Netflix started out as a DVD rental and sales site in 1997. Then ten years later, they morphed their product into an online streaming service, allowing customers to download movies from the net. Now with the American entertainment company set to spend upwards of $8 billion on content in 2018 alone, it’s pretty obvious they’re onto something as they continue to expand. And really, what’s not to love? With a wide array of films, old tv shows, original dramas and comedies, documentaries, kids programs and stand-up comedy for small price a month compared to almost triple for a trip to the cinema. Oh and did I mention no ads! With so many people streaming more and more everyday, is Netflix taking over and what will that mean for cinema goers?
One person who isn’t a fan is Christopher Nolan, who spoke out last year saying it takes away from the overall cinematic experience.
While he may be right, it seems everyone from Will Smith to Jared Leto to Robert DeNiro are starring in Netflix originals. The A-listers are going beyond mainstream movies and looking at other ways to showcase their talent, and Netflix originals is where its at. Netflix ended 2017 with 117.6 million streaming members worldwide, and as they plan to release 80 films this year, while Disney will launch 12, and Warner Bros will release around 20, it’s inevitable that more people will watch a Netflix original than go to the cinema.
So what is it exactly that makes it so popular?
Convenience – no doubt the convenience of Netflix is what makes everyone use it. You can watch it pretty much anywhere, including on your TV, computer, tablet, or smart phone. Convenience is always what people are after. Whatever makes things easier and simple. Is it being lazy? Maybe. But it’s also about comfort. Stay in your cosy bed or couch with your popcorn and beverage without having to get dressed!
Binge-watching – It’s being able to binge-watch your new favourite tv show. Instead of waiting week-to-week you can now watch a whole season over the space of a day, and choose to keep going if you’re up for it! Although film makers and writers have questioned this method, saying it takes away from the overall rhythm/feeling of being patient and watch it as the creators intended. But in the age of wanting things done yesterday, everyone wants it all now. Why wait until next week to see who the killer is, you can find out today! (We will talk more about the pros and cons of binge-watching in general in an upcoming post.)
FOMO – A big one that comes up is the ‘cool’ factor, or FOMO. It’s about being up to date with the latest episode of Game of Thrones or catching up on the newest original. You’re having a conversation with friends or co-workers and you don’t want to miss out on what they’re talking about now do you? Social media also plays a part in this, with everything being spoiled the minute it’s released. You can off course opt to stay away from social media until you’re all caught up, but how convenient and realistic is that? I don’t know about you, but its not great when you accidentally see tweets about the latest episode of The Walking Dead!
Background distraction – something that’s not talked about much is lot of people love to have something on in the background while they socialise, work or play with the kids. (It’s also great for anxiety and depression sufferers.) Although I dare say you will get quite distracted with something like Breaking Bad on while you’re trying to work! But again, it’s having something there to watch whenever the mood strikes instead of having to get ready, get the car out of the garage or Uber to the nearest cinema. Even when you’ve watched the whole series of something, it’s always there to watch again and again, to relax and not necessarily have to ‘concentrate’.
As Nolan and others in the industry have said, watching something that was intended for the big screen, on a small screen, can definitely take away from the overall theatre experience. There’s no denying that films like The Dark Knight, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings or Mad Max: Fury Road are definitely better experienced in full HD, in a darkened theatre, with surround sound. It’s also the whole thing of being with other fans. What’s better than watching the latest Marvel feature than with a couple of hundred other fans who love the same thing as you?! Off course it’s not always possible as many of the Netflix originals are just that. Films and shows that are not screened in theatres. The only way to experience them is on the small screen. Which then begs the question… what about the originals like Bright that would indeed benefit from screening in a theatre?
It’s really all up to the individual. Some of us prefer to stay in and relax, while others love the feelings associated with going to the theatre on a Friday night with friends. But whichever way you choose, there’s no denying that Netflix will continue to define the media market and how we watch the latest films and tv shows.
What about you? Would you prefer to stay home with Netflix or head to the cinema for the latest feature film?