From buying a ticket to lounging on a couch: How streaming services snuck up on the movie industry


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Netflix, one of the many streaming options, has recently announced that their 2021 film slate will guarantee at least a movie a week for 2021.

Rachel Rosenfield, Senior Editor

Seeing a movie used to be a big deal. People would dress up to catch the newest showing, with movie theatres few and far between. Over time, more movie theatres came to be which turned seeing a movie into a casual outing.

Then came video stores, which completely changed the game. People could go out and rent or buy the movie and then have the ability to watch from the comfort of their homes. They took over the power to pause the movie if necessary and to talk as loud as they want. What could be better? 

The streaming services, which took everything a step further. 

Going out no longer has to be a part of seeing a movie. People can pick the movie from their home, and watch it right then and there. An extravagant event has turned into a way to kill a lazy Sunday. And it does not look like the power of the streaming service will end anytime soon.

The beauty of streaming services is that for a monthly fee, people have access to thousands of movies, with new ones being released all of the time. Not to mention the variety of streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and many more. In times like these, it is terrific – and necessary – to have these options. 

Because of the pandemic, many public places have been forced to shut down at the risk of people contracting coronavirus. This includes movie theatres. Not all movie theatres in the United States are closed, with some media reports saying close to three-fourths have reopened, but the majority of the big movie theatre chains have shut down their theatres for the safety of the people. 

In the past, the closure of theaters might have caused a problem. It could have been the death of new movies. In the 2020s, this is not even close to being an issue. 

Access to new movies is available at the press of a button. From big blockbusters to Oscar-worthy dramas, it is all here, in our family room, our bedrooms, on our computers and televisions. Movies have been given the gift of convenience without sacrificing the entertainment value.

According to a January report by Statista, “78 percent of consumers in the United States were using a subscription video on demand service in 2020, an increase of more than 25 percent in four years.” Netflix reported passing the 60 million mark for U.S. subscribers in 2019 and passed 73 million by the end of 2020, according to Statista, with 203.67 million worldwide subscribers.

The value of the streaming service has been recognized worldwide, and it has led to some important decisions that will affect the movie industry deeply. Recently, Warner Brothers announced their entire 2021 movie slate will be released in theatres, while simultaneously being released on HBO Max. From Matrix 4, the highly anticipated fourth movie of the billion dollar Matrix franchise, to In the Heights, the movie adaptation to the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winning musical by Lin Manuel Miranda, there will be something for everyone. 

Many Warner Brothers movies were expected to make a lot of money at the box office, but Warner Brothers understands how huge streaming services have become. They understand that releasing a movie in theatres might not be the best option for 2021, as many people are forced to stay inside. Now, people can get access to some of the hottest new movies for fifteen dollars a month. This demonstrates the streaming service dominance in these strange times.

It does not stop there. Netflix has recently announced that their 2021 film slate will guarantee at least a movie a week for 2021. This includes Malcolm and Marie, a sharp drama that was one of the first movies filmed during the pandemic and has already generated Oscar buzz, as well as Kissing Booth 3, the final installment of one of Netflix’s most successful movie franchises and has taken the tween and teen world by storm. These are two of many movies already announced, and it is possible that even more movies could be announced later this year. This is on top of the hundreds of movies that Netflix already offers. 

People are given choice and convenience when it comes to what movie to watch. These can be easy distractions from the craziness happening outside of their home. All streaming services have been offering wide selections so that entertainment will never be far away.

This may appear to be a happily-ever-after for the streaming services, but what about the movie theatres? Is their moment in the spotlight gone forever? 

Currently, people are unable to go to most movie theatres because of social distancing restrictions, but even before the pandemic, movie theatres were on the way out. 

The theatres did have some movies released before they went to streaming services, they had the delicious albeit pricey snacks, and they had movies appearing on a big screen. Despite those qualities, it is hard to beat watching movies from the comfort of a soft well-worn couch or bed, and not having to pay on a movie-by-movie basis. Even if a movie comes to theatres first, the comfort makes it worth the wait for movies to come to people’s homes. It will probably be a while before all movie theatres are open, but at this point, people may not feel the need to have them back. 

It has already been almost a year since the coronavirus caused much of social society to shut down and people still have many new movies available. There are purists who feel that some films are meant to be on the big screen and those people will make up a large chunk of the people who will return to the theatres when the doors are open. However, people have become used to the lifestyle of not having to leave their home and having the option of thousands of movies with only a couple of monthly fees. In the battle between streaming services and movie theatres, it seems that streaming is coming out on top, and it will stay on top for a long time.

And now – what to watch next?