Why streaming is not the same as the cinema

Benjamin Haylett, Arts & Leisure Editor

For better or for worse, Hollywood is back to releasing movies with the frequency of the pre-pandemic times. What is interesting for the average movie goer is the method of delivery.
The big studios dabbled over the past couple months in releasing movies to little fanfare as on-demand titles, but now that a new deal has been inked between Warner Bros. and HBO, we are going to be seeing many more dual releases from now on. As the numerous YouTube ads that I have seen tell me, for the entire year of 2021, all Warner Bros. movies will be released simultaneously in theaters and on HBOMax at no additional cost to subscribers.
This revelation seems like a double-edged sword for many movie lovers. On one hand, it is now going to be much easier to watch new releases as they come out. Instead of making a trip to the theater and paying an exorbitant amount of money for tickets and popcorn, we can now just sit at home and enjoy the films we want to watch with a subscription that many people already have. On the other hand, there is a certain amount of mystique that is lost when you don’t have to make your way to the movie theater. Part of the reason that people have been willing to pay an arm and a leg to see a movie in the theater is the experience of the theater itself.
While it is certainly cheaper and more convenient to see a movie at home, there is a magic to seeing something on the big screen that is hard to replicate in the living room. But the law of the land dictates that if something is easier for people to do, they will do it, and this may spell doom for the already failing chains of theaters around the country. Don’t get me wrong, I am planning on taking full advantage of my girlfriend’s family HBOMax account to see new movies, but I do hope that this knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic doesn’t mean that it’s going to be hard to take my future children to the movies.
The point about not costing subscribers any more money definitely comes across as a direct jab at the Disney+ model of releasing new movies, where they charge an extra fee to see the latest release. This was something that subscribers were willing to do for the live-action release of “Mulan,” but I can see that getting old very quickly, especially considering that a major part of the Disney+ consumer base includes people around our age who don’t have two pennies to rub together on a good day.
However you look at it, there is definitely a bright side to all of this, and that is movies are finally being released again. It has been a strange and stressful year to begin with, but as a person who normally saw a new movie in the theaters every week to do my reviews, it’s nice to be able to see new films again. I didn’t realize what a vacuum that left in my life, and I’m glad it’s getting filled again. Even if it is slightly different from what I’m used to.



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