Another day, another Netflix Original. Really its getting a little crazy how these films are dropping onto the service now. I was thinking that its a glimpse of the future but I guess that future is here now and cannot imagine how much of a seismic shift this is proving to be in the corridors of power in studios over in Hollywood. Of course there is a market for big studio blockbusters and the big-screen experience but it does make me wonder what it means for other kinds of movies now. Is it simply reinforcing the troubling tradition of idiotic/simplistic bombastic spectacles at the multiplex , and relegating interesting and challenging dramas to streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon? Throw HBO dramas into that mix and its either an exciting or scary time for movie lovers. I’m not certain where I am on the subject but do think its troubling, particularly for people like me who still enjoy buying films on physical media and experiencing commentary tracks and other material supplementary to the main course of the film/show itself.
There was a news item last week that claimed that Netflix constitutes 15% of total global net traffic- adding traffic from You Tube and embedded material on websites, video amounts to over half of total net traffic. With the rise of 4K the demand for bandwidth can only get higher- and what of the impact of Disney’s own streaming service touted for next year and its eventual rise to global domination? I suppose one question that arises, is can the infrastructure from broadband providers cope with and prove reliable under all that demand? Will the public continue to be willing to shell out for multiple avenue streams or will things start to go bump for someone, somewhere in the cable/satellite network business?
What does it mean for cinema attendances with all these movies, good and bad and indifferent, admittedly, dropping onto ever-bigger televisions as if by magic and leaving lazy audiences increasingly reticent regards making the effort to go to the multiplex? How many people didn’t bother to go see BR2049 at the cinema simply because they thought they’d wait for it to drop onto their television? The unfortunate truth is no film company is going to spend $185 million on making a movie if its just going to end up on streaming services as that avenue stream simply isn’t cost-effective.
In a way, I’m getting guilty of just the same thing now, as very often I’ll reason that if I’m likely to buy the film on UHD disc anyhow, I may as well save the expense of buying a cinema ticket and just wait for the disc. I’d also argue the viewing experience on a 4K UHD at home is superior to the experience of watching a film with a bunch of morons who can’t avoid their mobiles for longer than ten-minute intervals anyway, but that’s a whole other subject. Or maybe it isn’t. Going to the cinema is a bit of a crapshoot, and has been for awhile. Its also getting rather expensive, too.
So that brings us back to the convenience of Netflix and how our access to and consumption of media continues to rapidly change. Its like the VHS revolution all over again in some ways. The rise and fall of Blockbuster Video might be a cautionary one for current content providers though.