By Nikolaj Ostergaard
Since the dawn of Netflix’s streaming service and the rise of its popularity, there has been an ongoing debate on whether it can be considered cinema and how it affects the way the whole cinematic and studio system market. The discussion can often be compared to lottery India, where it all can be a bit confusing and disorienting.
There have developed two (or a lot) competing points to the discussion. One supporting the art of cinema and the other one hailing a victory for consumers and viewers. This article will attempt to showcase how the discussion has developed and how it has come to this. Read further for more information and be sure to form your own opinion on the matter.
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The age of streaming
It is no surprise that streaming of television and film has taken a turn in which it has become the most popular way for consumers to watch and relax. Cinemas in the physical sense and DVD boxes have been replaced by subscriptions to Netflix and Disney+. The whole industry of TV and film has been turned upside down and the whole supply chain isn’t what it used to be.
When it comes to the horizontal supply chain of cinema, the production of cinema used to be a studio move – whether it is an independent studio or not – the studios’ were usually the ones producing the movies.
This has changed. Now production companies aren’t the only ones producing content for the streaming services. Netflix and other streaming services have decided to control another part of the supply chain – production. This means that a lot of exclusive content is being made and is making it so that the original way of watching films – on the big screen – is hurting.
There have been a lot of moves by the conservative cinema world to limit this. A great example and probably the most well known have been the exclusion of films as Oscar nominees if they haven’t been shown on x amount of theatres. Oscars are the benchmark for movies. If your movie has won a lot of Oscars’ it is recognized as a good movie. Therefore, this is a huge blow to a lot of original content that goes directly to streaming.
What cinema is all about
Cinema, at the beginning of the medium, was a cheap way of the middle class to get entertainment. The original purpose of the medium was to entertain the working class and it was perceived as such. This means that the working man could get entertainment he could afford, just like the rich people could go to the opera or theatre for a show.
If that is taken into account is Netflix then not cinema in its purest form? Having a Netflix account is much cheaper and more economic than going to a cinema every time a new film comes out. Eventually, all movies find their way to Netflix. This argument is often used by the supporters of the service and the way the industry is evolving. Opponents of this viewpoint are ‘true’ cinema-fans.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: अभिनय मेरे लिए एक आध्यात्मिक प्रक्रिया है : पंकज त्रिपाठी
Those who believe that cinema is more art than entertainment. Those who need to watch the film on the biggest screen possible believe that Netflix is making movies only for commercial use and therefore their business model will lead to the death of cinema. If art films can’t make money on their films, they will disappear.
The two viewpoints are both valid in a sense. Netflix has brought new movies to the working man and made it so that you – as the consumer – can watch and be entertained at all times. On the other hand, when wanting to make a movie the traditional way and outside the scope of streaming the studios are much more unable to support the films. This could lead to the destruction of what is known as a ‘niche-film’ and therefore narrowing the scope of the media.
How is the future looking?
The future is hard to predict when it comes to this industry. There has been a significant change in the way Netflix has been perceived by professionals. A big turning point was the fact that Martin Scorsese made his recent film exclusive to Netflix. Martin Scorsese is a legendary director in favor of the cinema. He is recently known for railing on Marvel Films calling them ‘not cinema’ and he doesn’t like the way the media is evolving.
He’s making a movie for Netflix is a big turning point, but as he often has said – the channel that supports his films the best is always gonna win. He won’t go out of his way to make the film he wants – the question is whether or not other filmmakers will?
(Disclaimer: The article is sponsored, and hence promotes some commercial links.)