In this new age of technology, people have the opportunity to access millions of digital content on various mobile devices. One such content source is streaming applications, which has been a beneficial alternative to going to the movie theatre. People can just pull up Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or HBO Go and have access to a wide variety of movies, television series and original content. A genius idea for the new millennium, but is this hurting the way people see movies? Have people changed their ways so dramatically that streaming is the new form of viewing cinema?
Go back 20 years to the year 2000. Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph met with Blockbuster executives with the hope that the now defunct video-rental company would purchase their company for $50 million. Back then, a person could go to a store and rent a video for however long and return it. The CEO of Blockbuster laughed in his face, as no one at the time could comprehend the idea of streaming movies. People saw Blockbuster’s method as quick, cheap and convenient. This rejection would only motivate Netflix to expand their platform and come out on top as the multi-million-dollar company it is known as today. With a wide catalogue of movies, popular television series such as “Friends” and “The Office” and original films such as “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story,” Netflix seemed to be on top.
Enter a famous mouse. On Nov. 12, 2019, The Walt Disney Company launched Disney Plus, a streaming service full of Disney’s films and TV shows, as well as original content such as “The Mandalorian.” The titan company, who owns Marvel, LucasFilm and Fox, has put all of their licensed products on the application. From Marvel movies to the entire Star Wars catalogue of movies and TV shows, it seems as though Disney Plus is crushing the other streaming applications. But, Netflix is not going down without a fight. The day after Disney Plus launched, Netflix announced a multi-year partnership with Nickelodeon, which has allowed Netflix to stream Nickelodeon shows such as “Victorious,” “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Rugrats.” Netflix is also planning to create original Nickelodeon shows such as a “Spongebob” spin-off with Squidward, a potential revival of “Rugrats” and a sequel to “Jimmy Neutron.” When asked about the benefits of streaming digital content, Coordinator of Theatre Programs and high school drama teacher Steven Broyles said, “The move to streaming content has probably done more to democratize entertainment than when the video rental business exploded in the 1980s. Anyone can choose what they want to see and where they want to see it. Therefore, the studios are creating content that is much more than just a story told in moving pictures. They are creating experiences they know cannot be recreated at home or on a device that can fit in your pocket.”
While Disney Plus has acquired 10 million subscribers in one day, Netflix has fought back with producing two Oscar-nominated films: “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman.” Both films, which were nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actor and Best Director, were distributed by the streaming company and received critical acclaim from audiences and critics alike. With Netflix having two Oscar-nominated films under its belt, it brings into question whether or not streaming is the future of cinema. Senior Collin Bailey said, “Movies like ‘Bird Box’ proved that Netflix could make commercially successful films, but these recent nominations prove that they are capable of making critically successful films as well, which is definitely a huge step.” When asked about the preference between digital content and content seen in theatres, sophomore Noah Walton said, “Personally, I would believe that movies will continue to block being bought by streaming services like Netflix in order to continue to create a larger sum of revenue. By buying tickets to a movie, it provides the box office enough to continue making movies. With movies that flop (ex. “Cats”), they might as well be sold off to a streaming company. Chances are that movies will continue to stay in theatres until there is a better way to sell movies.”
At the push of a button, a plethora of content is at a person’s fingertips. Sophomore Elizabeth Schneider said, “The world is changing, and people never really want to leave their homes. This is especially for movies; with all the programs that support in-home program watching.” With the new trend of streaming content, it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next couple of years as streaming excels with content and originality. As that content and originality improves, it will make way for other companies to view the rival competition and decide to produce their own streaming platform. This truly is the digital age of film.