How Streaming’s Changing Film

Jul 20, 2021

The word “binge-worthy” is fairly recent. Prior to the advent of streaming, the only way to binge a TV show was through purchasing or renting a hard copy of it on DVD. Along came Netflix. They were fairly ahead of the game on streaming titles, conceiving of their service well-before the movement that they later launched. Read about Tech Companies Influence on the Film Industry Streaming was already apparently the way of the future. As independent films became more abundant, their theatrical relevance was slipping. Still, however, occasional hits like Get Out and Lady Bird showed that these types of movies maintained broad appeal. Once theaters largely shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, streaming became something else: the one safe-haven for entertainment. Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBOMax, etc. all became the main source of value for media. The already suffering cable TV lost many of the live events, such as sports, that had become their calling card in recent years. With the Christopher Nolan film Tenet being the first big-tent release for a major studio in the midst of the pandemic, as theaters were open in some places and had limited seating, it’s flop sealed the deal for Warner Bros. They were also going the route of streaming. Even today, with the pandemic coming to an end, Disney and Warner Bros. are releasing their films in both theaters and on streaming concurrently. Warner Bros. is simply doing a dual-release on HBOMAx, but Disney has a much more interesting strategy: you can watch the movie on their streaming platform for a premium fee while it’s in theaters. Either way, they’re getting the value of a ticket on new releases. Paramount, however, saw its solely theatrical release of A Quiet Place Part II do extraordinary numbers. They chose to release the film on streaming only forty-five days after its theatrical release. In those forty-five days, it did $188 million at the box office. Even with theaters facing their biggest test against streaming, they seem to have their place; no matter the most-advanced home setup, there is something magical about going to a movie theater, paying for overpriced popcorn and soda, and watching a newly released movie on the big screen. But despite the continued relevance of theaters (which is still difficult to predict), there’s no denying that streaming has changed an industry. Television has seen a golden age revitalization in an era when attention spans are short and people want to binge whole seasons in a day. Bingeing a movie series is, anecdotally, substantially more exhausting. While it’s true that many films are being released on streaming platforms, the market has become much more competitive. After all, with such plentiful streaming sites, piracy is on the rise as well. Not only does content have to be quality, there has to be a lot of it. So, perhaps the hey-day of independent films in theaters has come to an end with streaming giants giving athlete-sized contracts to writers and directors, but they still do have a place if the content is quality. Streaming’s blessing is also a curse: these giants simply can’t keep up with all of the demand that they’ve created. At a certain point, they either have to add independent content to their catalog in increasing numbers, or partner with outside studios. We certainly know that streaming has already changed how we consume content and how it’s released. The question is: will streaming become the only place to watch movies and TV?

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