In a recent Indiewire article written by Eric Kohn, Netflix is put on the spotlight as a convenient source for film, not only for film viewers, but also filmmakers. This contradicts much of what I personally have seen circulating about Netflix. Many of the articles I read come from cinephiles who “love to hate” Netflix as a medium that destroys the artistic fabric of cinema with its domestic convenience by de-popularizing the experience of actually leaving the house and going to a movie theater, an experience that can alter the perception of a film. While I agree that movie theaters do have inherent value with their majestic enforcement of isolation between the audience and the screen, it was refreshing to hear Kohn argue for the benefits of Netflix. Perhaps I am biased. Netflix capitalizes on the values of a millennial college student: affordability and accessibility.
Kohn references the fears of cinephiles that think, “going to the movies will one day become a rarified experience, akin to the opera or a Broadway play.” Kohn responds to these fears by claiming, “most people got to that point a long time ago.” He makes an excellent point that, more or less, establishes Netflix and other streaming services as a reality of the present and a reality of the future. Simply put, it’s here; get over it.
Kohn defends Netflix’s value to filmmakers as a source to market unconventional films, whether it is avant-garde content, lengthy run times, or budget constraints. He mentions that Martin Scorsese’s newest film The Irishman was signed with Netflix because “Scorsese demands big budgets and expansive running times that make studios quiver with uncertainty…” Netflix caters to a variety of filmmakers, both indie and mainstream. Netflix productions offer an avenue for many filmmakers when it appears they have reached a dead end in marketing.
For those who enjoy going to the theater to experience a film in all of its undistracted glory, Kohn and I both agree with you. The theater experience is a unique one that cannot be replicated at home, no matter how large the projector screen or how loud the subwoofers. It is a thrilling experience that should not be abandoned. Kohn puts these minds at rest when he says, “Certain movies demand an active audience to find them, and in many cases, process them in a large format that does justice to the vision. That screen will always exist. For everything else, there’s Netflix.” Cinema complexes will not go away. They may become less popular, but those who enjoy the lurid experience of the big screen will not be let down.