Patty Jenkins really doesn’t like streaming as a platform for exhibition or for its content and she recently explained why.
The vocal critic of Wonder Woman 1984’s dual release to HBO Max and theaters over Christmas explained to a crowd at CinemaCon (via Los Angeles Times) about her decision of releasing the film into theaters and on HBO Max.
She stated, “It was a very, very, very difficult choice. I was looking at what is actually turning out to be true, which is, we have no idea when this pandemic is going to get under control in the way that we hoped. It was the best choice of a bunch of very bad choices at the moment.”
She went on to describe the choice as “heartbreaking” saying, “It was a heartbreaking experience and hugely detrimental to the movie, and I sort of knew that could happen. I was happy to give the movie to the public. I don’t think it plays the same on streaming ever. It was the right choice for all of us, and I was very much in deep conversation with Warner Bros. about that particular film. But no, I’m not a fan.”
Jenkins then elaborated on why she doesn’t like day-and-date releases, “I’m not a fan of day-and-date and I hope to avoid it forever. The truth is I make movies for the big screen. I’m OK with people watching it for a second or third time on their phone, but I’m not making it for that experience. I love the theatrical experience, and I don’t understand why we’re talking about throwing it away for 700 streaming services that there’s no room for in the marketplace.”
“It doesn’t make sense for studios that have billion-dollar industries to throw them in the garbage so they can roll the dice at competing with Netflix. It’s crazy to me. All I’m saying is that one studio should make a huge commitment to the theatrical experience and plant the flag and the filmmakers will go there as a result,” she asserted.
Jenkins then detailed one of the big problems she has with films that go directly to streamers like Netflix – they look fake.
“Aren’t you seeing it?” she pondered. “All of the films that streaming services are putting out, I’m sorry, they look like fake movies to me.”
Jenkins added she doesn’t really read or hear about them. “I don’t hear about them, I don’t read about them,” she said. “It’s not working as a model for establishing legendary greatness.”
That’s an understandable observation from an artisan’s perspective. Martin Scorsese shares similar sentiments and every generation has filmmakers that think the advent of new technology or trends bears bad omens for the art form.
But it’s only Jenkins’ opinion and one has to wonder how she would know if she stays away from streaming releases.
She would elaborate and stated she wouldn’t make a feature film for Netflix despite an openness to doing a TV series or miniseries with them, which she considers a better deal from a marketing standpoint.
I also have a deal to make things for Netflix, because I really believe in limited series and television series. As a filmmaker there are stories I want to tell, like “I Am the Night” [for TNT], that are longer and don’t fit into the movie format. Streaming is great for massive amounts of content and bingeing TV shows.” Jenkins said.
She then opined, “I think they are two very different skill sets and I see them succeeding as two very different things. That’s why I think it’s a mistake for the film industry to throw something away so valuable.”
To that end Jenkins also stated, “I like working with Netflix for television, I wouldn’t make a movie there or any streaming service with those terms.” She added, “It’s hard to market a movie when it has a limited run.”
Not all their efforts are polished but Netflix and Amazon are pretty good at dropping films on subscribers suddenly that become phenomena in their own right. That and they often look better and can be narratively more airtight than WW84.
And don’t forget that certain streaming platforms are like HBO Max with its temporary limited release windows for the theatrical offerings. Netflix, as well as Amazon, allow users to watch their original selections ad infinitum though they and their popularity may have a shelf life in the public eye.
That not being the case with HBO Max could have added an extra sting to the failure of WW84 which Jenkins admitted broke her heart, and which she blames the streaming release for.
Do you agree with her? Has Jenkins properly diagnosed the problem with streaming or where Wonder Woman 1984 failed? Expound down in the comments.