Christopher Nolan has just started promoting the film “Oppenheimer” again, this time focusing on its physical release. In the process, he joked about the “bad streaming platforms.” In an interview with “The Washington Post,” he admitted, however, that behind the joke lies a genuine concern about the future of cinema.
Streaming platforms. What does Nolan fear?
Christopher Nolan, announcing the Blu-ray release of “Oppenheimer” half-jokingly, half-seriously encouraged fans to buy the film on physical media so that they would have it forever and wouldn’t have to fear that “bad streaming platforms” would steal the project from viewers by removing it from video-on-demand (VOD).
In the interview with “The Washington Post,” the director argued that it was a joke. However, he quickly added that the current licensing policy of streaming platforms is a serious problem for creators and audiences.
“In today’s times, there is a real threat that if something exists only in streaming, it can be removed,” Nolan said. “They come and go, just like TV movie versions. So, my films are shown on HBO or another platform, and they appear and then disappear. But versions on physical media remain; people can always reach for them. And since the ’80s, we filmmakers took it for granted. Now we have to fight for it to continue, even if not in the form of physical media.”
Nolan admits that new technological solutions are developing the culture of consuming cinema. However, he emphasizes that fixes are needed in terms of access to film works.
“The danger I’m talking about is related to the fact that a film may one day disappear from streaming platforms and never return, or it may come back after a very long hiatus. That’s just how the current broadcast licensing law works.”
Nolan believes that this will be fixed soon.
Nolan’s comment describes a phenomenon that not only takes place but is dangerously expanding. Recently, platforms like Max and Disney+ have started removing productions that were exclusively theirs, and fans believed they would always be there (e.g., the series “Willow”). Meanwhile, they disappear because media conglomerates can find savings quickly and easily through this practice.
Another problem is the deletion of completed productions because financially, it is more advantageous for studios to write them off than to present them to the world, whether in theaters or on a platform.