Just as his latest masterpiece Dunkirk is about to debut in theaters around the world, Christopher Nolan has made his thoughts on Netflix abundantly clear. The Englishman is synonymous for utilizing IMAX cameras for his films, attempting to make the spectacle as impressive as possible, on the biggest lens and screen possible.
Talking to IndieWire this week, The Dark Knight filmmaker gave the streaming service some choice words. He sees their acquisition of talent as a tactical ploy to hurt the cinematic industry, a move that he feels passionately about.
Nolan on Netflix: Install a 90-Day Window for Integrity
Seeing the likes of Ojka, War Machine and Death Note avoid the theaters and transition straight to televisions, mobiles and tablets, Nolan argues that their tagline does not speak to reality. As far as he is concerned, they are the aggressors making change when change is not warranted.
“Corporations are able to portray this kind of behavior to Wall Street as ‘disruptive,'” he said. “That kind of became a buzzword a few years ago. So the idea that you’re disrupting the existing distribution mechanism has somehow assigned a kind of futuristic value to something that’s always been about lowest common denominator stuff. If Netflix has made a great film, they should put it in theaters. Why not? Stream it 90 days later.”
This would be the start of his case against the premiere of new movies on the site.
“Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical films. They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation. So they’re not even getting in the game, and I think they’re missing a huge opportunity.
"You can see that Amazon is very clearly happy to not make that same mistake. The theaters have a 90-day window. It’s a perfectly usable model. It’s terrific.”
While there is value to be had on their part, the bypassing of the cinema will erode the industry in the long-term.
“I think the investment that Netflix is putting into interesting filmmakers and interesting projects would be more admirable if it weren’t being used as some kind of bizarre leverage against shutting down theaters. It’s so pointless. I don’t really get it.”
Golden Age of TV All About Perspective
Nolan admits that this fight between studios, consumers and filmmakers is far from a new phenomenon.
“I grew up in the ‘80s, the birth of home video,” he recalled. “Your worst nightmare in the ‘90s as a filmmaker was that the studio would turn around and go, ‘You know what? We’re going to put it on video instead of theaters.’ They did that all the time. There’s nothing new in that.”
With his brother Jonathan helping to produce HBO's Westworld, the 46-year old is adamant that this generation cannot lay claim to being in the "golden age of television" despite their successes.
“Every generation thinks they’re the ones who invented television and that there’s never been any good television before. I think when you look at the different supposed golden eras of television, there is a tendency in the television community or the press around it to eulogize about TV. Film tends not to do that about itself. The film industry tends to not sit around and go, ‘Oh, what we do is so much better than what Howard Hawks was doing in ‘50s or whatever. It’s just a stylistic difference.”
For Nolan, the same was being said when video consoles were bursting through the market.
“Ten years ago I’d get asked a lot of questions about the video game industry,” he said. “Like, is that going to kill movies or whatever? It’s a different thing. Now it’s VR. They’re just different things. I love television. It’s great. I love what my brother’s doing in TV, I love watching him work in that format. It’s just a completely different medium.”
Dunkirk opens this Friday on July 21.