The Coens Brothers new film, the western anthology “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” hit Netflix today following a brief theatrical run that kicked off a week ago, and reviews are excellent with the film scoring a 92% and 7.6/10 on Rotten Tomatoes.
The brothers spoke with The L.A. Times this week about the choice to go with the streaming giant, who commissioned and financed the film, as opposed to a more conventional studio release. Turns out, according to Joel Coen, studios simply won’t make this kind of film anymore:
“Our feeling was great, honestly. Look, they’re the people who are investing in these kinds of movies now. I mean, there’s a lot of discussion around the way the movies are shown, whether or not they have theatrical releases or just go up on the platform. And we both have opinions about that, and it’s an important discussion.
But I think the more fundamental thing is that they [Netflix] are the people who are stepping up and spending money on movies that aren’t Marvel comic movies or big action franchise movies and that type of thing, which is pretty much the business of the studios now. We can’t argue with that.
The pair also touched upon one of the biggest elements of hypocrisy regarding both the awards race and the complaints lobbied at Netflix’s disregard for theatrical windows. Namely that many of those voters who demand that films have theatrical runs and exclusivity windows are also not really seeing many of these films in the cinema, opting instead to stick with film screeners in their homes:
Ethan Coen: “Well, we’re conflicted [about the Netflix release model] like everybody. We go, ‘It’s great if people go see movies in theaters.’ But then we go home and watch them on TV.”
Joel Coen: “It’s true – ‘oh, a screener!’ [Laughs]. In a strange way, Hollywood itself is as responsible for that as anyone else, at least amongst filmmakers. Because what they do is they give you all these DVDs of the movies that come out and instead of going to the movie theater, lazy people like us just plug them into our machines.”
Ethan Coen: “But, you know, we started in the movie business because we had some success, to whatever degree we had it, because it was a point in the movie business when they were starting to make home videos. A lot of people saw our movies on home video. That’s always been the reality for us. It’s why we have a career, so we’re not going to start complaining about it now.”
The pair also confirms that while they are fans of limited series and short-run series, they have no desire to work in the realm of ongoing television because said series often don’t have an end in mind when they begin.
“The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.