Netflix is pissing off filmmakers with their new option to speed and slow down shows

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Filmmakers have another bone to pick in the name of cinema. This time, they’ve set their sights on media powerhouse Netflix, who is testing ways to let subscribers watch content at faster or slower speeds. And film folk are taking to Twitter to let Netflix know: this means war. And Judd Apatow is leading the charge.

First noted by Android Police, savvy mobile users of the streaming service spotted a new feature on the Netflix Android app that allowed subscribers to speed up (or slow down) playback without muting the volume (to playback speeds 0.5x, 0.75x, 1.0x, 1.25x or 1.5x, respectively).
The feature is not unlike what most podcast and audiobook apps already have and is used by some listeners to consume content more quickly (or, in some cases, to slow it down if they have a difficult time understanding it).
The first-blush response from industry creatives, however, was not good. Turns out filmmakers don’t like the idea of viewers watching their painstakingly crafted work on Chimpmunks mode.

Filmmaker Judd Apatow (Knocked Up), who also co-created the Netflix series Love, tweeted this threat: “Don’t make me have to call every director and show creator on Earth to fight you on this. Save me the time. I will win but it will take a ton of time. Don’t f— with our timing. We give you nice things. Leave them as they were intended to be seen.”

Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul, who is reprising his acclaimed role in the Netflix movie El Camino, slammed the move: “Stop … There is NO WAY @netflix will move forward with this. That would mean they are completely taking control of everyone else’s art and destroying it. Netflix is far better than that. Am I right Netflix?”

Director Peyton Reed (Ant-Man) tweeted: “This is a terrible idea, and I and every director I know will fight against it.”

Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol) tweeted it was “another spectacularly bad idea” and “another cut to the already bleeding-out cinema experience”.

Director Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) tweeted: “Does everything have to be designed for the laziest and most tasteless?”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

I am super salty this week due to an Apple battery recall wreaking havoc with my work life, so I apologize for my lack of tolerance for, basically anything. On this subject, I hate to do this, but I do see both sides. I understand that these folks have put blood sweat and tears into their work and they want it watched in the way that was intended. Nuance and inferences might be eliminated at 1.5x speed. But I have to ask, have they never skimmed a book? I can promise you Margaret Mitchell did not intended for me to merely rush through the mangled bodies and falling South during the Civil War but that’s exactly what I did for about 75 pages. The article states that podcasts and audiobooks already offer this (I am unfamiliar with that feature) so why does film get to be sacred? As a viewer, I am also on both sides of the fence. I absolutely agree that we should all be looking for ways to slow down and drink in things at a slower pace to really absorb them. I can also think of four films off the top of my head I would actually watch if I had this option.

Even with the threat of World War Apatow coming at them, Netflix is sticking to their guns. Vice President Keela Robinson released a statement that said they routinely test features requested by their subscribers and that this test is only for mobile devices. She also points out that DVD players already have this option but they are sensitive to “creator concern” and will only move this out of testing after they’ve analyzed all the feedback they receive. You can read Netflix’s full statement here. Like I said, I could be swayed either way on this feature for films. However, I now desperately want this to be a feature of live performances. Like, the audience all votes at which speed the actors have to perform the play. Next thing you know, Eddie Redmayne’s doing helium hits to deliver the Saint Crispin’s Day speech during Henry V.

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Photo credit: WENN Photos

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35 Responses to “Netflix is pissing off filmmakers with their new option to speed and slow down shows”

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  1. Sassbr says:

    I don’t honestly know why this is a logical choice to add as a feature except that they also offer this in some streaming podcast apps like Stitcher. Idk what it is used for at all.

    I will tell you that if someone speeds up the film and rips it off Netflix and reuploads it to the internet, it is MUCH harder for bots to catch it for copyright infringement. Sometimes the free stuff uploaded to YouTube, etc. is sped up or down a smidge.

    • Erinn says:

      Bahaha, I’ve watched some Ghost Adventures (I know, I know, but it’s so funny) on youtube where they’ve done this, and it’s the most hilarious thing because Zach Bagans already speaks in an over the top dramatic sort of way… so when it’s slowed down it’s just downright funny.

    • Meg says:

      Yes I’d seen those videos too, I bet you’re right . That’s probably a reason for directors to get upset about this too

    • Aang says:

      I slow down video to .75 for ESL classes. It helps them practice listening. I usually play a video slowly. Then regular speed with subtitles and then regular speed no subtitles.

  2. Susie says:

    I might be in the wrong side of this, but I don’t see a problem. Some of these movies are over 2hours with a bunch of no talking scenes that last for ever. Give me the substance and let me move on, cause nobody has time for that. Also, these directors need to bring it down a few notches. These wat threats don’t really mean anything to me and makes me not like them.

    • Mira says:

      I couldn’t agree more! These people who are so opposed to this all come off as arrogant blowhards to me. Let people enjoy entertainment the way they want to.

    • Lucky says:

      YouTube has this option and I have used it before, just slightly faster, to get to the point of a video. I don’t think it’s a big deal.

    • Snowslow says:

      Errrrrr are they aware that before VCRs no one could fast forward or rewind?
      Film watching has changed a lot and will continue to change.
      This just screams insecurity to me.

      Edit: Sheesh, Appatow is insufferable. Does he really think he’s in the same league as REAL film directors? AHHHAHHHhhh

  3. JulieCarr says:

    This is so silly. You can already speed up films and TV via all sorts of media players. Netflix isn’t even the first streaming service to make it an option.

    It’s not like people are going to sit down to watch amazing films like Roma and The Irishman and decide that want them playing at 1.5x speed. They’re going to use it for the trash tv they want to catch up on and the mediocre films they have on in the background while they play on their phone.

    Also, Judd Apatow edits his films so indulgently that speeding them up a little might actually improve them.

    • Lily says:

      Exactly. It has always been a feature, if anything, I’m rather surprised to hear that Netflix didn’t have that option before (I don’t have Netflix).
      I’ve never seen any of Judd Apatow’s movies, but he sounds like a massive jerk and a spoiled high-school bully. ”Don’t waste my time… I will win…” How dare people pay for entertainment in their own home and then consume it the way they prefer? Just that the option exists is preposterous, now we’ll never be able to grasp the subtle undertones of an artistic masterpiece like Knocked up!

    • Allergy says:

      So true, Apatow always seems to make a miniseries, not a movie.

  4. A.Key says:

    Erm, have these people never heard of the fast forward button??
    Do they really think no one ever uses it? LOL

  5. ichsi says:

    Well the sped up scenes are a staple of every live improv show, so you’re in luck there 😄 I honestly dont have an opinion on this. I don’t particularly get why you would speed up something, just skip the parts you don’t like, and if you have troubles understanding something, turn on the subtitles. But on the other hand: why police how people consume their media? I can guarantee you that a lot of people don’t really appreciate art out there without those features already.

  6. BayTampaBay says:

    If you pay to watch something you should be able to watch it the way you want to watch.

  7. Fluffy Donuts says:

    I think they’re being a tad self involved. Shocker, I know. Kind of like how Tarantino never includes deleted scenes in his DVD/Blue Ray discs. I have used this feature on YouTube several times, they post events from my daughter’s school and I’ve slowed down the video with sound off to get a better look at things. This option is just a natural upgrade from regular fast forward. Geez…

  8. Gutterflower says:

    Once it’s mine I will do with it what I want.

  9. Enn says:

    I already fast forward through parts of shows and movies that I’ve already seen. Doesn’t everyone?

    Also LOL to this entire sentence. “Director Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) tweeted: “Does everything have to be designed for the laziest and most tasteless?”

    WATCH OUT EVERYBODY, WE GOT INSULTED BY A SPIDERMAN DIRECTOR. 😂😂

  10. BC says:

    I got Netflix this year and was honestly surprised its not a feature. Some movies are quite boring in the start and once you get the gist of whats going on , you just want to fast forward a little bit. Its like when im doing research on something and i view a youtube vid, if its more than ten minutes long, i will speed it up. At 1.25x, i can still understand the narrator’s words and see whats going on on the screen. Im glad its fast forward with audio because visual-only fast forward used to suck in the VHS era. I also fast forward music on youtube, am i the only one? Con calma sounds so much better at 1.25x

  11. ema says:

    i don’t get it– Netflix is just giving the viewers the OPTION to speed up/slow down? so those of us that want to watch the movie at the creator-recommended speed can still do that? why do they care if I want to watch some movies or shows a little faster or slower?

  12. Solange says:

    Whaahh the ART is being demeaned. Let’s be honest: these people are creating commercial products, not pure art. They have to deal with budgets, sales, promotion and market tastes. I wish they’d get their heads out of their asses and admit they’re creative professionals, not fine artists. Professional creatives don’t get caught up in their egos—they know the product is for the customer, not themselves.

  13. Jesys says:

    Here’s what I think: it’s a dumbass feature and I can see how this could be annoying from a creator’s point of view IF, and only IF, it wasn’t optional. Netflix isn’t making anyone speed up these guys’ movies and, as said above, it’s not exactly a brand new feature? Speeding up has been around for ages. Its not necessary, but literally no one watches a whole movie at x0,75 speed.
    The thing that annoys me about these guys is that they seem to deny that cinema, like any other art, it’s not still – it changes. Filmmaking changes, and so does the way it is consummed. And something else: you can’t control your audience. Stop assuming the public is dumb and you know better. Hell, don’t you think we know Marvel movies are dumb? We know, but they are fun, and I can see how it is not for everybody, but there’s like… Real problems lmao. With cinema and with the world. I’m not saying Marvel and Netflix arent above criticism, far from it, but come on: 95% of directors struggle to even get financed and these guys are acting like speed up is the end of the world. Cinema isnt just what you do and what you like. Shut the fuck up man Im begging you.
    Sorry foe the rant Im passionate about movies lol

  14. Dal says:

    Lol art ..ok ..these actors and directors think quite High of themselves don’t they .. you made the art and now let the viewers choose what they want to watch

  15. Allergy says:

    90 percent of Netflix is crap anyway.

  16. damejudi says:

    Has Judd Apatow actually sat through ALL of his movies in their entirety?

    If he did, he’d change his tune.

  17. lucy2 says:

    I used to get a lot of DVDs from Netflix back in the day, and I’d use the speed up on a LOT of them, if a movie was dragging. I would prefer that to the fast forward Netflix currently has, which tends to jump all over the place and has no audio.
    I understand them not wanting the pacing of their work changed, but this is something people have been able to do with DVDs forever, and it’s not being forced on anyone, it’s an option.

    I talk fast myself, and listen to audiobooks and podcasts at 1.5X generally. When I put them on 1X after getting used to the sped up versions, it sounds so slow!

  18. Courtney says:

    If they’d start making films with run-times under 2.5 hours this might not be necessary. Even the crappiest movies are so, so long now.

  19. EM says:

    Slow down would be a really great option if you are learning a foreign language. (Lots of people use dubbed Netflix shows for language practice.)

    • Original Jenns says:

      I was just going to say this! It’s an option and it may have other functions than just speeding through Judd Apatow iconic art films. I would love to watch films in other languages that I am trying to learn at a slightly slower speed. I’m not doing it to mess with your creation, I’m doing it for my own reasons. Maybe I want to skip a scene but don’t want to jump around, so I’ll speed it up? Maybe I love an actions sequence and want to watch it slowly to appreciate it even more.

  20. prettypersuasion says:

    I work in media archives and watch footage at 3x the normal speeds. My brain is used to it, and it’s a feature I would LOVE to have for Netflix. Saves so much time.

  21. Pineapple says:

    We have already set into motion an acute lack of patience in North American culture. Binge watching shows, pings when you receive texts or emails or any notifications. Companies study how to get us addicted to our technology, how to get us to consume as much as we can. I don’t see a problem with offering sped up movies and shows … I don’t object to people consuming art how they would like. However, a shorter attention span is what all of these things result in, and I can’t help but wonder how that affects society as a whole. Like, you don’t have three minutes to watch a section of a movie? You are just too, too busy? Really? I have three children, two teens, I might be viewing this too much from the “Mom lens.” But if you are too busy to watch the movie sequence you find “boring” maybe you need to not be watching a movie? Maybe you don’t need to be on pins and needles with excitement all the dang time?

  22. What. . .now? says:

    I agree with most commenters–its media that I have paid for–I WILL consume it however I please. Do NOT tell me how I am supposed to watch and/or enjoy a movie or TV show.

    Also, these people need to get over themselves and STFU. Average deals with Netflix are in the $200+ million range–and they’re STILL effing whining? Go take a seat–a theatres worth of seats, in fact.

  23. M.A.F. says:

    Just put the captions on. I do that when I am watching anything on streaming and DVD/blue ray thanks to a roommate back in college who did it. Except do not use the captions on Amazon Prime. They are terrible and they freeze.

  24. Seán says:

    I personally wouldn’t use this feature for Netflix movies or TV shows (except if I was learning a language) but I speed music videos on YouTube to 1.25 all the time! Upbeat music sounds better at the faster tempo 90% of the time and some ballads sound more dramatic at a faster pace too. It’s all optional so it really shouldn’t matter!