Rian Johnson Calls Out ‘Horrifying’ Practice of Streamers Purging Their Libraries

Johnson dismissed the industry's willingness to discard completed work as the latest step in "a constant evolution of horrible things."
Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson
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In the blink of an eye, the so-called “Streaming Wars” went from empowering creators to creating more financial insecurity for them. Streaming services like Netflix and HBO Max were once praised for providing more buyers for quality content, but recent trends have seen them scrapping completed projects and removing their own shows to avoid paying royalties as they all struggle to attain profitability.

The penny-pinching approach now prevalent among streamers has attracted some notable critics, including “Glass Onion” director Rian Johnson. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Johnson called out the practice of streamers pulling films and shows (that they themselves produced) from their libraries.

“It’s been horrifying,” Johnson said. “The fact that it’s becoming common practice is terrible and adds to the awfulness. In the history of the business, there has been a constant evolution of horrible things.”

Still, Johnson advised creators to focus on their work and avoid thinking about elements of the business that are outside their control: “All you can do as someone who makes stuff is ultimately put your faith in the notion that if you make something, it’s going to find its audience.”

Despite his objections to the industry’s new strategies, Johnson is still deep in the streaming business — and his stature ensures that anything he makes will always find an audience. He’s gearing up to write and direct a third “Knives Out” movie for Netflix while presiding over “Poker Face,” which was just renewed for a second season at Peacock. In a recent interview with IndieWire, Johnson explained why he’s enjoying the process of working with a writing staff to bring his brand of mystery storytelling to the small screen.

“I wrote the pilot the way I write my movies, just on my own — but then we started up a writers room and that was the first time I was writing collaboratively. I really enjoyed that. We had a great group of writers and we had Nora and Lilla Zuckerman, our showrunners, showing me the ropes of how it works,” he said. “It was almost like assembling jigsaw pieces. I’ll tell you, after years and years and years of writing alone, it was nice to have other people there.”

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