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Christopher Nolan wants you to see Tenet in a theater. He’s virtually willing the global pandemic to come to an end so that moviegoers can safely return to movie theaters and watch his latest, twisty drama. Niki Caro and Patty Jenkins likely feel the exact same way about their movies, Mulan and Wonder Woman 1984, respectively. They were made for movie theaters, and that’s where they probably play best.
But plenty of films are able to make the transition to a smaller screen with ease, and You Should Have Left director David Koepp counts his upcoming horror-thriller as an example. Koepp has created a paranormal drama centered around a struggling family, starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried. And when he joined the ReelBlend podcast to discuss the film’s production, he informed us that a paid VOD release might actually be preferred, in this instance. Koepp said:
I don’t know that this [movie] was always destined to be in a theater. Certainly, we hoped for a theatrical release. We wanted a theatrical release, but we had just come to the point where we were discussing it with Blumhouse and Universal when COVID came and made it moot. But part of me felt like, I don’t know that I want to be… I’ve been making movies for 30 years. And having them be in a movie theater is the ne plus ultra. That’s the experience you want. That’s how I best like to see most movies. But this movie, it’s cinematic, but it’s also intimate. And, you know, theaters have changed. What’s shown in theaters has changed. What people are willing to go out to see has changed. And what I definitely didn't want to happen was to go out and compete with a minor league budget for promotion and have to compete with a bunch of $150 or $250 million movies. Or squeezing some weekend where you feel like a tiny, some sliver of the audience might be yours. I just didn’t want to get crushed. So when this came as an option, and a possible new way for them to debut movies, I was really thrilled.
David Koepp was talking about releasing a movie in a normal theatrical cycle. But the strategy is going to be so much more difficult as movie theaters reopen and start to adjust to hosting audience members again. While we don’t have concrete details, theaters are going to have to operate at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing. And this means the majority of screens are going to be dedicated to a Mulan or a Tenet. The films like You Should Have Left would struggle to find space.
To that end, Koepp went on to tell ReelBlend that he hopes this model is sustainable simply because he prefers the paid VOD:
I hope it works. Not just because it’s my movie, but I hope it works. Because tonight, I really want to watch The King of Staten Island. I think that’s great and exciting when something comes out that way and you can do it at home. And I don’t mind paying the 20 bucks. I know it’s a lot of money, but if there’s a couple of you, and you like the movie, which is really crucial, I think it’s a great way to watch.
You can start watching Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried in David Koepp’s latest film You Should Have Left starting on Thursday, June 18. To hear our full conversation with Koepp, dive into this Bonus episode of ReelBlend:
And to stay up to date on the ever-shifting release schedule, bookmark our guide, and check it often.