Even before COVID, there was a shift in how people watch movies. While some filmmakers can't stomach the thought of people watching their work on a TV, tablet, or phone, that's the way things are going thanks to the rise of countless streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video.
Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo are no strangers to box office success, as the Infinity Saga finale was the biggest theatrical release of all time (before Avatar was re-released).
The duo helmed Cherry for Apple TV+ and are currently doing the rounds to promote the most expensive Netflix blockbuster ever made, The Gray Man. Talking to The Hollywood Reporter, Joe and Anthony shared their thoughts on how the theatrical landscape has changed post-pandemic and why they're not among those who view theaters as the be-all and end-all of the moviegoing experience.
"We love everything about classic cinema, but we’ve never been precious about that in any way, shape, or form," Anthony tells the trade. "What has always excited us most is [the question], how do you move it forward? This is part of our philosophy in terms of not being precious about theatrical distribution."
Joe would go on to point out that Extraction being viewed on Netflix 100 million times is equivalent to a $2 billion box office haul, and dismissed the notion of "auteur filmmaking."
"Auteur filmmaking is 50 years old at this point. It was conceived in the ’70s. We grew up on that. We were kids, it was really important to us. But we’re also aware that the world needs to change and the more that we try to prevent it from changing the more chaos we create," the director says. "It’s not anyone’s place to reject the next generation’s ideas."
"A thing to remember, too, is it’s an elitist notion to be able to go to a theater. It’s very f***ing expensive," Joe adds. "So, this idea that was created - that we hang on to - that the theater is a sacred space, is bullshit."
Not everyone will agree with these comments, but nothing Joe and Anthony say here is incorrect. The average price for a single movie ticket is nearly the same as a monthly subscription to Netflix, so it's no wonder families are looking to stay at home to watch the latest releases.
Yes, seeing a blockbuster on the big screen is a special experience in a lot of ways, but as the pandemic proved, it's not the only way to watch movies like Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow.