“Harry Potter” producer David Heyman may have moved into television (his latest series, “Clickbait,” is streaming now on Netflix) but he is, at heart, a cinephile. Which means the last 18 months — a blessing for streamers and a disaster for exhibitors — have left him in a difficult position.
“I’m someone who loves the cinema, and I am concerned,” Heyman told Variety during an interview for “Clickbait,” which was produced by Heyday Television, the company he co-owns with NBCUniversal International Studios. “I think it’s really important that we make films for the cinema as well as for the small screen.”
Under his Heyday Films banner, the veteran producer has overseen an eclectic cornucopia of commercial and critical successes, including “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” “Paddington” and “Marriage Story.” When asked whether cinema is dead, he answered with an emphatic “No!”
But with children between the ages of 13 and 36, Heyman is “acutely aware” that viewing habits have changed. “Having had the experience of lockdown, having become used to watching things at home, [getting people to go to the movie theater] is undeniably more of a challenge than it has been. But I believe in the cinema-going experience, and I will continue to make films that aspire to that.”
The solution, he believes, must come from all corners of the industry. “I do think we need financiers to support it. We need, you know, the Sonys, the Warner Brothers, the Universals, the Paramounts, the Disneys to make cinema for the big screen. We need talented filmmakers to make films that are undeniable.”
“And we need to make the experience thrilling,” he continued. “We need to make good content, because good content draws people to venues, whether it be film, whether it be the cinema or, you know the screen. It’s easier of course to go [to a] small screen because you don’t leave your home […] you can just [say], ‘Oh I don’t like this’ and you can switch over.”
He also cited the 45-day window (down from the previous 90 days) between theatrical and home release as another crucial factor in ensuring the longevity of cinema. “I think the day and date is problematic for the theatrical experience,” he said, although qualified that by adding: “I also think the two can coexist. You know, if you’re going to do day and date then charge a lot for the experience.”
Ultimately, of course, no one really knows what the future will hold. “The business has changed so much in the last year — in the last 3 years, in the last 5 years, in the last 10 — and I think that anybody who tells you it’s going to be this way, a year or two down the line, or three or four, I don’t think they know,” Heyman said.
“It’s like people who say, ‘I know what’s going to be a commercial hit.’ You don’t. You really don’t,” he said. “We won’t know until the next few years are up.”