It’s true what they say, some battles really do end with a whimper rather than a bang.
And, for Netflix, the streaming giant that’s built its brand around equity of access to film and television (including, but not limited to, ‘Fuller House’), the cultural giant may very well have delivered a silent-but-deadly blow that all but guarantees supremacy in its fight against those who have taken the side of The Sanctity of the Cinemagoing Experience (tm).
Sure, there’s the recent Department of Justice warning that any changes to Oscar admissibility rules could be anti-competitive.
On face value, that argument could appear more in favour of independent filmmakers who can’t afford to screen films in cinemas for more than a week or two than a cultural monolith that’s spending the equivalent of some small nations’ economies of film and television output. After all, if you’re plugging somewhere between eight and thirteen billion dollars into original content, you could probably spare a few singles for the equivalent of a cinematic reacharound to satisfy those pesky award criteria.
No, this was an announcement so subtle, so below-the-radar that it barely even caused a ripple on Film Twitter (c) (tm). You know things have flown under the radar when Film Twitter (c) (tm) doesn’t get angry. I mean, this is a group of twitterati so easily angered that they’ll generate a thousand think pieces when a director farts too loudly or dares to suggest they’d rather work on something that isn’t a Star War or a comic book movie.
Yet, in the ongoing chess game between Netflix and The Sanctity of the Cinemagoing Experience (tm), it’s a move of such devastating symbolism it may very well have sunk Sanctity’s battleship.
So, what is this shocking, yet largely missed, announcement?
A Quentin Tarantino movie is coming to Netflix. Not just any Quentin Tarantino movie - his eighth film - and not just his eighth film. The version of his eighth film that was only ever meant to be seen in cinemas in glorious 70mm (unless of course you live in LA and he had decided to screen his personal 35mm print at his New Beverly Cinema). The Roadshow Edition of The Hateful Eight was never meant to be seen on a screen smaller than a cinema screen, in a venue smaller than a cinema.
In fact, Tarantino was such a believer in The Sanctity of the Cinemagoing Experience (tm) that he even demanded cinemas showing the Roadshow Edition of The Hateful Eight install special projectors to screen his magnum opus with all the Sanctity it deserved.
Not only that, he went to great pains to explain that it was a cut meant for cinemas. It had an intermission, it had an overture.
As he explained to Variety, he had cinemagoers specifically in mind for that cut.
“It was awesome in the bigness of 70 but sitting on your couch maybe it’s not so awesome,” he explained in an interview that - like your average Film Twitter (c) (tm) tweet - did not age so well.
Now Netflix can experience the maybe not so awesome from their couch, iPad and iPhone. The symbolism is huge. A cinema experience designed especially for cinemas is now available on this era’s answer to home video. It’s the ultimate “Fuck You” to Sanctity and another sign of Netflix’s cultural dominance. Because 70mm sure don’t look like 70mm on a TV screen. Or an iPad. Or a smartphone.
Although the intermission will no doubt just feel like an extreme case of buffering.... an experience no cinema could ever replicate. So, maybe The Sanctity of The Cinemagoing Experience (tm) is dead. I guess that means the new king is The Sanctity of The Couch?
Anotherfilmnerd's earliest cinematic memory was seeing Don Johnson throw up all over a suspect in John Frankenheimer's 'Dead Bang'. Ever since, he's devoted his life to searching out cinema that's weird, wonderful and features vomit in the most unlikely of places.