From Silver Screen to Silver Stream
The way we consume movies dramatically changed after COVID. As the world steadily opens up and cinemas re-open, will the movie-going public be willing to part with their screens and line up at ticket booths again?
The Shift from Cinema to Streaming
Remember when we used to line up at box office ticket booths for the last full show of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, a big tub of popcorn at the ready? Sitting inside a dark movie theater and experiencing stories that are larger than life for a couple of hours is a time-honored tradition for lovers of cinema.
The global pandemic pressed the pause button on many businesses, including movie houses. This forced everyone to watch new feature films through much smaller screens, whether from computers or mobile phones, thanks to media streaming services like Netflix and Apple TV+.
Before the pandemic, more people enjoyed going to movie houses to watch new movies. This has changed after 2020. More people now prefer watching new movies on streaming services over physically going to the cinema. Data from a Statista survey shows this.
COVID was the biggest factor in this shift from cinema to streaming. With cinemas being closed down for almost two years, the film industry welcomed streaming as a new player in the distribution game, and shortly after the demand for new movies grew during this period, these services themselves wanted in on producing unique and exclusive content for their platforms.
What was once the area of larger film studios opened opportunities for tech companies like Apple to create and produce feature films to stream exclusively on their platforms. It wasn’t long after that these tech companies started proving themselves as serious players in Hollywood, releasing content that not only entertained their paying subscribers but had real backing among award-giving agencies, adding a heavier punch to these companies’ portfolios.
And the Award Goes to…
An American remake of a 2014 French film, CODA was released exclusively on Apple’s streaming platform Apple TV +. The film bagging the Oscar for Best Picture has changed the game for Apple, making it the first streaming service to have won an award in the category, a feat their largest rival, Netflix has yet to do. Not bad for a streaming service that launched in November 2019.
In the last five years, Netflix has collected a decent share of Oscar nominations under its belt. 2018’s Roma and 2019’s The Irishman were strong contenders for Best Picture in the years of their respective releases, but both films failed to bring home the Best Picture Oscar for Netflix. In 2022 alone, Netflix had ten nominated titles, and twenty-seven nominations in total, including Best Picture Nominations for director Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog and the powerhouse ensemble thriller, Don’t Look Up.
While Netflix has yet to receive its Best Picture Oscar, the impact of winning an Oscar in this category has certainly impacted Apple TV+, which saw a spike in subscribers shortly after CODA’s big win. Their viewership has increased by 300% because of this movie alone.
While the rivalry between these two streaming juggernauts becomes fodder for our media-thirsty minds, it means more than simply two media giants edging each other out for awards and clout. The 2022 Oscar nominations and wins signal many shifts large and small within the film industry in terms of movie production, acquisition, distribution, and consumption. Once looked down upon in the movie-making industry, tech companies now have a stake in how movies are being made. Now, tech companies are running with the big dogs of Hollywood.
For the rest of us, that means that new movies are not just only a few clicks away, but we’re seeing a larger variety of movies and different types of stories. Beyond Hollywood, streaming services offer hundreds of titles that we never had access to previously. Many feature films that haven’t had their chance to be released in movie houses are now accessible through streaming services.
Cinema in the Digital Era
While many have become streaming converts after the pandemic, there are still some movie fans who will never give up their love of going to movie theaters. Size and scale have a lot to do with it. While many would be willing to give up the larger-than-life experience they get from watching a film in the cinema for the convenience and ease of seeing it from their laptops or mobile phones, there are a lot of purists out there who are not.
For these film lovers, the cinema is a physical experience as much as it is a sensory one. The whole ritual of preparing to go to the cinema, of queuing up for tickets and snacks, of seeing it with a whole bunch of friends and loved ones is what makes going to the cinema special. Sure, it’s easier to click on a button to catch the latest blockbuster without ever having to leave the couch, but there should be room for both types of movie lovers, and there should be space for both who enjoy seeing movies on bigger screens and those who would prefer to catch it on much tinier ones.
After all, a good movie is a good movie. Movie studios and tech companies can compete with each other racing to produce new movies that will become future favorites. For as long as the artistry involved in making movies can get better with the help of streaming companies, and millions of people get to see films any way they can, as many times as they want and in multiple ways, then that’s a win for movie lovers everywhere.
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