Hollywood legend Helen Mirren took aim at Netflix during an appearance at CinemaCon, where she was promoting her upcoming movie The Good Liar.
CinemaCon is an annual convention that began in 2001 and claims to be the “largest and most important gathering for the worldwide motion picture theater industry.” The convention is the “Official Convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).”
During her appearance at CinemaCon Mirren told the audience, “I love Netflix, but f*** Netflix.” She would add, “There’s nothing like sitting in the cinema and the lights go down. I would like to thank you guys for making that environment possible.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, her comments “prompted plenty of laughter from the crowd.”
Mirren is no stranger to criticizing streaming services. Last April, she spoke to Total Film magazine detailing how streaming is “devastating” to her husband, Taylor Hackford, and other film directors.
“It’s devastating for people like my husband, film directors, because they want their movies to be watched in a cinema with a group of people.”
She would add:
“An audience, a movie, and you’re all in it together. You’re frightened, you laugh, you cry all together. So it’s a communal thing. And that’s beginning to disappear.”
Mirren isn’t the only person concerned about the effects of Netflix and streaming services and their effect on the movie theater and film business. Prolific director Steven Spielberg made his opinions on the matter quite clear when he declared that Netflix movies do not deserve to be nominated for Oscars.
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”
A representative from Amblin Entertainment, founded by Spielberg, also pitched Spielberg’s idea to Indiewire.com.
“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”
While Spielberg’s idea seems to be gaining popularity among Hollywood, Variety reports the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division might actually get involved if the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences decides to prevent Netflix and other streaming services from receiving Oscar recognition.
A letter from the chief of the DOJ’s Antitrust Divison, Makan Delrahim, to AMPAS CEO Dawn Hudson expressed concerns over barring streaming services from receiving Oscar recognition.
The letter says in part:
“In the event that the Academy — an association that includes multiple competitors in its membership — establishes certain eligibility requirements for the Oscars that eliminate competition without procompetitive justification, such conduct may raise antitrust concerns.”
The DOJ letter cites Section 1 of the Sherman Act which “prohibits anticompetitive agreements among competitors.”
“Accordingly, agreements among competitors to exclude new competitors can violate the antitrust laws when their purpose or effect is to impede competition by goods or services that consumers purchase and enjoy but which threaten the profits of incumbent firms.”
“If the Academy adopts a new rule to exclude certain types of films, such as films distributed via online streaming services, from eligibility for the Oscars, and that exclusion tends to diminish the excluded films’ sales, that rule could therefore violate Section 1.”
What do you make of Helen Mirren’s comments regarding Netflix and streaming services? Do you think both Helen Mirren and Steven Spielberg have a point? Should movies created by streaming services be treated differently? Or are they stuck and unwilling to change with technology? What do you think about the possibility of the Department of Justice getting involved? Let me know what you think!