WarnerMedia screwed up big time by announcing they were closing down FilmStruck. While it was a niche site, it’s an important niche, and to be blunt, niches is where the streaming landscape is headed. Not every streaming site is going to be operating at the level of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. There are going to be corners of content that are underserved, and there’s money to be made in appealing to that audience. No one is offering the depth and curation of classic movies like FilmStruck, and that’s a devoted audience even if it’s nowhere near the subscriber base of something like Netflix.
Now filmmakers are rallying to try and save FilmStruck. Deadline reports that in addition to giants like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese rallying to the streaming service’s cause, a group of filmmakers have reached out to WarnerMedia to voice their support. Here’s the e-mail [via Deadline]:
To: Toby Emmerich
We know that Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have been in touch with you and Warners Media Group about the demise of FilmStruck and have urged you guys to keep it going.
While it was not your decision, we would like to loudly echo their sentiments. The FilmStruck service was (IS) the best streaming service for fans of cinema of all kinds: classic studio movies, independent cinema, international treasures. Without it, the landscape for film fans and students of cinema is especially bleak. There’s a reason there was a huge outpouring from artists and fans over it being shuttered, they were doing the Movie God’s work.
We know one of the reasons that it has been shut down is because of an upcoming Warners streaming service, but really FilmStruck shouldn’t be a conflict of interest. In this day and age where there are dozens of platforms, curation of content is really important and FilmStruck was providing a service to both satisfy older fans of cinema and a younger generation of cineastes that will be making amazing movies long after we’re dead.
In an era of huge corporate acquisitions of cinema by communication companies- in a business that may render billions of dollars off a medium like cinema, we believe this is a gesture that is needed- a minuscule show of goodwill towards the preservation and accesibility of a tradition and a rich history that would benefit the public.
So we want to add our names to the petition started by Marty and Steven and want you (and Warners) to know that we feel equally strongly and would do anything to support the service being saved.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Ana Lily Amirpour
Guillermo Del Toro
Alejandro González Iñárritu
Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas
Then came another letter form another group of filmmakers:
To whom it may concern at Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks:
Roger Ebert once said “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”
No truer words.
Though we live in a world with increasing ways to view content, the range of content and the variety of storytellers has remained, sadly, limited.
In its short two years of existence FilmStruck was a machine that generated empathy by curating not only classic Hollywood films, but by streaming and highlighting world cinema, cinema by female, traditionally disenfranchised, and LGBT filmmakers and storytellers. FilmStruck added a depth, breadth and richness to the viewing experience that had not previously been attempted, and may – fearfully – disappear permanently with FilmStruck’s demise.
We the undersigned respectfully ask Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks to please reconsider their plans for FilmStruck. While we understand that “business” has always been a part of “show business,” we would hope that if FilmStruck cannot be continued in its present form, it would be allowed to function until such a time as a suitable, and suitably robust, replacement can be launched.
We hope that Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks will pause to recognize what an extraordinary accomplishment FilmStruck is. Equally, we hope the powers that be will consider maintaining what has become a significant film site for true enthusiasts of the moving image.
So Yong Kim
Malcolm D Lee
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Sam Taylor Johnson
Will this work? I’m skeptical. At the end of the day, WarnerMedia is looking at things not from an artistic perspective or even keeping talent happy. They’re looking at the bottom line, and they think it would be better to vacuum up the content they’ve put on FilmStruck and probably place it on WarnerMedia’s upcoming streaming service. Unfortunately, that will lose the curation and the specificity that FilmStruck provides. It’s a bad move by WarnerMedia, but I’m glad that filmmakers are doing the right thing by voicing their support for FilmStruck.