.makeuseof.com/movie-directors-who-criticized-streaming-services/
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