Christopher Nolan on the Danger of Streaming-Only Films Disappearing: “It Will Need to Be Fixed”
The ‘Oppenheimer’ director clarified a previous joke he made about the fear of a project getting removed by an “evil streaming service.”
BY RYAN GAJEWSKI, NOVEMBER 18, 2023
Christopher Nolan is addressing the concern that filmmakers’ projects could vanish if they are removed from streaming platforms and not available to be seen via physical media.
During a conversation with The Washington Post published online Friday, the Oppenheimer director discussed his film’s upcoming home release. Nolan clarified that a comment he made at a recent Oppenheimer screening about the home release being important to prevent an “evil streaming service” from stealing the project from viewers was just a joke, but that he does see a potential danger for movies that only exist on streamers.
“There is a danger these days that if things only exist in the streaming version, they do get taken down,” Nolan told the publication. “They come and go — as do broadcast versions of films, so my films will play on HBO or whatever, they’ll come and go. But the home video version is the thing that can always be there, so people can always access it. And since the 1980s, as filmmakers, we’ve taken that for granted, and now we have to make sure that there’s a way that that can continue to happen, if not the physical media.”
Nolan explained that he doesn’t discourage changes in how people experience movies and said that “the culture of film thrives with new innovations.” But he also knows that “the accessibility of your work” is something that needs to be protected.
“The danger I’m talking about with a filmmaker’s film just sort of disappearing from streaming one day and then maybe not coming back or not coming back for a long period of time, that’s not an intentional conspiracy,” he continued. “That’s just a way that with the particular licensing agreements, the way things are evolving. So it’s something worth pointing out because it will need to be fixed, but I’m very confident that it will be.”
The topic of titles permanently disappearing from streaming services has become a relevant one in recent months. Earlier this year, Disney took a $1.5 billion tax write-down after dropping more than 70 titles from Disney+ and Hulu, while Warner Bros. Discovery has signed licensing deals with free, ad-supported channels for its previously dropped shows, including Westworld, which was co-created by Nolan’s brother Jonathan Nolan.