Mike Flanagan: Netflix “actively hostile towards physical media”

the fall of the house of usher review
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Despite being a key part of Netflix’s past successes, Mike Flanagan has offered a scathing assessment of the platform’s attitude towards film preservation.

Not so long ago, Mike Flanagan was a major part of Team Netflix. On his personal blog, the Doctor Sleep director has talked in the past about the difficulties of getting projects made, and we can imagine that Netflix would have seemed like a haven for creators like Flanagan who, in alliance with the platform, was given the creative freedom to make a string of TV shows and films.

Flanagan’s output at Netflix was successful for all involved. As well as putting out a few films like Hush and Gerald’s Game, the filmmaker also created some of the most revered small screen horror series we’ve seen in years. The Haunting Of Hill House, The Haunting Of Bly Manor, The Fall Of The House Of Usher (pictured) and Midnight Mass all emerged from the mind of Flanagan and released on Netflix to huge acclaim.

Flanagan seems to have moved on, however. We know he’s currently working on the next film in The Exorcist series – and he’s offered a fresh take on Netflix which isn’t as warm as you might imagine. Writing on his blog, Flanagan answered a question about Netflix and the company’s reluctance to release its films and TV shows through physical media. In response, Flanagan wrote this:

“Working in streaming for the past few years has made me reconsider my position on piracy. You could say my feelings on the matter have ‘evolved.'

In the years I worked at Netflix, I tried very hard to get them to release my work on Blu-ray and DVD. They refused at every turn.

It became clear very fast that their only priority was subscriptions, and that they were actively hostile to the idea of physical media. While they had some lingering obligations on certain titles, or had partnerships who still valued physical media, and had flirted with releasing juggernaut hits like Stranger Things, that wasn’t at all their priority. In fact, they were very actively trying to eliminate those kinds of releases from their business model.

This is a very dangerous point of view. While companies like Netflix pride themselves on being disruptors, and have proven that they can affect great change in the industry, they sometimes fail to see the difference between disruption and damage. So much that they can find themselves, intentionally or not, doing enormous harm to the very concept of film preservation.”

This is just an extract from a longer response that is definitely worth a read. In it, Flanagan admits that he has tracked down and secured bootlegged copies of his Netflix series because that is the only means of preserving his work. He also adds that “the list of titles that have been removed from streaming services is growing quickly, quietly, and insidiously.”

Flanagan’s comments were written a few weeks ago, but have just been picked up by several outlets and are interesting to say the least. He’s not the first creator to express concern about the impact that streaming is having on media preservation and he won’t be the last. But coming from a one-time ‘golden boy’ of Netflix’s stable, it makes his condemnation of the company all the more damning.

Read more: The Fall Of The House Of Usher review | Mike Flanagan’s Netflix era ends on a macabre high

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