Aussie actor Joel Edgerton has made waves in recent years as a filmmaker in his own right, directing both 2015’s “The Gift” and last year’s “Boy Erased” – the first opening wide and the second in limited release.
Recently he’s re-teamed with his “Animal Kingdom” helmer David Michod for the Netflix Shakespeare film adaptation “The King” in which he plays the iconic role of Falstaff opposite Timothee Chalamet as Henry V. Edgerton also co-wrote the script adaptation with Michod.
Out doing promotion for that, he’s revealed that he’s now had second thoughts about how “Boy Erased” was released in cinemas and tells Indiewire that streaming would’ve been the better way to go with the film.
“Boy Erased” dealt with a young man subjected to gay conversion therapy, had a high-profile Fall film festival launch and a strong marketing campaign from Focus Features. Even so, the film’s reviews were a bit muted, it didn’t turn out to be an awards-season player, and it flopped financially – garnering only $11.8 million at the global box office from an $11 million budget.
Edgerton explained why he accepted the Focus deal and how, having now worked with Netflix, he can’t help but contemplate the missed opportunity that came with a global streaming launch for a film that he hoped more than anything would generate conversation:
“We had a really interesting debate about which way to go. Focus had this incredible track record with putting out these LGBTQ films like ‘Brokeback’ and ‘Milk,’ so I felt we were in the right hands. We wanted to create a face-to-face scenario where we’d have face time with audiences and have Q&As and generate discussions. To me, it felt like that was the right way to go.
[However] The moment you put something on a streaming platform, everybody in every household in all these countries can see it at the exact same time. You don’t get that chatter – and this was sad for me – of, ‘When is this film coming to my country?’ or, ‘I have to drive five hours to see it,’ or, ‘I just can’t afford the time and money.’
I realized, ‘OK, that’s a good enough reason to put a movie as soon as you can on Netflix, especially with ‘Boy Erased.’ The pride that everybody felt with that film about the ability to help start conversations within families, change points of views, make them feel differently in their lives, made me wish we could’ve just dropped it everywhere rather than holding onto it.”
The comments come at an interesting time as more and more major filmmakers are launching films directly via streaming and even using the Fall film festival circuit to help a streaming launch – Netflix in particular will open around a half dozen of the films most raved about in Venice, Telluride and Toronto before the year’s out.
Even so, pushback against that and other streamers by exhibitors and ardent supporters of the ‘cinematic experience’ who want to enforce exclusivity windows is still rampant and isn’t going away anytime soon.