Netflix and Amazon elbow their way to the table
TORONTO — When it comes to choosing film projects, Lily Collins tries to look at the story, not the distribution platform.
“I make stories because I think that they’re going to tell something important and have an open conversation about things,” says the Golden Globe-nominated actress.
And what a conversation her latest film, Netflix’s newly released Okja, has started.
Besides the issues touched on in director/co-writer Bong Joon-ho’s fable of a South Korean girl and her genetically modified pig, the film has also sparked debate about video streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Studios making a bigger push into the film world.
When Okja screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May, it was in competition for the Palme d’Or top prize in a field that also included another Netflix film, The Meyerowitz Stories. It was Netflix’s first time having films in competition at Cannes and some, particularly in the French film community, weren’t happy.
Jury president Pedro Almodovar said he didn’t want the Palme d’Or to go to a movie that wouldn’t be shown theatrically. The festival also changed its rules so that, beginning next year, all competition films must commit to a theatrical release in France.
“I would love to see (Netflix), partner with theatrical, because I think it’s hard to approximate the magic of what it means to go somewhere and ... see something magical on the screen,” says Gabriela Cowperthwaite, director of the new film Megan Leavey.
“That said, I am a huge Netflix fan and I trust them creatively to give me an amazing experience in my home.”
“I think the more opportunities filmmakers have to make their movies, the better; and the more people willing to take risks by giving filmmakers money to make their movies, the better,” says Seth Rogen, whose new series Preacher is into its second season on AMC.
NEW YORK — Rushing to his interview seat, Tom Holland trips but recovers quickly and then plops himself down ready to chat at a Manhattan hotel. It’s a rare misstep — literal or figurative — for the energetic British actor and dancer who is the new Spider-Man.
The 21-year-old successfully introduced himself as the web-slinger in last year’s Captain America: Civil War. Now Holland is the headliner in the much anticipated SpiderMan: Homecoming with a little help from his friend Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man.
The great responsibility is not lost on him.
“I had to remind myself when I first took on this character that Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man had such a huge impact on me as a kid,” says Holland. “I’m going to have that same impact on kids of the younger generation. I really wanted to do them proud and to be a solid role model.”
“That being said, I love going to the movies. I think the shared experience of going to the movies is incredibly important. I don’t think only big, visual effects-driven movies are the types of movies that are important to see in large groups of people.”
Netflix paid a reported US$60 million to acquire the rights to the Brad Pitt-produced political drama War Machine, making it one of the streaming service’s most ambitious projects yet. And its upcoming sci-fi cop thriller Bright, starring Will Smith, has a reported price tag of $90 million.
Topher Grace, who stars alongside Pitt in War Machine, feels Netflix fills a void.
“It’s the kind of film that Hollywood used to be able to make that they’re not able to make anymore and I think everyone is really grateful that there’s a place like Netflix that’s willing to,” says Grace. “...I think actors are all really excited because it’s more good work.”
Netflix is a more contentious platform in the film industry than
In the standalone adventure, teen Peter Parker (Holland) is still excited by his Spider-Man experience with the Avengers defined by the Captain America movie. In the aftermath, he is back at home with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), and resuming life as a nerd high school student.
Under the occasional tutelage of mentor Stark, Parker immerses himself in his Spider-Man role as the friendly neighbourhood crime fighter but soon finds himself confronting the conniving Vulture (Michael Keaton).
Like most of the Marvel movies, humour is mixed with state-ofthe-art special effects action. Unlike the other Spider-Man pictures with Maguire or Andrew Garfield in the leads, the high school backdrop has more play.
“The question that (director) Jon Watts and I asked ourselves is, ‘If you gave a 15-year-old super powers, wouldn’t he have the time of his life?’” says the actor. “When I made this movie, I had the time of my life, so it really comes across on Amazon because it releases movies directly onto its service, which upsets theatre companies. Amazon, by contrast, will release a film in theatres before making it available to its subscribers. Amazon landed a huge hit last year when its acquisition Manchester by the Sea picked up six Oscar nominations and won two awards, including best actor for Casey Affleck.
“They (at Amazon) really, really respect the theatrical release,” says Kumail Nanjiani, star and co-writer of the new film The Big Sick.
“For a movie like ours, which is about community and connecting with people, watching it with a bunch of people who you don’t know is part of the experience. And what Amazon is doing is they’re allowing movies to be made, idiosyncratic point-of-view movies ... and they’re also allowing them to be in the theatres, which is very, very exciting.”
While some theatre chains feel threatened by Netflix’s push into big budget films, Canadian comedy star Dan Aykroyd doesn’t have much sympathy for them, or the big screen.”
That’s thanks mostly to the spunky Holland. He made his London West End debut in Billy Elliot the Musical as Billy’s best friend in the summer of 2008, and a few months later he took over the title part to rave reviews.
In 2013, he co-starred in the Oscarhonoured The Impossible with Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and two years later earned praise for portrayals in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea and BBC’s Wolf Hall series. When it was announced in June of 2015 that Holland would be the new Spidey, it changed everything for him.
“I’ve been so lucky in my career,” he says. “I feel like I’ve been in the right place at the right time in every turn. I’ve got to work with those who I would consider to be the best of the best and learn from all kinds of people.”
That’sespeciallytrueofDowneyJr. who spent extra time with Holland before the Captain America: Civil War shoot and again with SpiderMan: studios upset with the trend.
“Aw, too bad, poor little film industry. Aw, they didn’t see it coming, they didn’t see digital coming, they didn’t see the platform coming. Too bad, sorry,” says Aykroyd, who recently narrated the documentary series The World Without Canada on History.
“Netflix has got all kinds of money, creative people who want to take bold chances and give creators what they need, the resources and the scope that they need to make their shows.”
Aykroyd says the digital revolution is changing things for the better.
“It opens things up and it takes it off the table of the elite seven sisters — (like) Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney. It gives them real challenge and it makes them step up and hopefully get their game up to a better quality and opening up to new talent where they’re not just relying on what they think are sure-things like tentpoles.”
The Canadian Press Homecoming. Their respect and affection for each other shows on screen and off.
“The relationship between the two of us is more interesting from this movie’s point of view because he suddenly has someone to think about other than Tony Stark,” Holland says. “Tony really cares about Peter, and that’s one of the reasons why he doesn’t want Peter to become an Avenger — he doesn’t want the responsibility of something happening to Peter on his conscience.”
On the funny side of the interplay, both characters continue their snappy patter routines. “It’s a fun back and forth just like a big brother/little brother or dad/son type situation,” Holland says.
Whether fans will see them together in other Marvel films is the fodder for speculation both true and false. The twosome do show up next year in the Marvel crossover which features the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy crew in Avengers: Infinity War.
And based on early reviews and box-office predictions, there will be another Spidey extravaganza.
“I’m still getting over the first one,” says the actor of the sequel conjecture. “I haven’t thought about the second one yet.” email@example.com