This year marked some milestones for Netflix and its ever-expanding original content library. In addition to original television series such as Orange is the New Black, Dear White People and Stranger Things, Netflix has branched into the arena of full-length films with Beasts of No Nation, Pee-wee's Big Holiday and upcoming projects such as War Machine and The Outsider.
However, this expansion has not been a welcome change by everyone in the entertainment industry. #Netflix was invited to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and its first full-length offering, Okja, was met with less welcoming arms than the company (and director Bong Joon-ho) would have liked.
What Caused The 'Okja' Negativity?
Sadly for Joon-ho, the negativity surrounding #Okja didn't seem to be about the film itself. Technical glitches resulted in insults and booing. Upon the familiar "Netflix" intro to the film, a number of audience members reportedly began booing right off the bat.
The technical hiccup could have been due to the fact that Netflix typically skips theatrical screenings for its original content. However, it doesn't help that some Cannes participants and critics feel that Netflix (and other streaming platforms) don't belong at major festivals and awards shows. Theater operators in France have even said they wouldn't screen films without proper French theatrical distribution credibility.
Cannes competition-jury president Pedro Almodovar had this to say on the subject, according to the Los Angeles Times:
"The screen for films should not be smaller than the chair on which you're sitting."
Does It Matter Whether Films Are Intended For Big Or Small Screens?
Netflix's Beasts of No Nation was critically acclaimed, especially Idris Elba's performance. And yet, some industry figures were displeased with its Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. There has been similar quiet pushback against the inclusion of Netflix, #Hulu and Amazon original series being nominated for (and winning) Golden Globes and Emmys.
I think the simple fact is that a lot of studios feel threatened by streaming platforms. Not only have these platforms proven to be the perfect stage for uncensored and sophisticated content, but they have attracted audiences ranging from horror, to sci-fi, to drama, to Marvel superheroes. After all, when you have award-winning actors joining Netflix original films (such as Jared Leto in The Outsider and Brad Pitt in War Machine), and shows like Transparent sweeping the Emmys every year, it's hard to continue to dismiss them as nothing more than cheap internet content.
Streaming platforms have demonstrated they have more than enough credibility to be included in awards shows and film festivals. Similar to other industries that have evolved (or eventually fizzled out), the nature of the film industry is changing — and the change is coming quickly. Studios, festivals and awards shows can either jump on board and accept the evolution, or they can be left behind. The booing at Cannes may be proof that not everyone is on board just yet, but hopefully this is a trend that will continue to die down.
Streaming platforms are here to stay, people. We might as well keep up with what they're releasing and root for our favorites when they deserve the praise.
Do you consider a film to be more authentic if it's originally made for theaters, or is it all the same to you? Tell me why in the comments below!
(Source: L.A. Times)