The Next Great Hollywood Debate: Traditionalist Filmmakers vs. Netflix
The competition in the world of media and entertainment has just gotten fiercer. When filmmaking started booming in the 1940s, the only means of watching films, which were distributed by the major studios, was taking a trip to the neighborhood movie theater. Since the birth of the industry, a film’s success is often determined by how it performed at the box office.
The New Wave of Movie Screenings
In 1985, Blockbuster paved way for a more convenient and unique way of watching films by starting a home movie and video game rental services. It was an instant success – film enthusiasts spent their Friday nights waiting in line to get a hold of their all-time favorite Hollywood classics.
12 years later, a new rental company, Netflix, reformed the screening business by offering unlimited online streaming subscriptions and the rest was history. For decades, what we’ve seen on screen was exclusively controlled by the prominent studios in Hollywood. Today, Netflix has joined the battlefield and evolved into a massive company that produces and distributes its own films and TV shows.
Strikingly, they have been delivering exceptional content that truly revolutionized the entertainment industry, so much so that their original films and shows were getting recognized and nominated for awards, particularly the Academy Awards, in the same manner as theatrically released films. This is the part where veteran filmmakers in Hollywood who strongly believe in the studio system started putting in their two cents.
…Christopher Nolan, argued that by no means will he ever work with the streaming giant specifically because he feels that the company deprives moviegoers of the theatrical experience.
Illustrious director, Steven Spielberg, firmly opposes this kind of acknowledgment because he believes that the Oscars should be given solely to films that were made for the box office, preferably films that last beyond a week in the theaters. Another renowned filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, argued that by no means will he ever work with the streaming giant specifically because he feels that the company deprives moviegoers of the theatrical experience. Not to mention, he finds Netflix’s distribution strategy as gratuitous, for the reason that the rapid rate of movie releases and turnovers hinder appropriate theatrical presentation.
When Netflix’s films were shown in Cannes, one of the most prestigious international film festivals in the world, it sparked an uproar. Cannes has always supported tradition and exhibited films that are only released in theaters, but in 2017 when Netflix’s Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories played in the festival, filmmakers and enthusiasts from all over the world expressed their displeasure with the decision.
…their hope is for traditionalists to adapt and grow with the advancements happening in the industry.
As a result, Cannes instituted a regulation that only films shown in theaters are allowed to participate. Conversely, Netflix responded to this decision by officially pulling out from the festival because their foremost concern is to protect their independent filmmakers from being disparaged by critics and it was only fair for them to play by the rules. Although, Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, expressed that a few people from their team will still be attending the festival to acquire films. Netflix powerfully believes in the future and art of film, and their hope is for traditionalists to adapt and grow with the advancements happening in the industry.
The entertainment industry has a universe of its own. It’s a huge well-oiled machine run by renowned executives, moguls, and highly talented creatives. The way it operates, whether people agree with it or not, has been proven to be an effective system for achieving success. Indeed, Netflix is unstoppable and they clearly intend on becoming even bigger, and being a new competitor that has the potential to take over the system keeps Hollywood filmmakers on the lookout.
No matter what form film and TV may take in the coming years, the focus should revolve more on finding ways to keep creating inspiring and groundbreaking stories…
To the eyes of the audience, the argument may seem petty and uncalled-for. However, for people in the industry, creating films is a craft that involves blood, sweat, and tears that deserves the utmost respect and proper accreditation.
No matter what form film and TV may take in the coming years, the focus should revolve more on finding ways to keep creating inspiring and groundbreaking stories that would start (and continue) the conversations that our society needs in order to express the issues we have been suppressing.
Hopefully, traditionalists and modernists will find a common ground because the future of filmmaking is in their hands. Above all, as time evolves, we must also keep an open mind by embracing the changes that are happening across all industries.