A few years ago, Netflix was nothing more than a postal movie delivery service, a million miles away from the streaming powerhouse that we now know and love in 2019. But has this growth of Netflix as a multimedia platform encroached on our cinematic viewing preferences? With many new films being funded by Netflix and hence given exclusivity to stream on the platform, does this take away from the excitement of going to the cinema?
To me, a trip to the cinema is an event. Going to get a slushy and some popcorn before struggling to find your seat, only to discover it has been taken by another random person. The trailers, and the general ambience of the feeling of being able to have an experience instead of watching it on the sofa. However, some of the biggest releases of 2018 were exclusive to Netflix, even some award nominees such as Roma and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and mega-hits like Bird Box. Would these have been more successful on the big screen? For Roma, the backing of the film by Netflix was a good move, as it opened up an example of non English-language, artistic filmmaking to an audience who probably wouldn’t have chosen to pay to see it. Bird Box on the other hand, may have been even more successful on the silver screen. It has all of the features of a box office hit: big name stars (Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson), a post apocalyptic nightmare, and enough suspense to kill a nervous hamster. Having already racked up at least 45 million views on Netflix, it would have been a goliath of the 2018 cinema scene to rival Bohemian Rhapsody.
So what is the appeal of Netflix over that of going to the cinema? Well, as the nights get colder, nothing beats snuggling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate in hand ready to watch the latest addition to the giant’s repertoire of original movies. Netflix has always tried to keep up with current trends, changing how we view and define film. Last year, Netflix released a feature length episode of dystopian hit series Black Mirror, with one simple catch: it’s interactive. Viewers played along on their devices, twisting and turning their own plotlines, which would never happen in the cinema.
But does the rate at which Netflix adds content impact on the decline of cinema? Not really, because the platform only releases a couple of new, original movies per month – the rest are releases from a couple of years ago. Therefore, if you are looking to view the latest releases, the cinematic experience is always the right way to go. The cinema will always be the choice of the film buff.