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Gary Oldman: ‘Mank’ Played Faster and Fincher’s Gags Worked Better in Theaters Over Streaming

While Netflix did open "Mank" in select theaters, the majority of viewers streamed the film starting in December.


Gary Oldman in “Mank”


Gary Oldman weighed the pros and cons of a streaming release like “Mank” while participating in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Actors Roundtable, noting that several of the gags David Fincher worked into “Mank” don’t register as effectively while watching the movie on the streaming platform. Netflix released “Mank” in select theaters in mid November, but the film’s streaming launch December 4 was how the majority of viewers watched the Oscar contender.

“You make a movie with, say, Netflix, you don’t have to have an opening weekend. You don’t have those particular pressures,” Oldman said about Netflix. “They log how many people are watching — I think it’s if you’ve clicked on and watched for two minutes, then it counts as a view. So I enjoy the streaming services like everyone else.”

Oldman continued, “But I was recently in London and ‘Mank’ was playing a three-minute walk from my hotel, and I thought, ‘I’ve never seen this on the big screen. I’ll go find out what the other customer thought of it.’ I went and there were about 11 people in the audience, but there was something to be said for being in this big space in a dark room watching this thing 40 feet across. It played faster. I think the gags worked better. And certainly, the guy behind me was having a good time. So there’s advantages and disadvantages.”

While “Mank” might’ve played better in a movie theater, most viewers only had the option to stream it given the pandemic. Regardless, no major Hollywood studio was likely to take a chance on a black-and-white movie made in the style of 1930s features and give it a nationwide theatrical release (even in pre-pandemic times). Ben Affleck participated in THR’s Actors Roundtable with Oldman and said as much.

“Gary, your movie is magnificent — it’s a masterpiece and my favorite of David’s movies,” Affleck said. “I mean, I also happen to identify with being an aging alcoholic screenwriter, so maybe I’m biased, but it’s incredible — and I don’t know that somebody right now in the studio-theatrical world would do it. You’d have a giant amount of pressure to have that movie do a bunch of money in the first weekend. So the fact that it got made is probably because a streaming service made it. I’m just glad it happened.”

“Mank” is streaming on Netflix.

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