Photo: Michael Kovac (Getty Images)

It began with a timid plea from Bill Hader. “I know there are bigger fish to fry right now in the world,” he told the IndieWire Honors ceremony earlier this month. “But in my little kingdom, if we could save FilmStruck, that would be really awesome.” FilmStuck, the lauded, one-of-a-kind streaming service from Turner Classic Movies, was canned by WarnerMedia last month so they could, ahem, “redirect this investment back into our collective portfolios.”

Well, they heard you, Bill. Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese apparently began the conversations with a petition, and yesterday a letter signed by some of Hollywood’s most esteemed filmmakers hit the internet, imploring Warner Bros Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich to revive the subscription service. “The FilmStruck service was (IS) the best streaming service for fans of cinema of all kinds: classic studio movies, independent cinema, international treasures,” it reads. “Without it, the landscape for film fans and students of cinema is especially bleak. There’s a reason there was a huge outpouring from artists and fans over it being shuttered, they were doing the Movie God’s work.”

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It continues: “In an era of huge corporate acquisitions of cinema by communication companies- in a business that may render billions of dollars off a medium like cinema, we believe this is a gesture that is needed- a minuscule show of goodwill towards the preservation and accessibility of a tradition and a rich history that would benefit the public.”

It’s signed by Barry Jenkins, Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Guillermo Del Toro, and Barbara Streisand, among many others. Read the full letter below.

Dear Toby,

We know that Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have been in touch with you and Warners Media Group about the demise of FilmStruck and have urged you guys to keep it going.

While it was not your decision, we would like to loudly echo their sentiments. The FilmStruck service was (IS) the best streaming service for fans of cinema of all kinds: classic studio movies, independent cinema, international treasures. Without it, the landscape for film fans and students of cinema is especially bleak. There’s a reason there was a huge outpouring from artists and fans over it being shuttered, they were doing the Movie God’s work.

We know one of the reasons that it has been shut down is because of an upcoming Warners streaming service, but really FilmStruck shouldn’t be a conflict of interest. In this day and age where there are dozens of platforms, curation of content is really important and FilmStruck was providing a service to both satisfy older fans of cinema and a younger generation of cineastes that will be making amazing movies long after we’re dead.

So we want to add our names to the petition started by Marty and Steven and want you (and Warners) to know that we feel equally strongly and would do anything to support the service being saved.

Yours,

Paul Thomas Anderson

Ana Lily Amirpour

James Brolin

Damien Chazelle

Alfonso Cuarón

Guillermo Del Toro

Leonardo DiCaprio

James Gray

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Bill Hader

Karyn Kusama

Barry Jenkins

Rian Johnson

Christopher McQuarrie

Reed Morano

Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas

Gina Prince-Bythewood

Barbra Streisand

Edgar Wright

As if that weren’t a powerful enough statement in itself, another letter landed shortly after. This one, signed by a diverse array of actors, writers, directors, and producers like Sofia Coppola, John Ridley, and David Oyelowo described FilmStruck as “a machine that generated empathy by curating not only classic Hollywood films, but by streaming and highlighting world cinema, cinema by female, traditionally disenfranchised, and LGBT filmmakers and storytellers.” 

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It continues: “While we understand that ‘business’ has always been a part of ‘show business,’ we would hope that if FilmStruck cannot be continued in its present form, it would be allowed to function until such a time as a suitable, and suitably robust, replacement can be launched.”

Read that letter below:

To whom it may concern at Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks:

Roger Ebert once said “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”

No truer words.

Though we live in a world with increasing ways to view content, the range of content and the variety of storytellers has remained, sadly, limited.

In its short two years of existence FilmStruck was a machine that generated empathy by curating not only classic Hollywood films, but by streaming and highlighting world cinema, cinema by female, traditionally disenfranchised, and LGBT filmmakers and storytellers. FilmStruck added a depth, breadth and richness to the viewing experience that had not previously been attempted, and may – fearfully – disappear permanently with FilmStruck’s demise.

We the undersigned respectfully ask Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks to please reconsider their plans for FilmStruck. While we understand that “business” has always been a part of “show business,” we would hope that if FilmStruck cannot be continued in its present form, it would be allowed to function until such a time as a suitable, and suitably robust, replacement can be launched.

We hope that Turner and Warner Bros. Digital Networks will pause to recognize what an extraordinary accomplishment FilmStruck is. Equally, we hope the powers that be will consider maintaining what has become a significant film site for true enthusiasts of the moving image.

Respectfully yours:

John Ridley

David Oyelowo

So Yong Kim

Rachel Morrison

Malcolm D Lee

Nicole Kassell

Mark Johnson

Hank Corwin

Nicholas Britell

Scott Alexander

Larry Karaszewski

Glenn Ficarra

John Requa

Billy Ray

Eric Roth

Sofia Coppola

Lenny Abrahamson

Freida Pinto

Nina Jacobson

Luke Davies

Mira Nair

Lydia Dean Pilcher

Jason Hall

Graham Moore

Liz Hannah

Jay Cassidy

Jeremy Kleiner

Steve Golin

Susanne Bier

Elizabeth Cantillon

Brad Weston

Sam Taylor Johnson

Vidiots Foundation

FilmStruck is slated to cease operations on November 29. In the meantime, the pressure is on WarnerMedia.

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