Lately, writer/director Quentin Tarantino has been in the news for various topics promoting his book; however, one of the most fascinating things Tarantino talked about was streaming-only movies. Thanks to Screenrant, Tarantino spoke on the ReelBlend podcast, and let’s just say that the filmmaker is not a fan of streaming-only movies:
“I think it’s depressing. I’m glad that I’m working with Sony, which doesn’t deal with that. They haven’t gone down that route…it just really makes me think about 2019, when we came out with Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, it really makes me think that, wow, myself and Joker and 1917, it was like we were birds that just flew through a window just as the window was slamming shut. And we practically got out tail feathers caught by the slam. But we got out in time.”
Now, Tarantino isn’t the only filmmaker who has spoken out against streaming films, with Christopher Nolan and Denis Villenueve notably blasting HBO Max for their decision to put their 2021 releases on the streaming platform. Obviously, the rise in streaming-only movies is due to the pandemic. With nearly everything shut down for a good portion of 2020, you can’t blame studios for selling their films to boost sales of their respective streaming platform.
Cost-wise, putting a movie on a streaming platform makes complete sense. Take Disney plus, which gains 100% of the profits from customers who decided to purchase Cruella or Mulan for $30 bucks on their streaming platform. Had both films wen to theaters, Disney would’ve been forced to share the profits with theaters, which is pretty much something any company would like to avoid. However, does that mean streaming films are a good thing?
In 2020, theaters came dangerously close to being shut down for good. In fact, when the HBO Max deal was announced, many thought the days of people going to the theaters were over. You can argue the many negatives of the theater experience; the high price, rude consumers, and the out-of-date theater model in cineplexes. However, too many film fans, going to the theaters is a fun experience that you can’t get at home. The fun crowd, the huge IMAX screens, and the nachos! For many, the movie experience is best served inside a theater, not in a living room with a 32-inch Sony television.
Don’t get me wrong, streaming does provide a source of entertainment. When Netflix decided to start making original movies back in 2012, it provided different escapism that fans never had before. Sure, you’re familiar with those cheap Syfy and Lifetime cable movies, but Netflix provided big-budget flicks that didn’t have terribly bad dialogue, washed-up C-List celebrities, and embarrassing special effects that rival Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Going back to the business front, movies going directly to Netflix was a benefit for most directors as well. Before streaming began, films that didn’t have the fortune to be released in theaters were discarded straight to DVD. Sure, most of them were crap; however, there were a few gems such as Trick-R-Treat and The Voices. The benefits of movies going to streaming allow these often-ignored films to be given a chance to be seen by more than five people. Also, without Netflix, we likely wouldn’t have gotten films such as “The Irishman”, “Roma”, or “Beasts of No Nation”.
Despite the positives of streaming-only films, there’s simply nothing better than the movie-going experience. As mentioned earlier, going to the theater feels like an event, especially when you’re watching a blockbuster film such as Avatar or The Avengers. Streaming movies have their purpose and provide an entertaining distraction for when you’re flat out too broke to go to the theaters or you’re bored out of your mind. However, streaming movies are not the future of film distribution; Despite early concerns that the day-to-day releases of 2021 films on HBO Max, the move will reportedly cost the studio up to one billion dollars, and given the lackluster results for Wonder Woman 1984, Mortal Kombat, and Godzilla vs. Kong on the new streaming site, it doesn’t appear that Warner Media or any other studio will make this move come 2022. With the restrictions of the pandemic slowly easing up, audiences seem to agree with Mr. Tarantino as F9, The Quiet Place II, and Black Widow all have done pretty well both in domestic and global sales. So, is Quentin Tarantino wrong about only films? Yes. They serve their purpose to today’s market; however, streaming movies do not provide the same experience films in theaters do. There’s nothing wrong with having your cake and eating it too.