Netflix has branded itself as the home where filmmakers and storytellers can create with access to the money, tools, and freedom they don’t have elsewhere. But no situation is ever perfect, and at the end of the day, Netflix owns your content. And in the future, they might just cut it to hell.
Speaking with journalists today, chief product officer Neil Hunt revealed that Netflix is considering offering different cuts of their original movies and TV shows, specifically framed for mobile. “It’s not inconceivable that you could take a master [copy] and make a different cut for mobile,” he said (via The Verge), adding that is was something that was probably a few years down the line from happening (if it did).
As Slashfilm points out, this smells a lot like the what we went through with Pan & Scan era on VHS and DVD. If you’re too young to remember, essentially, in the early days of home video, movies were recut to fit the square shape of most televisions at the time, meaning that widescreen images had the sides chopped off. Cinephiles and filmmakers bemoaned the practice, and thankfully, that changed, and people realized that the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen, preserving the original widescreen image, were just fine.
It makes sense that Netflix wants to accommodate viewers who are increasingly watching movies and TV on their iPads or phones (shudder), but from the creative side, knowing that the gorgeous image you’ve spent all kinds of time creating is going to be reshaped by some Netflix technician is probably horrific. But at the very least, since they don’t own the rights to the material they license, this is only something Netflix would do to their own content.
It’s all part of Netflix’s plan to kill the “romantic part” of the big screen experience, and while I’m willing to embrace change, there are some things fundamental to movies and television that should just stay the same.