One of the reasons why so many acclaimed filmmakers, including those that had previously turned their nose up at the idea of making a movie exclusively for streaming, renege on their word and head to the small screen is because of the amount of creative freedom on offer.
Platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, AppleTV+ and HBO Max don’t have to worry about box office dollars or studio politics, so the talent are largely free to make their films exactly the way they envisioned. However, that doesn’t mean that streamers are going to snap up anything that gets offered their way, as Mike Leigh can attest.
The veteran writer, director and playwright has been churning out small scale independent dramas for 50 years, with seven Academy Award nominations and one Palme d’Or victory at the Cannes Film Festival from five nods to his name, and yet he revealed in an interview with iNews that he was knocked back by Netflix.
“I’m finding I’m having problems getting funding. People want to know what it is and why it is. Netflix just turned me down, which is a shame, because they have plenty of money. They said they couldn’t possibly contemplate backing it without knowing who the cast is or what it’s about. It’s nonsense, because if they made it, people would watch it – because it would be there.”
Having spent upwards of $200 million on Red Notice, it’s a shame that Netflix couldn’t spare what would be pennies by comparison for the next Mike Leigh feature. We’ve only seen two new movies from the 78 year-old in the last decade, and he’s been open about how a failure to secure funding has been a huge reason behind it.