Cinema vs Streaming – What does the audience really want?

Recently, a whole series of arguments were spilling all over the internet on something quite interesting. A hotly debated topic that sure is bound to divide a lot of people is the whole point of whether cinemas are the best or streaming is better. It is intriguing, to say the least, and deals with a lot of things from the experience of watching a movie to the whole point of enjoying it with your own creature comforts.

Did streaming kill the cinema industry?

Trolls: World Tour Poster

Where did this all start? Well, it’s been going for a long time. It’s no secret that streaming has boomed in the last few years, with everyone now having (or claiming to have) a Netflix account. The success of Netflix effectively eliminated the DVD industry, with DVD rental stores now being a thing of the past. So, considering that streaming has already killed off other media services, what is it doing to cinemas? Cinema attendance fell continually throughout the 2010s, so a decline has been ever-present for the last few years, but the COVID-19 pandemic created a massive hit to the industry. The fact that cinemas had to spend so much time closed meant that revenue was absolutely decimated for not only the cinema chains themselves, but also production companies that provided the movies.

In fact, it’s the production companies that started the current wave of problems and hot debates. This can all be traced to last April when the pandemic was truly taking hold. Universal Pictures announced that some of its movies would release directly to streaming sites, instead of being delayed until a later time to release conventionally in theatres. This would start with “Trolls: World Tour”, which released on the 10th of April, both in a small number of cinemas and directly to on-demand streaming. This has caused quite a stir and reaction from cinemas, in fact, AMC, the owners of the Odeon Cinema chain, declared that all Universal Pictures movies would not be shown in their theatres as long as Universal released directly to on-demand simultaneously with theatres.

So what’s to take from these corporate disputes?

Ideally, we try and take advantage of the situation. The thing is, this situation, for the most part, benefitted us during the lockdowns. Since production companies wanted to maximise profits in trying times, they tried to reach us in a different way, one that was more adapted to the situation. Streaming services have become vital to many people stuck working indoors as a way to while away the time. To say that the pricing of the vast array of streaming services springing up is controversial is an understatement, with many opting to go back to online piracy to obtain the movies and shows they want to watch. “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ was no exception, being last year’s most pirated series.

AMC and their subsidiary Odeon, who retailed against Universal Pictures

However, what about the cinema experience? It’s no secret that watching a movie at the cinema itself is different from just watching it on a TV or computer. In fact, it’s arguably more complete, with better effects from both a bigger screen and cinema-style surround sound enabling a more enthralling and vivid adventure. The biggest downside is the whole process of actually going to the cinema, not everyone has a cinema room in their home, so they have to get out and go there, which to be fair, isn’t the best of ideas during a pandemic. Then there are the prices. Yes, streaming services are pricy, but cinema tickets have been becoming steadily pricier. Then there’s the whole problem of actually having to go back home afterward, which hardly is as comfortable as just switching off your TV and curling up in bed.

It’s definitely hard to choose between the two. The comforts of streaming at home are amazing but the immersion of watching a film at the cinema is equally enticing. From our end, we’d recommend a mix of both, leave the proper blockbusters or the ones you’re excited about for the cinema, in order to truly enjoy and appreciate the movie. Whereas at the same time don’t be afraid to enjoy the comforts of home cinema, after all, home is where the heart is.


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