The rise of video streaming has uncoincidentally coincided with the near destruction of television cable providers. The gravestone has already been made, chiseled by the major streaming companies (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) and left without a date in anticipation for the inescapable death of cable television. The monopoly over entertainment, it seems, may not be the end of the insatiable desire of conquest for these ever-growing media giants.
The impending dissolution of cable companies may serve as a bellwether for the trending movement away from cinema and toward in-home streaming. It was in 2015 when Netflix released its first feature-length film Beasts of No Nation for streaming and in theaters both on the same day. The vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, Patrick Corcoran, said in an interview with Wired magazine that “Netflix is not serious about a theatrical release.”
This attitude is not all that far-fetched, as Netflix’s monthly fee is only $8 at it’s very cheapest, less than the cost of most theater tickets. Fears over the infiltration of large streaming companies seemed validated during the 2017 Academy Awards, when the Amazon-produced film Manchester by the Sea won two Oscars: Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.
Meanwhile, Netflix-original content includes such critically-acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning shows Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, it seems to mark a new age in entertainment programming as a whole. More recently, Netflix bought the production rights for War Machine, a political satire comedy starring Brad Pitt. The company has also reportedly spent an estimated $100 million to produce an upcoming and untitled Martin Scorsese film starring Robert DeNiro. What were once exclusively streaming services have transformed into production companies with the resources and influence to attract highly sought-after actors and filmmakers, and the motivated business goal to beat out other production studios showcases Netflix’s growingly aggressive strategy to stay ahead of Hollywood.
For the consumer, it is difficult to predict what this shift will entail as theater marketers search for ways to bring the people back to the silver screen and out of the comfort of their homes. The public’s loss of interest of movie theaters might well double as a loss of one of the longtime enduring American industries, and may have a broader cultural impact than one what might expect from present circumstances.
Even so, perhaps Netflix and its similarly-minded colleagues will have underestimated the loyalty of the public to the theater business. Though time will tell, the looming movement towards the free-of-interaction desire capitalized upon by these streaming companies is feeding into a system which only seeks to harm those it serves. Perhaps this realization or a fault on the part of the streaming companies will expose the growing distaste for social interaction and prompt a response.