Martin Scorsese is keeping an open mind about the cinema "revolution" sparked by the rise of video streaming services, as his Netflix-backed mafia epic "The Irishman" closed the London Film Festival.
The director said the rise of streaming platforms was "an even bigger revolution than sound brought to cinema" because it "opens up the original conception of what a film is" and how it should be seen.
Scorsese told reporters he thought it was still important that movies be experienced communally.
"Homes are becoming theatres too but it's a major change and I think one has to keep an open mind," he said.
"The Irishman" — about the reflections of a former Jimmy Hoffa associate and hitman — is due to have a theatrical run for four weeks before its November 27 release on Netflix.
Scorsese took the project to Netflix after other studios turned it down, partly due to its length and the expensive de-aging digital effects used to make stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci appear decades younger.
Scorsese said the CGI effects, which have come in for some criticism, were simply "an evolution of makeup."
"You accept certain norms in make-up — you know he's not that old, she's not that young," he said. "You accept the illusion."
The Irishman was acquired by Netflix in 2017 after previous backers Paramount and STX dropped out. It has been suggested the studios got cold feet after the cost of CGI caused the budget to balloon to a rumoured US$200m. Moreover Scorsese's previous film Silence failed to fire at the box office.
Netflix has also upset other sectors of the film industry which are committed to defending the cinema experience. Several major US chains, including AMC and Regal, and two UK chains (Vue and Picturehouses) are likely to refuse to screen the film, as part of a long-running boycott of the streaming giant and its failure to respect the cinemas' traditional 90-day window of exclusivity.
The 209-minute film featured on the closing night gala for the 12-day London festival.
The festival awarded its best film prize to Colombian director Alejandro Landes' child soldier thriller "Monos."
The first feature prize went to French director Mati Diop's Senegal-set drama "Atlantics," and the documentary award was won by Rubika Shah for "White Riot," the story of the 1970s British movement Rock Against Racism.
"Fault Line" by Iran's Soheil Amirsharifi won the short film trophy.