Russo Bros. Say "It’s an Elitist Notion to Be Able to Go to a Theater"

'The Gray Man'Credit: Netflix
What are the Russo Brothers doing differently with The Gray Man

Since Anthony and Joe Russo have taken on the world of Marvel, they've spent their years afterward working on personal projects and actively changing their perceptions of what "cinema" even means anymore. Currently, the Russo brothers have a movie called The Gray Man coming out on July 22 on Netflix. It will have played in theaters roughly a month before hitting the streamer.

This is very different than the event films they did for Marvel, which totally revolved around when they hit the big screen. 

"The Theater Is a 'Sacred Space' Is Bullshit"

Having both perspectives has put the brothers at the center of what they call a “crisis” Hollywood faces because of a “culture war” on how films are made and released. It seems like everyone has a side they're on—the core of it is streaming versus theatrical

The Russos are walking the line when it comes to the debate. They see merit on both sides, from the increased diversity and audiences in streaming to the grandeur of the big screen. Recently, they sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the future of cinema. 

Joe Russo said, “It’s sad to see, as guys who grew up loving film. A thing to remember, too, is it’s an elitist notion to be able to go to a theater. It’s very fucking expensive. So, this idea that was created—that we hang on to—that the theater is a 'sacred space,' is bullshit. And it rejects the idea of allowing everyone in under the tent.”

This stance definitely ruffled feathers on social media, but it's not like they don't have a reason for the stance. 

Joe Russo continued, “Where digital distribution is valuable, other than what I said earlier about how it pushed diversity, is that people can share accounts. They can get 40 stories for the cost of one story. But having some kind of culture war about whether there’s value in that or not is fucking bananas to us.”

'The Gray Man'Credit: Netflix
So what is the future? As many have predicted, theaters seem to be a place for big, tentpole movies. They're community houses of worship. But lately, people have been going to services at home. And when it comes to the world, streaming can just reach further and further. If you have a TV and wifi, you can be connected. 

Auteur filmmaking is 50 years old at this point. It was conceived in the ’70s,” said Joe Russo. “We grew up on that. We were kids, it was really important to us. But we’re also aware that the world needs to change and the more that we try to prevent it from changing, the more chaos we create. It’s not anyone’s place to reject the next generation’s ideas.”

While the next generation seems to be less precious about the big screen, it does worry me that it could cost us access to theaters if people stop going. They may become things that only exist in big cities. But that's just me seeing the worst in all of this. Obviously, getting movies made is what matters, and streamers are making them at a much faster rate than anywhere else. 

“We love everything about classic cinema, but we’ve never been precious about that in any way, shape, or form,” Anthony Russo said. He went on to elaborate why Hollywood needs to change, saying, “How do you get away from the old models? How do you reach audiences that haven’t been engaged before? That’s all the most interesting stuff to us.”

For what it's worth, both Russos also agreed that budgeting and making movies at Netflix was a lot easier than with a traditional studio. They mentioned how Netflix gets out of their way and just allows them to work. 

These are all early conversations, but as we've seen, the pandemic has forced the industry ahead at a high rate. It seems like we're all playing catchup now,      

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4 Comments

I can't disagree. Going to the movies was never supposed to be an "elitist" activity (like theatre has become) but the cost of going has skyrocketed so much that many people, particularly families, are financially unable to do so

July 18, 2022 at 2:19PM

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David Patrick Raines
Actor/Writer/Director
591

I appreciate their nuanced stance on this. It's not an either / or kinda thing. Some movies are intended for the theater but that doesn't mean we should demonize streaming (and vice-versa).

July 18, 2022 at 3:11PM

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Dale Raphael Goldberg
Director / Editor
516

Man I gotta say the theater absolutely still is a sacred space, just as people find a sacred space in concerts or other hobbies. Getting out the house and stopping by a movie is one of the few truest pleasures I hold in life

July 19, 2022 at 3:16PM

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Tim
96

i have to agree, unless you go to a small independent cinema with staff you know in a place you like it's just too commercial and like going to KFC. you feel ripped off by the $50 for the popcorn and drink with the snack you didnt want. and then you finally sit down and have to go thru 45 minutes of adverts that you just paid for.

big cinemas are just broken and have refused to change even though their customers have. you can't cherish something that is so sterile an unfeeling and is pretty transparent in it's desire to fleece as much money out of your wallet as possible while giving you a like-it-or-leave product.

we should though be supporting those small independent cinemas who build events around a release or do talks on their favourite movies. those we need to cherish because those make memories and do make friends.

July 20, 2022 at 8:38AM, Edited July 20, 8:46AM

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