The Situation Room – Spanish director’s view about Netflix is only sour grapes

Mac Olsen,
Editor, Smoky River Express
Can high-profile film festivals and video streaming services coexist without rancour, or one undermining the other?

Some in the entertainment industry have their concerns, but I say that the two can forces can co-exist and that one actually helps the other.

Chris Knight wrote a story for the National Post, which appeared on May 17. In the story, Pedro Almodovar, a Spanish director who is also the
President of the Feature Film Jury for the Cannes Films Festival, doesn’t think highly of video streaming services, concerned that they take away from the big theatre movie experience.

Almodovar was asked if he would rather have his films seen in 190 countries – i.e., on a streaming service – or win a Palme d’Or.

“I prefer absolutely to be seen in not only 190 countries, but always to be seen on a big screen,” he said in the article.
“Digital platforms are a new way of offering work, which is interesting and positive. But they should not take the place of existing formats. They shouldn’t change the habits of viewers. That’s the core of the debate.”

Wil Smith, another jury member, says his family embraces both the big screen and Netflix.

“In my home, Netflix has had absolutely no effect on what they go to the movie theatre to watch,” he said. “They go to the movies to be humbled in front of certain images. And there’s other films that they preferto watch at home. It’s two completely different forms of entertainment.”

I think Will Smith is far more accurate in his assessment of the theatre-versus-video streaming debate, and that Almodovar’s assessment is nothing more than sour grapes.

Throughout history, one thing that the entertainment industry and media companies the world over have had to adapt to is change. Debate, fear and condemnation of new technologies and media platforms has come right along with that change.

And the doom-and-gloom about the game changing technologies coming forward has always been over-rated and over-estimated.

The media formats like VHS tapes, then DVD and Blu-Ray, were predicted to be the demise of the big-screen and theatre experiences. But those are still in existence today, and thriving inspite of the continuation of DVD and Blu-Ray.

Now, there’s angst and, I would even say, snobbery, about video streaming services. This media format has become very popular throughout the world in the last decade. But it hasn’t undermined the big-screen experience or the Cannes Film Festival.

Like the vast majority of people, I still go to movies at theatres for the big-screen experience. Then I look forward to seeing them on a video streaming service, and even buying them on Blu-Ray.

Perhaps directors like Almodovar condemn video streaming services out of fear that their prestige will take a hit from these mass market tools. But the reality is, they have to adjust to them regardless.

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