Cinemas to streaming: how is the rapid transition harming the industry?

Ever noticed how rapidly new releases migrate to streaming platforms?

Sarah Tunstall
5th April 2024
Image source: IMDb
With Poor Things arriving onto Disney+ just under three months after its release date in UK cinemas, questions are sparking on how intrusive the streaming platform is becoming for the box office and theatrical experiences. Essentially, the streaming world is slowly but intrudingly taking over cinema. Looking into the statistics of how streaming the newly premiered films online, the outcomes weigh similarly in its positives and negatives but how has it impacted us, the viewer?

Streaming is essentially (or near enough depending on the further costs of a platform) accessible. Theatregoers have space to frequently rewatch their cinematic experiences in the comfort of their home as well as allowing those who couldn’t make or afford box office prices to do the same in close retrospect to a film’s release date. However, streaming just gives and gives to those who created these films. The wide-spread and accessibility forces the film to become highly consumed; filling the pockets of those who created it more swiftly than relying on a box office intake.

Why spend money for the cinema when you can freely watch and pause it at home?

Despite this, box-office intakes are entirely separate to streaming. Though the percentage that goes to the creator most likely makes no concerning dent in the pocket, local cinemas are struggling to deal with the sudden devaluation of the cinema experience. Why spend money for the cinema when you can freely watch and pause it at home? This is fundamentally the problem when these companies decide to transfer new films quickly to popular streaming platforms. It’s normalised to watch these films at home and miss out completely on the cinematic experience, reducing the form of cinema/filmmaking to nil. 

My last problem, at the fault of COVID-19, is the liability of placing a film so quickly on a platform. Before 2020 the normal case of films coming to platforms within months of its release date sign-posted the film as crap. If I saw a film on Sky, Netflix or Prime within say six months of its release date it was almost guaranteed that when I looked at the Rotten Tomatoes it would fall way below 50%. With this in mind, I am always hesitant to sit and watch a premiered film on a streaming platform. Admittedly my case for seeing Poor Things was purely inspired by Emma Stone’s winning of ‘Best Actress’ (comment aside I absolutely loved it, please go watch it).  

With the pandemic, staying home, isolating etc - I don’t need to remind you of the complexities of four years ago - should we really be encouraging to stay at home and avoid the cinematic experience? I understand for those who cannot afford the extent of film production versus cinema ticket cost; but for the small cinemas who rely on that reduced ticket price and niche audiences I pray this new wave of entering streaming does not close these little homes of theatrical explosions.

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