As mentioned last week in the post about Ben Affleck’s glow-up in progress, he’s been getting ready for the Triple Frontier premiere (available on Netflix this week) which happened in New York last night after the junket. Lindsay Shookus was seen leaving the junket and also at his apartment. It was a working weekend for her too as there was a new episode of Saturday Night Live this week. On Sunday though, Lindsay joined Ben for the premiere. They’ve yet to walk a red carpet together but, then again, we are in the early days of their reconciliation. Perhaps by the time of the premiere of his next project we’ll finally see that shot. At this point, we can say it’s official, right? Ben and Lindsay are officially back together. And after all they’ve been through, maybe this time it’s the real deal?
Ben’s next project, by the way, will likely be another Netflix feature, The Last Thing He Wanted, directed by Dee Rees, based on Joan Didion’s book, about a journalist, played by Anne Hathaway, who ends up succeeding her father as an arms dealer. That’s two in a row for Ben and Netflix. Last week, when he was seen in that smart camel coat, he bumped into Scott Stuber, currently the head of Netflix’s film division. Back in December, The New York Times called Scott Stuber “one of the most important – and disruptive – people in the film business”.This was before the Oscars and it’s even more relevant now, after the Oscars, with the news the other day that Steven Spielberg is proposing changes to Oscar eligibility, presumably aimed directly at Netflix, which kicked off an online debate among film nerds all weekend. As I wrote last week in my post about Roma not winning Oscar Best Picture, Scott Stuber and Netflix’s next big Oscar hope is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman starring Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. I mean, I get it that Spielberg is all kinds of protective about the theatrical experience, but what’s he doing to address the fact that a Martin Scorsese gangster movie starring his all-star gangster movie cast isn’t getting made through the traditional studio system?!
He can bitch all he wants about Netflix’s encroachment but the fact is, the talent is going to Netflix. And it’s talent across the board. It’s the Dee Reeses and the Martin Scorseses. And Ben Affleck, who’s been a Warner Bros boy for years, also seems to be establishing a relationship with Netflix. And filmmakers who were not given a chance by the big studio system. This is not a movement that can be reversed. Here’s Netflix’s response:
We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) March 4, 2019
-Access for people who can't always afford, or live in towns without, theaters
-Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time
-Giving filmmakers more ways to share art
These things are not mutually exclusive.
There are many people who agree with Spielberg about the value of the theatrical experience. There are just as many people though who are tired of the gatekeepers of the theatrical experience dictating what gets to be in theatres. Like Ava DuVernay:
Dear @TheAcademy, This is a Board of Governors meeting. And regular branch members can’t be there. But I hope if this is true, that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently. Thanks, Ava DuVernay. https://t.co/DFBLVWhiJj— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 1, 2019
One of the things I value about Netflix is that it distributes black work far/wide. 190 countries will get WHEN THEY SEE US. Here’s a promo for South Africa. I’ve had just one film distributed wide internationally. Not SELMA. Not WRINKLE. It was 13TH. By Netflix. That matters. https://t.co/lpn1FFSfgG— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 3, 2019
So, the simple answer is yes, of course, we should continue to encourage people to go to the movies when they can, to see films in theatres for complete cinematic immersion. But at the same time, a concurrent conversation should be happening, with participation from people like Steven Spielberg, about how the studio system could do more to promote a much more diverse stories and storyteller offering at the cinema. I mean if even Martin Scorsese is relying on Netflix to get his movies made, doesn’t that tell you something!?!