As someone who thoroughly loves going to the movies, I personally believe that seeing a movie in the theater is by far the best way to experience it. Not only are the physical aspects improved, such as the visuals and sound, but psychologically speaking, going to a theater is vastly different. When you go to the cinema, you mentally prepare to sit down and commit a certain amount of time to the film and thus are more focused on its content.
The same does not hold true when watching a movie at home or any other place where Internet is provided. Therefore, I have always been opposed to the idea of streaming services releasing their movies exclusively online. However, I also understand that you can’t always afford to go out and there is a certain comfort in sprawling on your bed and watching Netflix on your laptop.
My concern isn’t with people watching movies on Netflix, but with movies foregoing a theatrical release. As of now, this isn’t the standard, but I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine a world where streaming services become the prominent medium for film and beg the question: Will Netflix be the death of cinema?
What initially got me thinking about this is Martin Scorsese’s new movie “The Irishman," which will be his most expensive movie with a supposed budget of $175 million. The rights are owned by Netflix. I do not know if the movie will be released in theaters, but if not, it seems highly unlikely that the film would be profitable from a financial perspective.
But before “The Irishman,” Netflix’s most expensive movie was “Bright," and despite terrible reviews, the movie was commercially successful. According to Google, 92% said they enjoyed the film and rumors have it they are making a sequel. Thus, “Bright” proves that even with a $90 million budget and no theatrical release, big-budget movies don’t need to be in theaters to be considered a success.
I also hate to be the guy that shits on the artistic taste of the masses, but a movie as terrible as “Bright” receiving acclaim from so many people makes me question how film is perceived in today’s society. Movies like "Bright" make turgid movie snobs like myself say that artistic cinema is dead.
Fortunately, “Bright” is just one example and the idea of cinema being dead is ridiculous when you look at all of the brilliant movies that achieve both artistic and commercial success. Most notable of these films would have to be “Black Panther," which has made over $1 billion worldwide and has received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
This is undoubtedly good and shows that movie theaters will be here for a while. Hell, there’s even the possibility that streaming services die out before we see the end of cinema. But still, Netflix and other streaming services are definitely changing how we see and feel about movies, and it's always something to keep an eye on for moviegoers like myself.