Filmmaker Sam Mendes has handled movies on various scales from smaller indie dramas like “Away We Go” to medium-budgeted period pieces like “Revolutionary Road” and “Road to Perdition,” and blockbusters like the last two James Bond films.
Recently came “1917,” his highly cinematic wartime action feature that unfolds across a single unbroken shot (mostly) and demands to be seen in cinemas. Reviews have been strong, and the film’s good enough that it won both the Best Picture (Drama) and Best Director awards at this past weekend’s Golden Globes.
In the wake of that win, backstage at the awards, Mendes talked to THR about the debate over cinema’s value in the streaming age. He says it’s up to filmmakers to entice audiences back to the cinemas, and to do so by pushing the boundaries of technology and the craft:
“I am optimistic, actually, but it’s in the hands of the filmmakers more than anything else. It’s up to filmmakers to make films that need to be seen on a big screen and make an audience feel like if they don’t see it on the big screen, they’ll miss out.”
He also says adult dramas like “American Beauty” which he made two decades ago would have a “guaranteed theatrical release” back then. It doesn’t work that way today, and he understands that:
“That is no longer the case. However, you have an incredible platform for those movies to be seen by millions of people on television screens. Big and wonderful television screens. I don’t think, as a director of those movies, I would have been disappointed if ‘Away We Go’ was seen in a two-week theatrical window and then on TVs. I think what’s important is that filmmakers are ambitious and that they use the tools of cinema, surround sound, IMAX, and every fiber of their being to make big stories for big screens.”
“1917” is currently in limited release and goes wide this coming Friday.