Speaking at the Producers Guild of America's LA Produced By Conference, Jerry Seinfeld and Netflix's Chef Content Officer Ted Sarandos discussed how the streaming network has changed pretty much everything about the way we consume television and film. Jerry Seinfeld, whose life has been defined by a network television sitcom started an interview show on Sony's Crackle network was the interviewer for Sarandos. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee will be moving over to Netflix in it's 10th season.
Sarandos who in the 1980's managed eight "Arizona Video Cassettes West" video stores has taken Netflix away from the old model of network TV programming. Since Netflix is available the world over - they don't have to worry about hitting those wide demographics that standard television has to. Which means that movies like the odd but amazing Okja or the fantastically weird looking Bright can actually happen.
Netflix doesn't have to worry about opening weekends. So often great movies are lost to the blockbuster that they're competing against. If a film doesn't open in the top five then it's often pulled from the theaters - or doesn't get the distribution throughout the country that it needs to get the proper buzz. On streaming it doesn't matter if they melt the servers the first night, Netflix's shows can have a viral slow burn. Also, you don't need to care about what China says. Sarandos said to the crowd at Fox’s Zanuck Theatre “That narrows what it can be about, and limits what you can do.” Netflix isn't available in China due to censors, censors that have caused many big films to be either changed or banned from the country.
Jerry Seinfeld told the crowd of getting notes for his show from 70 people when he was working on Seinfeld - with streaming that's not a problem. Sarandos said, to an applause, “Our art is picking the right stories and storytellers, and giving them the environment to do their best work.”
You can read more on the discussion and the rest of the ways Netflix has changed the game over at Indiewire.com. This is a discussion that won't likely end anytime soon with writers and directors taking sides. Dunkirk's Christopher Nolan recently spoke out on Netflix with Indiewire saying "Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical film. They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation. So they’re not even getting in the game, and I think they’re missing a huge opportunity."
He's not the only member of the would of filmmaking to have a problem with the streaming service, evidenced by the recent issues at Cannes Film Festival. Cannes has now required all films that are entered to have a theatrical run in France. They released this statement: "Consequently, and after consulting its members of the board, the Festival de Cannes has decided to adapt its rules to this unseen situation until now: any film that wishes to compete in competition at Cannes will have to commit itself to being distributed in French movie theaters. This new measure will apply from the 2018 edition of the Festival International du Film de Cannes onwards.