The online entertainment company, which boastings 125 million subscribers, has become so powerful it can even afforded to snub Cannes. Are cinephiles and conventional broadcasters right to fear for the future?
At the Berlin film festival last February, Clare Binns took her seat for the premiere of a Spanish film that was generating a quiet buzz. She hoped it might play at Picturehouse Cinemas, the British chain of cinemas she runs. In the film, La Enfermedad del Domingo( Sunday's Illness ), an abandoned daughter confronts her well-to-do mother in a remote mountain village. The film's director, Ramon Salazar, has a knack for epic melodrama that has drawn comparisons with the work of Pedro Almodovar.
” It was a fantastic cinema, and one that is made to be seen in cinema ,” says Binns.” But it was only when I was sitting there watching it that I noticed the logo .”
Alongside the name of the film's Spanish production company, there rose the ubiquitous- and increasingly divisive- mark of Netflix. The streaming giant, which this week announced it has more than 125 million global subscribers, had financed the cinema. Binns immediately knew this drastically reduced her chances of getting anywhere near it.” We went straight to the producer to try to work out a style- in Spain, they are doing a theatrical release- but Netflix didn't want to do anything else ,” she adds.
Instead, Netflix will add La Enfermedad del Domingo to its dizzying carousel of content in June, whereusers may enjoy it at home.” I don't object to Netflix as a business ,” says Binns, who is a subscriber herself.” But for a film like that to show just on a platform and not the big screen is just so depressing. It's a disgrace .”
Binns' impressions echo an epic scuffle in the global cinema and Tv industries. Last week, a spat between Netflix and the European cinema establishment erupted a month before the Cannes film festival. The company, which declined to answer questions, only occasionally depicts its movies in handfuls of cinemas, partly to induce them eligible for awardings. Even then, the cinemas are made available for home viewing at the same time, a sacrilege in the world of cinema. Now the industry dreads for the future of a business model- and an art form.
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