Edward Norton is calling out movie theater chains ahead of the theatrical release of his upcoming Warner Bros. drama “Motherless Brooklyn.” In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Norton tells reporter Nick Schager that “it’s the theater chains that are destroying the theatrical experience. Period, full-stop. No one else.” Norton calls on moviegoers to be vocal about ensuring movie theaters are running projection and sound at top quality because in most cases around the country they are not.
“A lot of filmmakers and cinematographers that I know that have really started to look into this say that more than 60 percent of American theaters are running their projector at almost half the luminosity that they’re required by contract to run it at,” Norton said. “They are delivering crappy sound and a dim picture, and no one is calling them on it.”
Norton continued, “If [movie theaters] were delivering what they’re supposed to be delivering, people would be going, ‘Wow, this is amazing, I do not get this at home’…Well, I want people to literally walk into their theater and find the manager and say, ‘If this looks dark, you’re giving me my money back. Because I’m paying — and at the ArcLight, I’m paying premium — for a premium experience.'”
Norton said he personally witnessed movie theaters’ bad quality when he went to test screen “Motherless Brooklyn” in a theater that was screening “Captain Marvel.” The filmmaker told The Daily Beast that 14 is the quality control spec the Marvel film should be running at but the theater was running the movie at a 6.2 spec.
“That means it was literally running at less than half the light that was supposed to be on there,” Norton said. “You want to train people. Like, go get your money back. If the movie looks dark — it was — go get your money back! I think we should rally around that. I really do.”
Norton’s criticism of movie theaters came after his defense of Netflix. Norton said he disagreed with Steven Spielberg’s headline-making comments that Netflix poses a danger to the theatrical experience. Spielberg even argued that Netflix movies should qualify for Emmys and not Oscars. Norton said that Netflix is doing more to preserve the theatrical experience than movie theater chains themselves.
“If I disagreed with anybody, with great respect, it was [Steven] Spielberg,” Norton said. “Netflix invested more in ‘Roma’ theatrically than any boutique label at any studio would have by a factor of five. They put a Spanish-language black-and-white film all over the world in theaters. Hundreds of theaters, not just a few; as many as Sony Pictures Classics would have done. They put more money behind it, in a theatrical context, than anybody would have. You can’t tell me there’s a whole lot of people making black-and-white Spanish-language films and putting that investment behind them.”
Nortan added, “There’s a lot going on because of Netflix, and what it was the vanguard of, that represents an unprecedented period of ripe opportunity for many more types of stories and voices to be heard, and told, and celebrated. It’s incredible, what’s going on.”
“Motherless Brooklyn” is opening nationwide November 2 from Warner Bros. Head over to The Daily Beast’s website to read Norton’s interview in its entirety.