Warner Media Animation Chief Jason Demarco: The effort needed to create art has been "devalued" in the streaming age

Jason DeMarco, Warnermedia's anime chief, has a few issues with the way we watch stuff.

In a Twitter thread, the executive laments that the rise of streaming platforms was narrowing the theatrical market to “huge event movie[s].” While acknowledging that streaming has made more “art” available than before, he worries that it is being subsumed into a sea of online “content.”

“Fucking bummer that no one will see anything that isn't a huge event movie in the theater anymore,” writes DeMarco. “It's not good for movies at all. But they've made it so easy to just stream any old thing, that the average consumer ain't gonna spend the money or time on anything that isn't BIG.”

The numbers bear this out: nine of the top ten films at the domestic box office this year are sequels or franchise films based on very well-known IP. The top four are all superhero films.

DeMarco adds, “There's more art available now, and it's easier to get to than ever before. But the work it takes to create it has really been devalued in the eyes of the consumer. It's all just 'content.' A YouTube video is judged the same way as a Twitch stream, or a streaming series.”

DeMarco leads anime and action series at Adult Swim, where he manages the Toonami programming block. He recently took on a similar role across Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios, where he is spearheading the production of anime and action shows. He has produced many shows for linear tv and, more recently, co-productions between Adult Swim and Crunchyroll bound for both tv and streaming.

While he doesn't mention any company by name in his thread, DeMarco will know full well that the one he works for, Warnermedia, has been among the most aggressive in promoting streaming over theatrical during the pandemic. The entire 2021 slate of its studio Warner Bros. was released simultaneously in cinemas and on streamer HBO Max.

DeMarco points a finger at “the weird tribalism people have about some of the massive, corporate-driven IP.” This kind of fandom “makes the landscape even MORE hostile for anyone trying to do something different. Or even, for anyone trying to engage with it.” It's worth noting that he has produced works based on famous IP, including the series Blade Runner: Black Lotus and the upcoming theatrical feature The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim. Both are anime spin-offs from their respective franchises.

The lament that “event movies” are increasingly dominating theatrical exhibition is common - just ask Martin Scorsese. So is the worry that good films and series are being buried under the deluge of online content. But it's rare for an executive of DeMarco's stature to say these things publicly.

Here is his thread in full:

Image at top: “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” the highest-grossing film at the domestic box office this year