Patty Jenkins Misses the Movie Theater and Has Something to Say About the Day-and-Date Release Strategy
Patty Jenkins has been featured in countless headlines over the past few years. From smashing records with 2017’s Wonder Woman to securing the director’s chair for the upcoming Rogue Squadron, we’ve been on a wild ride watching her success blossom. But, in Hollywood (and elsewhere) the knives are always one wrong word from coming out. Recently, news broke that Patty Jenkins was among those with a big problem watching the day-and-date release strategy of new movies. Is she a hater of streaming services or is she adding some insightful points to the conversation?
The Day-And-Date Release Strategy Is A Problem For Patty Jenkins
Patty Jenkins is a veteran director, even though her recent jump in name recognition might make us think otherwise. Her first feature film, Monster, brought home the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Charlize Theron’s role as Aileen Wuornos) after all. But directing a big-budget superhero film will catapult you to even bigger levels of success. Like Richard Donner, her name could be immortalized for generations of kids looking for superhero stories. And with that success comes criticism or praise to the comments you make, especially when they’re on such a hot topic like the streaming wars.
The director spoke with the Los Angeles Times during CinemaCon about her thoughts surrounding the day-and-date release strategy model (when films drop on streaming services on the same day that they premiere in theaters) and other important topics related to streaming and the movie theater experience. Some of her opinions are very pro-theater, but that doesn’t mean that she has to dismiss the magic of some online platforms.
Image via Gage Skidmore on Flickr.
Does Jenkins Agree With Streaming At All?
Day-and-date streaming wasn’t very popular as recently as two years ago, and the threat of worldwide theater closures led to a rise in the strategy. Though, the move to streaming wasn’t directly tied to the pandemic. We have already been inching closer to putting everything online right away, and coronavirus simply gave the streaming wars a push to get it done faster, which Jenkins recognizes.
But there are plenty of benefits to staying home and watching a film from the comfort of your couch. One of Jenkins’s biggest issues with the opposite (theaters) has continued to be a lack of diversity. Not just in the types of people being shown on screen (and working behind those all-important cameras) but just a mix of different options to watch. “You can have six theaters in town… and they’re all playing the same three movies,” she shares. Where do you go when you’ve already watched all three? Straight to Netflix.
The rise of streaming and at-home premieres has also shown the industry that people want to see things other than superhero movies, like dramas and documentaries.
Are some genres better for at-home streaming? Image via Netflix
Patty Jenkins Still Thinks That Theater Exclusive Premieres Are Preferable To Day-And-Date Releases
Most of us remember our experience of watching Wonder Woman 1984. Rather than flocking to busy theaters like with the first film, we snuggled up in our beds and watched it for free (or, if you’re like me, for $30 because Canada still doesn’t have HBO Max.) While this was a safe choice for consumers due to the very high COVID-19 cases, it wasn’t necessarily a happy decision for the people making it.
Jenkins agrees that while the day-and-date model worked for HBO Max and WW198, considering it was their only real choice, it was still a “heartbreaking experience” and “hugely detrimental” to the movie. Clearly, the box office impacts were the loudest. The film pulled a worldwide total of $166.5 million, compared to the $822.8 million that the first film made. But what about the detrimental aspects aside from lining the pockets of the producers? “I don’t think it plays the same on streaming ever,” she explains. And she has a point. Watching expensive action sequences and flashy character introductions demands more than my very old iPad screen or my living room TV with mediocre speakers. They could benefit from the big screen and the atmosphere of fans watching comic books come to life.
Image via Warner Bros.
But All Things Leave Movie Theaters Eventually, Right?
One of the biggest issues with Patty Jenkins’s comments, aside from the fact that Wonder Woman 1984 wasn’t a critical success, is that we all have to watch things on streaming platforms eventually. If you missed a film’s initial release, does that mean that you’ll never get the full experience? That’s simply not true. Even if you missed the explosively thrilling premiere of Avengers: Endgame, you could still enjoy it to the fullest potential if you watch it on Disney+ a decade later. Sure, some of the feelings might not be the same. But if a movie is only good because you’re watching it in a movie theater, then it can’t be that good. Right?
Fortunately, Jenkins knows that this is something to consider. “I make movies for the big screen. I’m OK with people watching it for a second or third time on their phone, but I’m not making it for that experience,” she explains. But if a movie looks good on all platforms, it increases the number of people who get to watch it. Boosting accessibility broadens your audience and treats every movie lover with respect regardless of their preferred way to watch.
Image via Marvel Studios
The Conversation On Straight-To-Streaming Services Get Messy
We agree that movies can be better in cinemas, but that there are pros and cons to both ways of watching. But it seems like Jenkins has a general disregard for anything that doesn’t hit a cinema. She explains that the straight-to-streaming movies look like “fake movies” to her and that she never hears about them or reads about them. Oh, and it can’t establish “legendary greatness.”
Those are some harsh words for someone who has a big deal with Netflix. Two years ago, she earned a $10 million deal with the platform, showing that she has room for collaboration with the thing that prevents legendary greatness. But according to her, this is all because she believes in “limited series and television series.”
Is this not greatness? Image via Netflix
What Is Her Solution?
So, where do we go in a world that has already established a love for streaming films? Like other directors who have come before her, Jenkins is adamant that we keep the movie exclusivity alive. She says that filmmakers need to be “very clear about the absolute necessity for it” and that there needs to be a unified reaction to change. The system will need to “aggressively work” to keep the industry alive and booming for the people with overpriced popcorn in their hands, and that the day-and-date model can’t be treated like a “foregone conclusion.”
But it’s not just filmmakers who have the power to make a change, apparently. Jenkins adds that if a streamer makes a “huge commitment to the theatrical experience” and plants “the flag” of this model, then they’ll be set up to work with the so-called legendary greatness referred to earlier.
We Don’t Hate The Day-And-Date Model As Much As Patty Jenkins, But We Do Love The Theater
Some people love watching things with unlimited food options and no exclusions on pausing for bathroom breaks. Others love the buzz that comes from watching movie trailers in a room packed with people, all anticipating the next big blockbuster. And for most of us, we can deal with either option depending on the circumstance. We need options, and streaming services want to give them to us.
It’s curious to watch Jenkins knock streaming services while simultaneously taking part in creating new content. Some of us probably only watched her own film, WW1984, because it was so easily accessible. We want to keep the magic of movies alive, but that doesn’t mean we need to kill the comfort of home-viewing.
Readers, we want to hear your opinions. Do you agree with Patty Jenkins about the day-and-date release model for films? Or are you hoping that it’s a strategy that sticks long after the pandemic has ended? Drop your thoughts in the comments!
Featured image via Warner Bros.
Meghan Hale is the kind of movie lover that has a "must watch" that is a mile long... and growing. When she isn't talking about the latest film and television news she is writing one of her many in-process novels, screaming film trivia at anybody who will listen, and working as a mental health care professional. Follow her on Twitter @meghanrhale for some fun theories and live reactions to all things entertainment.