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Netflix has long been known as a disruptor in the entertainment world. The development of original content has upended many traditional ideas about film and television, with Duncan Jones' film Mute standing as one of the platform's most highly-anticipated upcoming releases. Much discussion has been had about the role of Netflix in the modern entertainment landscape, and according to Jones, Netflix is an essential tool because it has helped create a new landscape for mid-budget films like Mute. In a recent interview, the Moon director explained:
It's really, really hard. There used to be a time when middle-budget movies had support from the independent arms of the studios to make films in that $20 million to $40 million range. And that just disappeared. It's gone. Dead. So, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, these places have started to pick up the slack. And I'm incredibly grateful for that because, on a creative level, it's now an outlet for different kinds of movies to get made. So that's a huge 'pro' in the situation. The 'con' is you have to play by their rules. And as much as it hurts me sometimes to think, God, there's never going to be a big opening of this movie, we're never going to get the chance to show it on huge screens everywhere and do that side of it. There are not even going to be DVDs or Blu-rays. So that part of it is not ideal. But the benefits: if Netflix hadn't picked this up it wouldn't have gotten made. That's just the truth of the matter.
Hollywood has changed in recent years, and it's not nearly as common to see a movie made for a medium-sized budget as it used to be. In fact, if you look at some of the most successful films of the last few years, they often fall into the range of a massive blockbuster in the vein of Star Wars: The Last Jedi or they're movies made for incredibly small budgets, such as a horror movie like Get Out. Mid-range films don't get the kind of theatrical play that they used to, which is why streaming services have become so invaluable to directors like Duncan Jones who want to make a "creative" movie of that scale.
Despite the opportunities, Duncan Jones' comments about working with Netflix also highlight some of the drawbacks. A movie like Mute won't receive a home release push on Blu-ray, for example, and a Netflix release means that the bulk of audiences will see it on home screens instead of big screens. That said, Jones also made sure to note in his interview with Uproxx that a film like Mute would've never gotten made without a platform like Netflix, so the benefits likely outweigh some of the drawbacks.
Of course, to get a better sense of what makes a movie like Mute so risky, you should also know what it's about. Taking place in Berlin in the not-too-distant future, the film focuses on a mute man named Leo (Alexander Skarsgard) in a desperate search through the criminal underworld to find his missing girlfriend. The film appears to play like a neo-noir thriller in the vein of Blade Runner 2049, except it doesn't have a franchise name backing it up.
Mute will be available to stream on Netflix later this month on February 23. As for the rest of 2018's major movie debuts (theatrical or otherwise), check out our comprehensive movie premiere guide!