One of the first big releases in one of the weirdest summer movie seasons in recent history is here: Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is out on Netflix today. Lee’s previous film, 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, premiered at Cannes and was nominated for six Academy Awards. This year, Cannes is canceled and there may not be an Academy Awards ceremony at all. So if you’re planning on watching Da 5 Bloods and sticking around for the credits to give the filmmakers their due respect — or, let’s be honest, see if there’s a post-credit scene at the end — well, Netflix won’t make it easy.
There is indeed a post-credit scene at the end of Da 5 Bloods … sort of. After the scroll of names, the credits cut to a big group shot of the cast and crew, with everyone smiling and saying “sheeeiiiiiiiiit” for the camera. It doesn’t last longer than ten seconds — it’s more of an Easter egg, really — but it’s a sweet moment, one that I almost missed because right after the credits began rolling, Netflix’s autoplay function kicked in, sweeping the scroll away into an illegible top-left corner inset, in favor of a blown-up image of Mads Mikkelsen eating what is presumably human flesh. “Hannibal, now on Netflix,” if you didn’t know. A countdown clock began in the bottom right: If I didn’t click on Da 5 Bloods credits screen to reopen it, Hannibal would begin playing in 3, 2, 1. Like MacGruber trying to defuse a time bomb, I swirled my cursor around the screen, missed, and Hannibal detonated. I had to exit and head back to the main menu, and then click on Da 5 Bloods again to return to the credits. (Yes, I watched Spike Lee’s latest big budget film on a 13-inch laptop. But we’re arguing about other insidious forces working against the pure, uncut moviegoing experience, here.)
Sure, there is a way to turn off autoplay, buried in the platform’s settings. But Netflix’s UX default is to skip over credits in favor of a constant flow of its next new releases. To paraphrase Hannibal, “this is their design.” (Clearly it works, because now I’m quoting Hannibal.) Which only contributes to the overall flattening effect of watching movies, particularly new, first-run releases, on Netflix. For all that the streaming service has positioned itself over the past few years as a serious movie distributor, it places even its prestigiest movies in the same content flow as television series, blurring the distinction between the two. If the experience reminds me of anything, it’s of watching movies cut-and-cropped for cable, where the credits roll at Benny Hill speed in a tiny window while the strict broadcast schedule ushers you into the next thing. Netflix doesn’t have to mirror this cheapened approach, as it has no programming slots to abide by — but it does, to the detriment of the home movie-viewing experience. So go to settings, turn off your autoplay, and let’s just sit with what we heard.