Christopher Nolan Shares Fears About Streaming-Only Movies


  • Christopher Nolan expresses concern about the risk of streaming-only films being taken down and potentially not returning for a long time, jeopardizing a filmmaker’s work and accessibility.
  • Streaming services like Netflix offer opportunities for exclusive films, but also pose a danger of films disappearing if they are only available in the streaming version.
  • Recent examples show that Nolan’s worries about films being pulled from streaming platforms are not baseless, indicating a real risk to filmmakers who rely on these platforms for exposure.



Director Christopher Nolan voices his concerns about the “danger” of films that release directly to streaming. Known for his mind-bending films that regularly employ time as a thematic device, Nolan has had huge success this year with his biopic Oppenheimer. Released in theaters in July, Oppenheimer had a strong theatrical run, making nearly $1 billion at the worldwide box office.

Nolan has concerns about the fate of streaming-only movies revealed in an interview with The Washington Post. In the absence of physical media, Nolan expressed his worries about when “things only exist in the streaming version” and then “get taken down.” He believes that “the accessibility of [filmmakers’] work” is something that deserves the utmost protection, but is something at severe risk when there is a risk of “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.” Check out the full quote from Nolan below:

There is a danger these days that if things only exist in the streaming version, they do get taken down. 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.

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. 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.

How Present Is This “Danger” For Streaming Films?

Joey King in The Princess movie

With Nolan potentially returning to work for Warner Bros, he conceptualizes streaming services as the double-edged sword that it is. On the one hand, streaming giants like Netflix allow films to be made as streaming exclusives that preclude the need for a theatrical time slot in a competitive market. On the other hand, there is a danger” in eschewing physical or rental copies for streaming-only, in that it leaves these films in a precarious position should streamers decide to rid themselves of the titles.

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In reality, what Nolan fears is happening on streaming services is indeed happening. Just recently, filmmakers behind an underseen fantasy epic called The Princess rejoiced as their Hulu film became re-available for VOD rental after Hulu yanking the film this past May made the work effectively disappear for six months. Other platforms, including Disney+, have been pulling underperforming original titles in droves to clear the way for newer works.

Looking at these examples, it is clear that Nolan’s anxieties on behalf of streaming-only filmmakers is not unfounded fear-mongering, but tangible consequences of an ongoing trend. Streaming is an incredibly effective tool for innovation and opportunity, but one that clearly comes at great risk to creators who rely on those platforms for exposure. With streaming services still relatively nascent in the great scheme of cinema history, hopefully, this issue can be amended as Neftlix, Disney+, Prime Video, and more continue their media reign.

Source: The Washington Post


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