‘Drive’ Director Nicolas Winding Refn Bashes Streamers, Says ‘Theatrical Movies Are Part of What Makes Us Human’

The Danish filmmaker slams Netflix and Co. as being “overfunded with money and cocaine”

Nicolas Winding Refn, image courtesy of Getty
Nicolas Winding Refn, image courtesy of Getty

Danish writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn isn’t as pessimistic as he was back when he declared that “cinema is dead,” but he’s no fan of the streamers that, in his words, have “kind of saturated everything” and “devalued content to just a swipe.” He made the comments while participating in a masterclass at the Venice Film Festival. According to Variety, the filmmaker behind “Drive” and “The Neon Demon” called the streamers “overfunded with money and cocaine.”

Refn, whose last project was Netflix series “Copenhagen Cowboy,” argued that “it’s incredibly sad and terrifying because art is essentially the only thing – besides, you know, sex, water and happiness — that makes us exist.”

While arguing that cinema was not quite as dead as he projected a few years ago, he stated that film has changed into “something we have to fight for.” He declared, “Theatrical movies are part of what makes us human and experience creativity.”

Refn made a connection between streaming domination and the perils of artificial intelligence: “AI is not an artist. AI is a product.”

He told the crowd that he was working on a new film. His last two projects have been streaming shows, specifically “Copenhagen Cowboy” and the Miles Teller-starring “Too Old to Die Young” (with “Winter Soldier” comic creator Ed Brubaker) for Amazon.

Refn also spoke about realizing he wanted to be a filmmaker after seeing Tobe Hooper’s original “Texas Chain Saw Massacre” at the Cinema Village in New York. “It’s a very horrifying film, but it showed me what a movie could provoke. And that was like a painting, like a piece of musical.”