Opinion: Could cinema die as we know it?

Movie consumption could change the way we relate to cinema.

Person holding a TV control

The decision to simultaneously broadcast premieres between film and streaming could change the future of the film industry. / Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: Opinión: ¿podría morir el cine tal y como lo conocemos?

The pandemic wreaked havoc on the film industry. From the BBC they reported that Warner Bros. announced that the 17 films that will be released in 2021 in the United States will be able to be viewed simultaneously in theaters and on its paid streaming platform, that is, HBO Max.

This news could already be foreseen because the production company had already announced that Wonder Woman 1984 would be released at the same time on HBO Max and in theaters. However, the trend increased for other films, such as Matrix 4, Godzilla vs King Kong, Matrix 4, or Suicide Squad 2.

This decision could change the future of the film industry. More precisely, the way in which we relate to the new releases and the way we consume them. Let's see, then, what it would mean for the next releases to appear simultaneously in the cinema and on streaming platforms.

The conflict between streaming and cinema

When we go to the cinema, we do it to live a different experience. It is something different in the sense that, unlike watching a movie from home, the simple act of going to the cinema implies a change in attitude and perception.

That is, when we go to the movies, we are paying to have a different experience. With the democratization of the Internet and the arrival of hundreds of streaming platforms, the reality is that anyone can watch almost any movie from the comfort of their home. However, we all know that it is not the same.

For example, a study carried out by University College London revealed that watching a movie in the cinema "increases the heart rate as much as doing a light cardio exercise", since the body reacts to the immersion involved being in a room, causing the mind to focus completely on the only thing ahead: the screen.

Read also: How inclusive are Netflix productions?

From the technical point of view, watching a movie at the cinema implies accessing resources that would be almost impossible to have in our home. Starting with the huge screens, but also going through the audio systems and even the chair on which you lean. That is, a whole structure designed so that you have a different experience.

At the same time, it is an exit from home, where, as spectators, we move away from everyday life. It could be compared to going out to a restaurant: although you can ask for an address, the simple fact of leaving home, changing the environment and having a personalized service is usually very attractive.

Precisely, before the news from Warner Bros. there was a certain discontent that led media such as Tomatazos to think that we are facing "the end of cinema." However, this will most likely never end up happening, for one simple reason: launching movie premieres simultaneously with streaming will not change the room-going experience.

While it improved over the years, the idea of "going to the movies" was based on two main factors: having a premium experience and seeing a premiere. The first has always been maintained since the aforementioned components make it almost impossible to replicate that same experience from your home. However, the second was in doubt for a while.

Thanks to the appearance of the Internet, there was always the possibility to see the premieres almost immediately. Although they were not always in a "decent quality", the fact of being able to access this type of content for free and instantaneously (even in the premieres) did not mean the end of cinema. If everything can be found on the Internet, why isn't the industry over?

For one simple reason: the feeling of going into a theater cannot be compared, even if movies are uploaded in the highest possible quality. While some viewers may be lost, people, when they want to keep going to a room, will, as it is a completely different experience.

What could change is that, precisely, there are films that are not attractive enough to pay a ticket, but that justify watching them from the comfort of home. However, this is something that has always happened: when we pay for a ticket, we usually do it according to our tastes and not a lottery.

That is where, according to Xataka, platforms such as Disney Plus appear, which, due to the coronavirus, was a pioneer in launching the live-action of Mulan exclusively on its service. In other words, a paradigm shift that does not necessarily imply that cinema was going to die. On the contrary: we are given more possibilities so that, as users, we have the freedom to choose how to consume our favorite movies.

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