Digitisation is often seen as the enemy to traditional practices. This stands true for cinema. Read on to find out more.

Are Streaming Services and Movie Theaters at Odds?

The Awards season is upon us. It’s the time when films over the last year rear their head again to make you remember how good they were, how you missed some, and how you can’t remember if you watched that one or not, as the yet-to-be released films are making their way through the festival circuit generating buzz and hype. It can be hard to keep up with it all at this time of the year. 

There’s a lot of track. Film titles, directors, and actors, scenes, themes, and memes: there’re many points of interest within discourse. The Academy Awards finishes off the season, and everything builds towards it. It is the end-goal. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple have these prizes in their sights, despite consistent rebuttals and reluctance from the Academy. Have things changed for this year’s Oscars? Are streaming service titles ready to be accepted into the fold and embraced more willingly?

The Rebuttals and Reluctance

The Academy, and other awards ceremonies and festivals, have fought to regulate the properties which streaming services had produced or bought the rights to. They voted to leave a rule unchanged, which required that a film was shown in a Los Angeles movie theatre for a minimum of a week, instead of barring streaming services’ films completely. Steven Spielberg was a notable figure who tried to convince the Academy to vote to ban them. Spielberg wanted streaming services’ work to be recognised by The Emmys TV movies, as opposed to movie movies. 

A movie theatre’s redundancy: this is what inspired the fear of streaming services for many in the industry. With the ubiquity and convenience of streaming services, it was assumed that the cinema would no longer be needed. This is often scaremongering. The same thing has hit other industries, like gaming. 

Online casinos and brick-and-mortar casinos have had a similar feud. Owners of the traditional establishments worried that with gamers having access to readily available options like Genesis casino for example, that customers won’t come through their doors. This hasn’t been the case. Yes, online casinos have thrived, and continue to do so. However, those traditional establishments are still going strong. It’s all about the kind of experience the customer wants and the casino, or cinema, facilitates. There will be business where it’s deserved.

Is There Any Need to Worry?

Streaming services are major players in the visual arts. More competitors have joined the scene, offering their own straight-to-demand options. It’s impossible for major distributors and production companies to ignore these services any longer. In 2020, Wonder Woman 1984 was released in cinemas and streaming services at the same time. It afforded Warner Brothers to cater to both markets. Box office performance exceeded expectations. This may reassure the movie industry. People will still go to the cinema if they have the chance. 

Streaming services will continue to do exclusive deals for certain films. These films, like Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and the Borat Sequel, have often been considered risks, or non-standard, which means the studios would have likely meddled with the final project to cater to the box office. Critics enjoy them – as evidenced by their successful award campaigns – but studios don’t know if they’re worth giving bigger budgets to if they won’t see a return. 

Streaming services, at least definitely in Netflix’s case, tend not to do that. As box office revenue is less of a concern for them, they can purchase rights to riskier films by A-list directors and let them have more creative control. This is where the cinema and streaming services have notable differences, and which could leave cinema goers seeing prestige and critical-darling films in limited runs after their release on streaming services, and leaving the initially exclusive cinema releases to blockbuster films like Godzilla Vs. Kong etc. 


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