Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed his fears for the future of the movie industry due to the “dangerous” rise of Netflix and its “diet” of binge watching content at home.
The Oscar-winner told fans at the Edinburgh International Film Festival of his fears the “communal experience” of cinema-going was at risk of dying out.
Speaking after launching his new Beatles movie at the event, Boyle said watching television could not be compared with the “extraordinary” world of film and compared watching a film in a cinema to attending a football match.
However, Boyle compared the Netflix model of subscriptions and a “contract of endless time” to a marriage that gradually becomes loveless.
And he suggested the modern-day film industry was being “kept afloat” by superhero franchises and movies aimed at the children’s market.
Boyle recalled how he directed his first film, the Edinburgh-set Shallow Grave, after working on the BBC series Mr Wroe’s Virgins in 1993.
Boyle said: “Television and film are completely different. I’ve done other work in television after having made films and there is nothing wrong with it, but there is something extraordinary about film.
“The story is so precious. It asks you to sit once and give your exclusive time to one story. Television feels like endless time and it’s not exclusive.
“There’s something weird about going to watch a film with other people. You don’t know these other people and yet you will laugh with them and cry with them together. There’s this communal experience. You also get it at football matches.
“We’ve got to be very careful. It’s one of the dangers with Netflix. It’s so convenient and so wonderful and seems like an endlessly possible role model, and that there will be all these other streaming companies in future. But you lose something if you lose cinema.
“Cinema will always survive, but it’s about the scale on which it will survive. It’s surviving at the moment on these big Marvel movies and kids’ movies. But just imagine if, for some reason those movies fell off a cliff, as happened with Westerns, and people’s interest in them disappeared. What would happen to cinema. I don’t know. It’s being kept afloat by them.
“Meanwhile, the Netflix model just appears to expand continually. The model of subscriptions and then a diet of watching or not just seems to be effortless. What I don’t like about it is that it’s a contract of endless time. It’s like a marriage. You watch a series and you love it, but you know series six will be s***, but you still watch it in the hope that series eight will turn it around.
“I just find that endless contract not as interesting as the singular exclusive time you dedicate to just one story and one vision in a cinema. I find it very powerful. I don’t think television can get near that.
“The fact it’s an economy which generates money, work and jobs is a wonderful thing. It’s just the aesthetic difference between watching at home or coming to a cinema and watching a film with people you don’t know, even though everyone’s in it together.”