Streaming and Cinema


Kyle Bridston, Writer

The rise of streaming services has had a variety of effects on movies, which has resulted in many different opinions on the issue of streaming services being used for movie releases. Part of the controversy is the possibility that movie theaters will become obsolete. Another concern is that the level of care placed into movies will decline as the demand for new content on streaming services increases to remain relevant. On the other hand, smaller films gain more attention through streaming services than they would through a theater release alone, and blockbusters are, for the most part, unaffected. Then, with the “middle-level” of film that only make a medium amount of money, the production value may decline since those types of films are less marketable.

Streaming services have had a great impact on many smaller films, providing easy access to those movies. Oftentimes, they receive a larger audience than what they would have received through releasing only in theaters. Furthermore, streaming services provide easy access to films from different countries that would not have been released in certain countries. For instance, the Criterion Collection created a streaming service in 2019 after years of keeping its content on other streaming services. Their selection of film varies from the classics of the Golden Age of Hollywood to multicultural films. They have specially curated collections on their streaming service, including “Afrofuturism,” curated by Ashley Clark, “Female Gaze,” “Japanese Noir,” “Voices of Protest,” and “Queersighted: Class Acts” by Michael Koresky. The Criterion Channel is one of the prime examples of making smaller and lesser known films more accessible. They, more so than other streaming services, uplift minority groups and filmmakers to share their stories and the movies that shaped them.

With the benefits that come with streaming services, there are also many downsides and criticisms. One such criticism is that the accessibility streaming provides makes movies less significant. In her article, “How Streaming Makes Movies Mean Less,” Alison Willmore states that the audience of a movie has always been important, but now there is a “constantly escalating competition for attention,” that is being influenced by “the pressures of algorithm-based recommendations.” Essentially, a large sum of the movies being produced and released on streaming services are made to be as basic and universal as possible in order to reach the largest of audiences. The movies that often fit into this category, such as romantic comedies, likely will not ever become obsolete, but their quality, popularity, and originality will continue to decline. With the demand that comes with streaming services, filmmaking has become about quantity rather than quality, and economic value over originality. Even the larger scale movies that have come out in the past few years have also focused on pleasing audiences without having much depth to their stories.

It is an undeniable fact that streaming services have changed the film industry. There are two opposite opinions about the topic, with some viewing this change as being beneficial for the future of movies, especially older or more obscure movies. However, with the high demand of movies that is occurring, there is a concern that the quality and passion behind movies will decline. Mainstream movies are more likely to have large audiences with their theater releases, but certain films will suffer more due to the fact that they may be more financially risky.