Leonardo DiCaprio in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

At this point, it seems like there are few Hollywood heavyweights that haven’t weighed in on the ongoing debate about the future of cinema. While many have taken a firm side regarding Netflix, streaming, and the importance of preserving the theatrical experience, Leonardo DiCaprio has a unique perspective on where the industry can go from here.

In a rare print interview with Deadline, Leonardo DiCaprio revealed that he sees both sides of the argument. He began by defending an opinion that two of his frequent collaborators, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, have made headlines for supporting:

Without getting into that debate, the thing I’m in complete agreeance with, is we need the theatrical experience and seeing a film on-screen with the proper sound, with the proper scale, and the vision of a great artist is what is entailed. And we need to have a place that isn’t cannibalized by these slots that studios have for their tentpole films. It needs to be both, and if a lot of these films aren’t going to get financed by the studio system, we’ll have this new vanguard coming into town. We need to integrate some of these great artists and visionaries who have so much to say about our society, our culture, our world, to make great cinematic art. Because it is an art form and we need to give audiences an opportunity to see their work in all its glory.

Despite understanding the value of seeing films in an ideal cinematic setting, he warned against panic about the advent of the streaming era:

But let me ask you. Why do you fear all of this? We made the transition to video cassettes, to DVD, to this transition we’re in right now. We survived the move to talks from silent films. The advent of television that was supposed to hurt movies.

Leonardo DiCaprio told Deadline that he knows the struggles filmmakers face to get their films made, citing Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman as an example of why streaming has its merits, too. And ultimately, he argued that if more expansive kinds of storytelling can be folded back into the studio production system, everybody wins:

It’s honestly that we still have a place for great artists, great stories and that the theatrical experience that isn’t limited to a massive flashy concert experience where only certain types of films monopolize theaters around our country. We need to be able to give people that experience theatrically, of really unique artists. I think that can happen coupled with this transition.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s insistence that there are points to be made on both sides is one of the more realistic perspectives we’ve heard on this debate. Hopefully he will use his influence in Hollywood to help turn his optimism about cinema’s future into action.

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