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Willem Dafoe pinpoints a problem with how streaming platforms change the way we watch movies

Too many distractions and a different atmosphere make "challenging" films more difficult to watch at home, explains the acclaimed actor

Willem Dafoe in Spider-man
Image credit: Sony Pictures

Willem Dafoe’s career has spanned decades, so it's fair to say that he’s seen how the movie industry has changed over the years. Most importantly for the purposes of this story, he’s seen how streaming has transformed the film and television landscape and how it’s changed what people watch - and in his opinion, the format simply isn’t right for all movies.

Dafoe spoke to The Guardian while promoting his newest film, Poor Things, and commented on how “more difficult movies, more challenging movies” usually fail to find an audience on streaming platforms because fans aren’t able to give the same kind of focus they would at the cinema. Considering the actor often appears in strange and wonderful films like the upcoming Beetlejuice 2, we can see why it would be a worry for him.

“The kind of attention that people give at home isn’t the same,” Dafoe explained. Those more challenging movies he mentioned “can not do as well when you don’t have an audience that’s really paying attention. That’s the big thing… 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.’”

The four-time Oscar-nominated actor also commented on how streaming sites like Netflix have become more powerful than studios were in the past. “They’re becoming like a monopoly, they have the means of production and distribution. And so it’s very complicated.”

While we’d argue that there are still great, challenging movies being made on streaming services right now, Dafoe has a point about how watching movies at home differs from going to the cinema. Sitting in a movie theater, with your phone off and your attention completely focused on the story in front of you, is simply a different experience from relaxing on the couch at home, with distractions all too present and easy to come by. They’re two completely different activities that encourage different behaviors from people, often to the detriment of more complicated films.


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Trent Cannon avatar

Trent Cannon

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Trent is a freelance writer who has been covering anime, video games, and pop culture for a decade. (He/Him)

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