In strictly practical terms, few people on the planet have done more on behalf of the movie theater industry than Joe and Anthony Russo, whose Butts In Seats stats across their four Marvel movies (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame) are pretty much unparalleled. But the Russos also pretty clearly aren’t theatrical purists—something made clear with their two major post-Marvel movies to date, streaming films Cherry (for Apple) and The Gray Man (for Netflix)—and also with a quote Joe Russo just gave THR, where he maybe, kind of, a little bit told movie theaters to go fuck themselves.
Specifically, Russo—in a wide-ranging and surprisingly candid interview alongside his brother, in which they’re also pretty critical of Disney’s current Marvel strategy—took a swing at the whole “going to the movies” concept itself, saying, “A thing to remember, too, is it’s an elitist notion to be able to go to a theater. It’s very fucking expensive. So, this idea that was created—that we hang on to—that the theater is a sacred space, is bullshit.” Hence, presumably why The Gray Man is headed to Netflix after only a one-week limited run in theaters, after which it can live free within the Russos’ populist vision of films for everyone (who can afford an increasingly expensive Netflix subscription, at least).
The Russos insist they’re not anti-theater, just “agnostic about delivery”; no Christopher Nolan-esque hand-wringing about screen sizes here. This, despite Anthony Russo stating explicitly that The Gray Man “Is big cinema. We made it for a theater. That’s how we shot it, how we styled it and, on a technical level, how we supported it.” (The apparent paradox between these two stances goes unaddressed.)
Even so, it’s a pretty interesting interview overall, in so far as both brothers are pretty clearly aware they’re in an essentially bulletproof position at the moment, and are thus free to casually admit that The Gray Man (a spy thriller starring Ryan Gosling and Evil Chris Evans) is a “one for them,” “business-focused” movie designed to keep money coming in for more interesting projects—like Daniels’ Everything Everywhere All At Once, which the pair financed—or calling out their old pals at Disney for getting “conservative” in their content creation strategies. “Disney’s gone very conservative,” Joe Russo asserts. “Post-[Bob] Iger, they seem to be in IP management mode. You’re going to get all the Star Wars and all the Marvel you can handle for the next decade.”
They also compare the Marvel backlash to people turning on U2 when they got popular, say some inaccurate things about the origins of auteur theory, and note that Amazon and Apple are weird and deforming outliers in the entertainment business at the moment because their entire multi-billion-dollar entertainment budgets amount to “a rounding error” in their overall treasure troves, so, yeah: Not a dull interview, in any case.