In the early 1900’s, after the discovery of moving images and film, cities like New York and Chicago were home to the worlds largest movie theaters, where curious people stood in line for hours to watch the latest studio productions featuring their favorite stars.
Surely enough, cinema has always been changing, but now a real threat may just be around the corner. This could potentially be the beginning of the end of cinema as we know it.
Cinema has always been challenging in many different aspects, especially for filmmakers. The old Hollywood studio system, the Hollywood Black List during the red scare, rating issues by the MPAA or maybe even more importantly, funding any movie that grants absolute freedom to the director.
Movie theaters used to be owned by the studios themselves until new regulations prohibited the studios from having complete monopoly; Producing, Distribution and Exhibition.
Maybe this paved the way for a more open playing field and gave other independent film studios and film makers a shot at reaching a wider audience.
The arrival of the internet that also brought the ability to download and share digital files brought along a new danger to cinema- piracy. Downloading illegally and sharing newly released movies were without a doubt hurting the box offices. And although damaging, it never got to the point that it destroyed cinema entirely. In fact, if I’m remembering reading this right, more money than ever is being made by filmmakers right now.
So if the internet piracy isn’t a true danger to cinema, than what could it be? Well, I believe that streaming services like Netflix and Hulu may be the beginning of the end. No, I do not mean that they are out there trying to destroy film and cinema. I just think that they were digging for silver and struck gold instead.
I believe that this generation and the generations to come after are quite different when it comes to entertainment and how they want to be visually entertained. I may very well be part of the last generation that is willing to travel to see a two hour movie inside a dark confined space. Think about it, we had technology available to us, but we still had to leave the comfort of our homes, if we wanted to be the first ones there. Things have changed now and everything seems to be available on demand and preferably on-the-go if possible.
I mean come on, why take your girl out on a date to the movies where you can make-out sitting next to some strangers giv nog you the side-eye when you can Netflix and Chill in the comfort of your own bedroom. We no longer record our movies and television shows, we simply push “Play from the beginning”. And Netflix, geez, well they have re-written the entire book on television, didn’t they? When and where else were we able to switch among all episode of Friends so easily? I’m in!
We have seen what this (r)evolution did to places like Blockbuster, so when will see the same things for places like AMC?
Well, maybe sooner than later, maybe never. But if it’s public demand that’s controlling the wheel, than all the big companies will follow their direction, and if that means that the next generations rather stay home, you can bet your ass that they will bring the movie theaters literally to your home.
Now I’m pretty sure that we will always have movie theaters, but maybe they will be more like art exhibitings or museums. A place where you go to experience movie going again. Maybe it’s funded by some art branch that tries to keep the flame alive and tries to be retro, giving new filmmakers a chance to show their films old-school, like we still have those film makers shooting movies on actual film instead of digital now. (This is not meant to be insulting, I actually love it that they still do that!)
So what are we possibly looking at? Well, maybe there will be an AMC or IMAX app that will let you rent new releases straight into your own screen. AMC yes, IMAX no? Well, you are right, even an 80 inch UHD can’t replace an IMAX theater, can’t they? Maybe Netflix will be bought out by Disney and this will be the platform we go to, to see the latest Star Wars and Marvel movies. By now we know that applications are the new webpages so the possibilities are endless.
And let’s not forget virtual and augmented reality. Will these forms of entertainment one day replace the way we watch movies? Will we get the main lead we always dreamed of? And how about 3-D and 4-D? Is this gaining popularity? Isn’t just seeing and hearing enough anymore? I’m personally not a fan, but I can totally see why some people love it. And video-games! Let’s not forget the video gaming industry. Aren’t they already making more money than the movie industry? Gaming is becoming much more accepted among all ages and genders and we are way passed Nintendo and Atari. With it becoming insainly close to photo-realistic imagery, we can no longer exclude it from being a minor form of entrainment when we are comparing it to just cinema.
Maybe I’m overthinking it too much and Cinema will be left alone, just as it is. But isn’t it scary? Not scary as in streaming devices are bad, because I’m all for it. I mean scary in a way that we may loose something precious, something we grew up with and that we enjoy. Because this is what I’m really trying to say. We can’t undo evolution. There is just no stopping this digital age, because we have adjusted everything toward it; our schools and education, our infrastructure, our economy, our arts- you name it. So if this trend only becomes bigger and the demand only gets higher, the money tap for cinema and film as we know it will be turned off eventually. And when the money stops coming in, there will be no more of it, period.
Studios will follow the demand because that’s where the money is, therefore filmmakers and producers will follow the studios because that’s where the jobs are. Finally, the last bunch of people that demand to see their movies in an old and dusty movie parlor with small uncomfortable seats will have to wait for suggested donation days or stand in line for 2 hours, because the passionate volunteers at the movie theaters are highly understaffed and auditory number 3 is currently out of service.
So enjoy it while you can! Cheers.