“The Revenant” and “Birdman” filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who is currently serving as the head of the Cannes Film Festival jury, has conducted a new interview with The New York Times to talk about the biggest issue facing cinema these days – its potential demise at streaming’s hand.
Up until now, most of the filmmakers who’ve talked about this issue – from Steven Spielberg to Pedro Amoldovar – have been very much on the side of exhibitors and protecting the whole ‘theatrical experience’. Inarritu, surprisingly, is not one of those stalwart defenders and seemingly has more time for the streamers than the exhibitors or studios due to the limited range of product the latter put out. He says:
“Some of the films will only get to you through streaming services, but I think the big problem is that when it comes to the way films are being produced, distributed and exhibited, the system is homogenized. It leaves almost no space for other kinds of films in the world. The easy way out has been to blame Netflix – they have been the scapegoat.
But my point is that there’s nothing wrong with Netflix. Netflix is capitalizing on the lack of diversity in cinemas and putting it on TV. I’m very privileged to have the position that I can do ‘Revenant,’ but how many young filmmakers do not have the access to those budgets and films? They have to now consider TV as their only choice”
That said, he admits Netflix’s gain is going to come at a loss to the filmgoing experience at a fundamental level:
“I want to be very clear that I support Netflix 100 percent. At the same time, we have to make a point that exhibitors and distributors have a great responsibility here. We are all letting this medium die, and just becoming a franchise-entertainment park. And if those studios, distributors, and exhibitors don’t find a way forward, Netflix will eat them alive.”
He adds that if Netflix can work with exhibitors and give audiences the choice of how to view the films, then both could thrive – but the exhibitors and studios have to work with them.