Amazon’s ‘The Aeronauts’ premieres in Toronto amid concerns about streaming services

From left: Actress Felicity Jones, director Tom Harper and actor Eddie Redmayne attend ‘The Aeronauts’ premiere at the Roy Thompson Hall during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario September 8, 2019. — AFP pic
From left: Actress Felicity Jones, director Tom Harper and actor Eddie Redmayne attend ‘The Aeronauts’ premiere at the Roy Thompson Hall during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Ontario September 8, 2019. — AFP pic

TORONTO, Sept 9 — Amazon Studios’ The Aeronauts had its Toronto International Film Festival premiere yesterday amid concerns about the impact of streaming service providers on the traditional theatrical-release model.

The Aeronauts reunites Felicity Jones and Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne as pilot Amelia Wren and real-life scientist James Glaisher in their hot-air balloon expedition to reach unrivalled heights.

The Aeronauts will have a mere two-week run in theatres starting December 6, before launching on Amazon Prime Video, a shift from an earlier plan to debut the film exclusively in IMAX Corporation theatres for a week before a November 1 theatrical release.

“It’s all changed, isn’t it,” Redmayne said to Reuters on the red carpet yesterday, saying that streaming services like Amazon give access to people who do not live near cinemas or cannot get to them.

“But obviously, I still love the experience of sitting in a dark room with other people and being bombarded with stories that you experience as a community,” he said. “So I hope there’s room for both.”

For the first time, Cineplex Entertainment’s 14-screen Scotiabank Theatre, one of the festival venues, is not screening any of Netflix’s eight productions or Amazon Studios’ seven films.

The theatre is the venue for most of the festival’s press and industry screenings. The two streaming services’ press and industry screenings are held at the TIFF Bell Lightbox location, a spokeswoman for the festival told Reuters.

Cineplex prefers to screen movies from studios “who understand and appreciate the importance of the theatrical release model,” a Cineplex spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Netflix pulled out of May’s Cannes Film Festival after organisers banned its films from competition for its refusal to release them in cinemas.

“I’ve made so many films that they just don’t get seen that it’s so lovely to be making something that you know it’s so easy to access and people all over the world will be able to see it,” Jones said on the red carpet.

The Aeronauts story is based on a September 5, 1862, hot-air balloon expedition by Glaisher and balloonist Henry Coxwell which broke the world record for flight altitude.

Redmayne and Jones co-starred in The Theory of Everything, for which Redmayne won an Oscar for his portrayal of physicist Stephen Hawking. Jones, who played Hawking’s ex-wife Jane, was nominated for an Oscar.

“We’re old friends,” Jones said. “I think we really push each other. We probably drive each other crazy. We’re both meticulous and detail oriented and we don’t stop until we feel that we’ve done something special.” — Reuters

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