Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan is the latest high-profile director to criticize the Netflix model, describing it as "mindless". What's more, he's revealed that he prefers Blu-ray to Netflix when he's watching movies at home.
In an interview with IndieWire he said: “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.”
As a filmmaker who creates consummately theatrical films, he is understandably invested in the theatrical release model. He drew a direct comparison with Netflix rival Amazon, highlighting that a streaming service doesn’t necessarily have to be at odds with theatrical distribution.
“You can see that Amazon is very clearly happy to not make that same mistake,” he said. “The theaters have a 90-day window. It’s a perfectly usable model. It’s terrific.”
The director isn’t the first to side with theatrical presentation over Netflix. At the Cannes film festival in May, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar got into a heated debate with Will Smith over Netflix having films nominated for the Palme D’or prize saying, “The size of the screen should not be smaller than the chair you’re sitting on, you must be feel small and humble in front of the image.”
Digital distribution is obviously a threat to the theatre-release model, but hearing that Nolan chooses not to watch Netflix at home has us asking further questions. Speaking to Deadline after a screening of his WWI epic, Nolan admitted that he "rarely" uses Netflix, favoring Blu-ray.
Is it a case of the higher audio visual quality that you get from watching an Ultra HD Blu-ray? Or is it perhaps just a reflection of his stance on Netflix that's driven him towards this decision?
While the number of 4K titles available on Netflix is still fairly limited, and access to the service is dependant on the bandwidth of the user, these limitations don't seem to be slowing down its progress. It recently announced that it has over 100 million subscribers.
It will be interesting to see whether Blu-ray becomes a vinyl-like market, with a small pool of devoted purists still using the format, with a larger pool choosing the easier, while arguably worse-quality, streaming option.
- If you agree with Nolan check out our best 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray movies
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Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.