From his early days making avant-garde theater with the Wooster Group to his decades of collaborations with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Robert Eggers, and Yorgos Lanthimos, Willem Dafoe has always been a passionate advocate for boundary-pushing art. And while he’s currently picking up Oscar buzz for his role as Dr. Frankenstein stand-in Godwin Baxter in “Poor Things,” the thespian has concerns about the distribution options for challenging cinema.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dafoe criticized streaming services for incentivizing viewers to choose simpler entertainment options that don’t require their full attention. The actor said that more complicated movies thrive in theaters, where they require a time investment that prevents audiences from multi-tasking or abandoning unfinished films.

“The kind of attention that people give at home isn’t the same,” Dafoe said. “More difficult movies, more challenging movies can not do as well when you don’t have an audience that’s really paying attention. That’s a big thing. I miss the social thing of where movies fit in the world. You go see a movie, you go out to dinner, you talk about it later, and that spreads out. People now go home, they say, ‘Hey, honey, let’s watch something stupid tonight,’ and they flip through and they watch five minutes of 10 movies, and they say, ‘Forget it, let’s go to bed.’ Where’s that discourse found?”

Dafoe went on to criticize current Hollywood business models, explaining that he thinks the industry’s reliance on streaming and pre-existing IP forces artists into boxes in which they’re destined to fail.

“They aren’t making movies the same way they used to,” he said before appearing to take a shot at “Barbie,” which served as Mattel’s entry into film production. “They’re being financed by toy companies and other entities, and they become the vehicle to make the movies, because they know how to do that. Streaming, they’re becoming like a monopoly, they have the means of production and distribution. And so it’s very complicated.”

Leave a comment