I love going to movie theaters. I see lots of movies on the big screen often on my own. But the majority of the movies that I go see are escapist, science fiction or action romps. I know that the true film lovers hate hearing stuff like that, but when it comes to plunking down 11-15 dollars just to sit in front of a screen that’s how I roll. I actually use move services. At the moment is AMC A-List. With that program I can actually make time to see some of the quieter films that I would otherwise wait to see on TV. But without such an option I totally fall back to special effects bonanzas. The reason for this as far as I’m concerned is that the big special effects films look different on the big screen than documentaries, biopics, rom coms etc. For instance, I loved Hidden Figures. I believe I saw it on HBO Now. I can’t confirm that it was HBO but it was definitely streamed. I can’t imagine that the meeting rooms or apartment buildings in the movie looked more amazing on a really big screen than they did on my you know, miniature 50 inch TV at home.
This is what Hollywood execs including Stephen Spielberg don’t seem to understand about the appeal of Netflix. And the recent push to prevent Netflix from trying to win Oscars is evidence of an industry kicking and screaming against the plainly obvious change that is happening in the entertainment industry thanks to regular advances in home entertainment technology. Its easy and inexpensive to watch a great thought-provoking movie at home. Films that don’t require large-scale in order to be appreciated look just fine on a 4k 50 inch screen. You can pause it when you need to step away, watch when you want it etc. I don’t think we need to spend too much time talking about how on-demand works in 2019.
So what defines a movie? Is it really sitting in an auditorium? Is it watching ads for concessions? Let’s be real about this. You can buy a 50 inch 4k TV at Walmart right now for less than $300.00. In communities with 15.00 movies prices that means a family of 4 can buy a new TV for the cost of 5 trips to the movies. This of course is the price without snacks. This is why Netflix and other platforms like it are growing. And if Netflix can start making artistic deep film why shouldn’t it be up for an Oscar? The film industry never saw this coming. TV’s where heavy little boxes a few decades ago and at that point some of them were still black and white? Does anyone want to watch Star Wars on a 20 inch black and white TV? Nobody did back then either, so the movie theater was the way to go. Now not so much.
Is the goal with Spielberg and the academy make sure that the industry is profitable? I can understand that. How do you make big budget movies if you can’t make the money back with large distribution deals? We wouldn’t want Marvel movies to look like a 1980’s TV show would we? But when people get highfalutin about things and talk about true film being shown in this or that aspect ratio it loses regular people.
Sports leagues have begun to suffer from the comfort factor. It is really far more fun to watch an NFL at home now than at the stadium. Its easier to keep up with other games, no hassle, a crap ton cheaper and again with an abundance of cheap big pretty TV’s you can feel the action right from your couch. The hotdogs don’t cost $12.00 and the parking is in your driveway etc. Movies on the other hand are not suffering from the same problem. For the film industry it’s more like Cable’s issues. High prices, travel to the place, enough free time to take in a movie away from home and the sense of value gained from sitting at a theater. If too many of those factors add up the wrong way, the appeal dies. This is probably why so many theaters have started redesigning with reclining seats, servers and such. Its also why there has been a push for 3D. Its something that is not the same at home, plus of course it makes the ticket cost more.
Streaming is here to stay Hollywood. And truth is many directors and actors should thank their lucky stars that this is the case because of the cavalcade of opportunities that have grown out of it. With streaming services making TV shows and movies along with cable channels, there has never been more opportunity for creators. And if they produce well made movies, they should by well be recognized along with what ever films at the theater have the right political message of the day.