Outlaw King’s director David MacKenzie has opened up and defended working with Netflix, calling the battle between the theatre and streaming sites bogus and insisting that people need to stop romanticizing the big-screen.
“There is no competition. Netflix are the key players at the moment in terms of allowing filmmakers to make films on a big scale with massive creative freedom and control,” Mackenzie recently explained to me over the phone.
“Outlaw King,” which revolves around Robert The Bruce (Chris Pine) being crowned King Of Scotland, only to then be forced into exile by the English, which is when he leads a band of outlaws to help him reclaim the throne, might have been better suited to a theatrical release.
But, as the “Hell Or High Water” director explained, Netflix were willing to give Mackenzie the creative control and backing he demanded in order to fulfill his vision for “Outlaw King.”
“That is completely exciting for me. In 2012, when I had the idea, it didn’t exist in that form. As the landscape has changed it has given me the opportunity to make this ambitious film on the scale that we have made it.”
“With daily support, too, and trust in me as a filmmaker to do it my way. I am honored and happy to do it that way.”
“The slightly false dichotomy of the big screen vs the small screen is a bogus argument to be honest. There are a lot of films that are out on the big screen that people don’t see on the big screen anyway.”
“The big-screens are in terrible condition most of the time, multiplexes with one projectionist and the sound turned down. The romanticizing of the big screen is something that people serious need to question.”
“I don’t think it is what it once was in many ways. I would like to see a future of cinema where people like Netflix have their own cinema screens, theatre chains or whatever, because they look after the viewer experience rather better than some of the chains that exist now.”
“The nature of regrouping the costs and conventional ways of doing it are gone. Netflix has 193 territories now I think, and the film is released to them all on the same day. It is a massive reach.”
“They can think about their recruitment and getting their subscriptions in in a very different way to the studios. I think the time’s are changing.”
“It is hard for the studios to think in ways, outside of the franchises, to make money. Because it is so expensive to make and market movies in the conventional route.”
Thanks to Netflix, MacKenzie’s “Outlaw King” is a violent, brutal and authentic depiction of life and war in the early 1300s Scotland, and the director insisted it was always his intention to complicate cinema’s idea of heroism, which has long been “codified and simplified.”
“In the back of my mind I have always wanted to do a Scottish Medieval movie, because I was aware that the version of medieval life I had seen was all a little bit anodyne, a little bit clean, a little bit heraldic and nice.”
“It all felt a little bit ‘Princess Bride’ kind of thing. That wasn’t what that life was like. Robert The Bruce is a great and complex heroic character.”
“I have made a lot of movies with anti-hero characters and I can’t really bringing myself to do a straight hero thing. Robert was somebody who could do both. He has murdered someone in a church, he surrendered, he betrayed various people. It wasn’t an easy ride for him on his hero’s journey.”
“Cinema has codified and simplified this idea of heroism, and being able to explore a character who is regarded as a hero and is a complex one was something that was attractive to me for quite some time.”
“Outlaw King” is released on Netflix on November 9.