“I love Netflix, but fuck Netflix,” she said to big applause from the theater owners gathered in Las Vegas. “There’s nothing like sitting in the cinema and the lights go down.” Mirren then added, “I would like to thank you guys for making that environment possible.” (It’s commonplace for talent to praise cinema owners onstage at CinemaCon.)
The veteran actress’ surprise commentary prompted plenty of laughter from the crowd (Mirren was also smiling). She also drew laughs when recounting how her very first film earned her an up-and-coming actress award from ShoWest, CinemaCon’s predecessor.
Mirren was flanked by Bill Condon, director of The Good Liar, a thriller based on the Nicholas Searle novel of the same name. Ian McKellen also stars, but wasn’t in attendance. The Good Liar will be released by Warner Bros.
Netflix has been a huge topic of discussion so far at CinemaCon, the annual gathering of theater owners and Hollywood studios that got underway Monday. Many cinema owners won’t carry a Netflix film, since the streaming giant doesn’t honor the traditional theatrical window. That policy has pitted exhibitors and Netflix at odds ever since the streamer moved into the original movie space.
Earlier on Tuesday, Crazy Rich Asians helmer John M. Chu explained that he passed on a big Netflix offer to distribute the film, while MPAA chief Charles Rivkin detailed his organization’s process behind allowing the streamer to join. “Here is what I know. We are all stronger advocates for creativity and the entertainment business when we are working together…all of us,” Rivkin said.
Mirren’s remarks came on the same day the Justice Department sent Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences CEO Dawn Hudson a letter raising concerns about the Oscars’ eligibility rules and how it might affect Netflix. Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, wrote that the division wanted to draw attention to “its concerns that may arise if the Academy implements certain restrictions in a way that tends to suppress competition.”