Julianne Moore, Charlie Hunnam & More Chime In About Netflix Versus Theatrical Experience Debate

After Steven Spielberg, once again, ignited a massive debate over what constitutes a real “film” versus a “TV movie,” everyone seems to have an opinion. The filmmaker’s most recent issues with the definition of a “feature film” seems to stem from Netflix coming close to winning a Best Picture Oscar for “Roma” a couple of weeks ago. And with seemingly everyone in Hollywood working with Netflix or another streaming service, it appears that there are plenty of people with opinions on whether or not streaming services are good or bad for business and whether or not these movies should actually be considered real films.

In a new report from Variety, numerous folks chimed in on whose side they’re on in the Netflix versus traditional theatrical distribution debate.

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“There are two sides to the story,” Oscar winner Julianne Moore said. “On the one hand change happens all the time and we adapt. On the other hand there are valid and beautiful ways to view films that are disappearing. I don’t like conflict… I think, don’t we all want an opportunity to make beautiful things and celebrate them.”

Despite her reluctance to take a side, there’s probably a large segment of movie fans that would agree with her sentiment. Why choose a side between traditional theatrical experience and Netflix when you can seemingly have both and both are celebrating the art of film?

Charlie Hunnam doesn’t necessarily pick a side, either. However, the actor, who is appearing in the upcoming Netflix film “Triple Frontier,” thinks that the streaming service is providing an avenue for filmmakers that isn’t currently available in the traditional studio structure.

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“I think that Netflix is being really, really daring in their willingness to take a gamble on original adult programming,” the actor said. “Eighty percent of everything I watch, I watch on Netflix.”

The most nuanced answer comes from director Joe Berlinger. If anyone would be qualified to have an opinion on the difference between a TV movie and a traditional feature film, Berlinger is your guy. The director, who is probably best known for his landmark true crime ‘Paradise Lost’ docs, has won both Emmys and an Oscar for his work. And he’s currently responsible for a true crime docuseries on Netflix, as well as the upcoming “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” was just purchased by the streaming service and is poised to have an exclusive theatrical run later this year.

“As an Academy member I am concerned about the Academy staying relevant and understanding the seismic shifts that are happening in how people consume entertainment, and a small theatrical release followed up by a global streaming release is the future of viewing for my daughters’ generation,” said Joe Berlinger.

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“More importantly, as traditional Hollywood continues to focus on big, blockbuster global event films and comic book sequels, the edgy adult-themed ‘indie’ dramas that until recently were a flourishing category of cinema are in danger of extinction,” he continued. “The entry of players like Netflix gives these kinds of very cinematic movies a new lease on life, and as a filmmaker and an Academy member, I want to give these kinds of movies every opportunity they deserve to survive, regardless of how many traditional theaters they play in.”

In regards to what seems like Spielberg’s plan to add new qualification rules to the Oscars to prevent Netflix from joining the festivities, Berlinger doesn’t think that’s the right way to move forward.

READ MORE: Paul Schrader Talks Streaming Vs. Theaters & Explains Why He’s Happy Netflix Passed On ‘First Reformed’

He explained, “I don’t think we should try to create some artificial line about what is ‘cinematic’ by how many theaters the movie has played in, especially when many people have better viewing systems at home than some of the theaters out there and many great pieces of cinema, both scripted and unscripted, enjoy robust film festival life but limited theatrical life because of the subject matter they dare to take on and the absurdly high [marketing and distribution] cost that an average movie must take on now for a pure theatrical release.”

As you can see, there are definitely mixed feelings about the future of the distribution paradigm for films. It would appear that most everyone loves what Netflix is doing, but really has no way of figuring out how the streaming service and exhibitors can be happy together. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the weeks to come.