Director Steven Soderbergh has weighed in with his views on the recent Warner Bros shockwave decision to release its 2021 on streaming too.
Veteran filmmaker Steven Soderbergh knows a thing or two about the virtues of bold decision-making when it comes to filmmaking. After all, as both a producer and director who has shot films completely on iPhones or improvised entire movies without scripts, Soderbergh has never shied away from novel ideas and has met the economics of movie-making unflinchingly in the latest part of his career, finding creatively financial ways to get films made.
When asked then by The Daily Beast (via Collider) for his take on the decision of Warner Bros to release its entire 2021 theatrical slate on the streaming platform HBO Max, alongside a cinema release, the filmmaker’s thinking was predictably frank and certainly less downbeat than others who have voiced opinions.
Says Soderbergh “[the streaming push is] just a reaction to an economic reality that I think everybody is going to have to acknowledge pretty soon, which is that even with a vaccine, the theatrical movie business won’t be robust enough in 2021 to justify the amount of P&A you need to spend to put a movie into wide release. There’s no scenario in which a theatre that is 50 percent full, or at least can’t be made 100 percent full, is a viable paradigm to put out a movie in. But that will change. We will reach a point where anybody who wants to go to a movie will feel safe going to a movie.”
It’s not all bad news for cinemas though, as the filmmaker outlined why in his eyes, the theatrical model is going nowhere. “Let’s be clear: there is no bonanza in the entertainment industry that is the equivalent of a movie that grosses a billion dollars or more theatrically. That is the holy grail. So the theatrical business is not going away. There are too many companies that have invested too much money in the prospect of putting out a movie that blows up in theatres – there’s nothing like it. It’s all going to come back. But I think Warners is saying: not as soon as you think”.
Finally, on the cusp of releasing his next film straight onto the HBO Max streaming platform, Soderbergh discussed whether he thought cinemas were still the right fit for mid-budget flicks like his next, Let Them All Talk, starring Meryl Streep.
Again, the filmmaker seems relaxed about the prospect, arguing that the death of the mid-sized movie may have been greatly exaggerated: “The other thing is, every time we think that it’s just going to be tentpoles and blockbusters – and art-house movies on the other end – something shows up in the middle and works. Downton Abbey made a lot of money. That movie was coming out when we were in discussions with Warners about Let Them All Talk, and I pointed to that as an example of what I consider to be our audience. That’s our demographic; that’s the audience I want. And look, they showed up for that.”
Smart points from a smart man. We’ll continue to bring you thoughts and developments from the seismic Warner’s/HBO Max agreement as it happens, including this piece here.
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