In the past five years, the way we watch videos and movies has drastically changed. Due to the high cost of tickets and refreshments, people are simply not going to movie theaters like they used to, rather, video on demand is the way most people watch movies now. People use laptops or smartphones, renting or buying films through their cable on-demand menus, and through subscription services.
What’s more, the home screen is slowly becoming a staging area for bigger movies. When the Weinstein Company released the art house sci-fi allegory “Snowpiercer” on demand two weeks after its theatrical debut, the digital box office was $5 million in three weeks, versus $4 million in six weeks for brick-and-mortar theaters.
Netflix is now funding blockbuster movies, hit television shows, and popular stand up comedy specials that are being featured directly on their streaming website.
There has been a transformation of in home entertainment, where we binge-watch TV series until they seem like one long telenovela, which is transforming our patterns of consumption, and corporations are trying to keep up with content. The notion that we need to ruminate on our TV shows for a week before watching the next episode is much more about what programmers need than what the audiences want.
Where does that leave the movies, a medium that has held on for over a century, through the arrival of sound, television, and the internet? It depends on what kind of movie you’re talking about. Big studio tent poles — superhero movies, youth comedies, high-profile dramas — almost always arrive first in theaters and have to wait 90 days before appearing on your home or mobile screen. Small, independent films may not be on the big screen, but the good ones usually gain attention from word-of-mouth. With movies going straight to DVD or Netflix, this could also help smaller, low-budget films.
The next generation of professional motion picture storytellers will be freed from the weekly format, just as blogging and other online media liberated newspaper journalists from the 24-hour news cycle. Tablet devices are replacing not simply the home PC and laptop, but the TV set as the primary personal information and entertainment device. However small screens isolate viewers, offering no community experience.
This is just the day and age we live it. The way we watch movies shouldn’t matter, the only important factor is that we are still watching.