Dame Helen Mirren has said the rise of watching films on streaming services at home is “devastating” for people who want to make films for the big screen.
“It’s devastating for people like my husband, film directors, because they want their movies to be watched in a cinema with a group of people,” the actress told Total Film magazine.
Dame Helen, 72, is married to Taylor Hackford, director of 2004 biopic Ray.
She said the “communal” experience of cinema is in danger of dying out.
“An audience, a movie, and you’re all in it together,” she said. “You’re frightened, you laugh, you cry all together. So it’s a communal thing. And that’s beginning to disappear.”
The Oscar winner’s comments continue a debate about services like Netflix, which has bought films like Annihilation and Mudbound for its own subscribers.
Its business model generally bypasses cinemas – a fact that has unsettled many in the film industry.
Netflix films have been banned from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which has introduced a rule saying all films in competition must have a cinema release.
Streaming services may be able to offer fans advantages in terms of price, selection and home comforts – but the attraction of the cinema doesn’t seem to be waning.
Last year, UK cinemagoers spent a record £1.38bn on tickets, up 6.1% on the previous year.
Cinemas v streaming – which is best?
We put Dame Helen’s comments to our Facebook group. Here’s a sample of what people said:
- “I love the cinema experience but it’s so expensive that I only go to see a movie I’ve been waiting ages for (next trip is Avengers: Infinity War!). With Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions there are so many movies I can watch at home in the comfort of my living room and movies tend to come out faster for streaming than they used to on DVD.” Rosie Smith
- “I love seeing great films on huge screens in the dark in comfy seats and with treats to eat. However, my husband will no longer go any more because of the cost and the fact he can now download for free so feels there’s no need nor justification to go.” Claire Stokes
- “I love going to the cinema, as nothing compares to being completely enveloped in that room with that sound and vision! Yes the price has risen a lot but where hasn’t it these days? If you’re watchful you can get two for the price of one or become a member for reduced prices. Compared to the cost of a meal out or the price of a few drinks, it’s much less expensive.” Louise Prior
- “The cinema has become so expensive, so I’ll only go a few times a year. Love the experience, but will only go for films I am dying to see and have been waiting to come out. Otherwise I feel these films do come to Sky or online pretty quickly, so I’m happy to wait.” Eve St Claire
- “I love the cinema and my hubby and I would like to make it a weekly treat. However the cost means we wait until a film we desperately want to see comes out rather than seeing less exciting films. With travel and ticket price a cinema trip has become a luxury and not a regular outing.” Bbev Hall Palfreyman
- “I still go regularly. I like being at the cinema but also like having a closer look at the production, maybe because I also enjoy the theatre. Film is definitely a big screen medium and it’s a shame to see the works ignored at the cinema. Lots of times I have seen only three or four people at a screening for something that was really good and that a lot of effort had gone into.” Alex Pinfold
Join the conversation on our Facebook group. It’s a place to chat about everything we’re watching at the moment, as well as discuss the big issues in the entertainment world.