The transition from theatre to streaming wasn't as gradual as it may seem, and I don't know that I like it.
In 2020, the entire world changed due to the surge of COVID-19 cases. Everyone was quarantined for safety, and everything was closed, including movie theatres. With all of our extra time, we watched countless hours of tv. More people subscribed to streaming services to watch the latest movies and abandon commercials. Some people even started canceling their cable and opting only to have streaming services to indulge their need for media. With so many changes to media consumption, the industry had to change too.
When quarantine ended, the changes implemented were weird.
The first wave of changes came from actors making public complaints about their contracts not adjusting to the separate income streams. Movies with theatre releases were simultaneously released in streaming, diminishing box office profits. Actors were not happy, rightfully so. The most prominent example is Marvel's Black Widow. Scarlet Johanson ended up suing Disney due to inconsistencies in her pay.
Streaming services like Disney started offering new movies that would have usually been released in theatres as long as you paid an extra fee. On top of paying to subscribe to a streaming service, we had to pay even more to watch a movie. However, this practice didn't last long. The film would cost more for a few weeks then it was available for "free," assuming you paid for said streaming service. This practice is almost entirely gone, or people have just accepted it. I never paid extra and have yet to notice this offer recently.
Now, movie releases have changed again.
There was a time pre-pandemic before every major channel had a streaming service, where if you didn't want to pay to go to the movie theatres, you waited months or even years for the movie to become available for free on on-demand or even start playing on cable. Paying to go to the film was a big deal. The smell of the popcorn the moment you opened the doors, sitting through the trailers and weird theatre commercials, feeling the deafening noise of the surround sound get louder right as the movie was about to begin – it was a nostalgic experience that people craved.
The first movie I saw when movie theatres opened back up was Encanto. Then, not too long after, we watched the same movie from our couch on Christmas day. There was only a month between the theatre and streaming release. The same thing happened when George and I saw Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves. It was released in theaters in late March and on streaming by late May. It made me wonder why we wasted the extra money.
Even with the nostalgic experience of going to the movie theatres, why pay when you could easily watch it for less in a few months?
There's this concept of instant gratification, and maybe that's why people are happy that everything is available quickly. But not me. It's taking away the experience of watching movies. You can watch movie after movie without time to process it. Even the nature of memeing a film has changed because there are so many to watch. The next big blockbuster movie comes out before you have enough time to revel in the previous one. There's no discussion of the nuances in the writing, the beauty of the scenery, the talent of the cast, the flow of the soundtrack, or the effectiveness of the plot twist. All of the efforts of everyone involved amount to a quick watch without any appreciation. Even if it happens to get nominated for an award, no one watches the ceremony anymore. Yes, we stay entertained, but at what cost?