Guillermo del Toro weighs in on the streaming vs. movie theaters debate

Guillermo del Toro

Celebrated filmmaker Guillermo del Toro was part of a symposium at Cannes today discussing the current and future state of cinema as impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the struggle between streaming and movie theaters themselves. Del Toro was joined by Oscar winner Michel Hazanavicius, Costa-Gravas, Claude Lelouch, Gasper Noe, and Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino, among others. Thierry Fremaux, Cannes Film Festival director, helped moderate the conversation.

Del Toro first warned filmmakers against clinging to the old ways things were done. He admits that filmmaking and the way audiences consume media have changed. He stated: “We shouldn’t enshrine the past and try to preserve it’s not going to hold. The future will present itself, whether we want it or not. The level of dialogue and the old structure isn’t sustainable.”

He goes on to say that Covid accelerated the swift to streaming and that stories were a significant part of the healing process. He states: “It took a pandemic to shake it all up, we survived that pandemic: we had food, medicine, and stories. Three things that sustained us for months and years.”

Del Toro also acknowledges that streaming is not all bad. He stated: “What if the next big movie comes from a streamer and isn’t seen on the big screen? My first duty is to tell the stories whether you’re using a family member’s money or a pension.” His movie Pinocchio which was made by Netflix after studios passed on it, would not have been made without streaming’s popularity. He does worry that films on streaming platforms might not always find an audience. He stated: “Certain things; they’re getting done, but are they getting seen?” 

Del Toro would prefer audiences to see his films in a theater, but he also understands the convenience of streaming. Del Toro states that seeing a film in theaters allows for better concentration. He states: “Cinema tells you, you’re going to sit down and process this one story.” He hopes that he can help persuade others to see it his way. He stated: “If you can change one mind, you change a generation.” Time will tell what is in store for the future of filmmaking.