Last night, I went to see “Kong: Skull Island” (again) on 70mm, and simply put, it looked fantastic, and I’d say even better than the IMAX 3D version I first saw. I’ve also been streaming “Riverdale” on Netflix, and I’m fully wrapped up in the series, which is spurring all kinds of water-cooler conversation. Both methods of consuming media have their merits, and can make for memorable viewing experiences, and it’s the point that Ted Sarandos continues to hammer home about the role Netflix plays in the changing film and television landscape.
In a new interview with Deadline, the streaming-service exec makes clear his belief that the theatrical viewing experience is not the only means to have an enriching and rewarding relationship with cinema.
“A lot of directors will come in and they will talk about the movies that they saw, and these are the movies that influenced them and made them want to be a filmmaker, and in almost every case they watched them at home on a VHS tape. There’s a romantic notion about the film being on a big screen. There’s definitely something about a [Sundance] premiere at Eccles [theater] that you can’t replicate — that I can’t replicate — but the fact is, that happens for a couple hundred people once a year. We’re doing it every day for the world,” Sarandos said. “People who are discovering a movie that might change their life; that’s who they’re talking to. We have to get rid of the romantic part. I don’t really think that they’re mutually exclusive. I think over time that these films will get booked into theaters at the same time they’re on Netflix.”
I’m a big believer of seeing movies in the theater, but I can’t deny that Sarandos has a point. There are plenty of people who are discovering great movies — new and old — without leaving home. We can argue about seeing a movie the way a director intended (I’m sure Jordan Vogt-Roberts wants everyone to see ‘Kong’ at the multiplex instead of on their phone), but we’re in a time when tradition is clashing against technology, and when people’s interactions with media are shifting greatly. And Sarandos sees the current theatrical model as completely dated.
“What I’m trying to do is take the benefits and the beautiful byproduct of the internet, which is all about consumer choice, and apply it to movies where no one else has. The theatrical movie window is the only window that really still exists. Every other form of entertainment is pretty much available to consumers where and when they want it. Perpetuating the movie window — adding new money to perpetuate the old system — I don’t think is really that interesting,” he added.
For even more from Sarandos, listen to his conversation with Pop Culture Confidential below. Thoughts? Hit up the comments section.