Are Cinemas a Thing of the Past?
By: Olivia Lotufo
In the past, we had to browse through various channels in search of the perfect film (hoping we caught it at the start), block out hours from our schedule to watch the daily episode of our favourite show, or go to the cinema for the latest movie. Now, with the click of a button, it is possible to watch anything, anywhere, and at any time. In 2007, when Netflix changed from a physical DVD rental to an online platform, it sparked a digital revolution which only grew since.
And recently, the pandemic was a major fuel to this growth; as the number of people at home increased and attending a movie theatre ceased to be an option, the film industry was forced to adapt. With this, Netflix – previously the most renowned app for watching films and TV series – became just another fish in the vast sea of streaming platforms, joined by Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Hulu, amongst various others.
Further, these companies now have their own productions. Whilst it is true that some of these films aren’t true cinematic masterpieces, other are. In the 2022 Oscars, CODA (produced by Apple TV+) became the first streaming film to win best picture, and many others – produced by Netflix, HBO, and Prime Video – have also been nominated and won other awards.
Debuting films on digital apps rather than solely in cinemas was previously unheard of, yet Dune, Black Widow, and the newest Batman – all widely anticipated – did exactly that, as did many other films. This leads us to question whether paying for a cinema ticket is really necessary when you can watch the same films from your own home.
Consequently, cinemas are now tasked with seeming attractive again. It is no doubt that the massive screens and top-notch sound systems are appealing in themselves, but this does not seem to be enough anymore, especially when tv displays are getting bigger and bigger.
What cinemas are now trying to do is replicate the comfort customers get at home and enhance it; couch-like seats and better dining is becoming increasingly common in theatres. Rather than selling the film, they are selling the entire experience – having a great screen and sound, being comfortably seated, eating great food, and being surrounded by others (vital to some after isolating for so long). Also, even though many still prefer watching from their own homes, the cinema continues to be a social destination – it is a popular spot for a group of teenage friends, families with children, and many others.
Thus, though being heavily impacted by the pandemic and the growth of streaming platforms, it seems as though cinemas will last a while longer. Yet, unlike in the past where costumers where only looking to watch the latest movie, cinemas will have to offer more lavish environments if they are to survive.
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