While the Motion Picture Association Of America was ready to greet Netflix’s movie studio productions into their community at this year’s CinemaCon, many in Hollywood are not. Steven Spielberg compared it to TV movies (which by the way some have been released in theaters first over the years as far back as the 1970s, inspired movies even if they’re usually not-stalgia or mockstalgia these days, as well as TV shows inspired by movies) while actress Helen Mirren slammed them hard, insisting that the theatrical experience is somehow damaged because Netflix only keeps their movies in theaters a short time compared to other studios before putting them on their service.
Here’s a question I have: where were these two when the movie theater was putting drive-in theaters out of business and killing that experience? To me this is more Hollywood elitist snobbery. For most people the theater experience has been damaged by rude people on their cellphones or acting like they’re making the Rifftrax, high prices for tickets and snacks when they’re already struggling to make ends meet and have a limited entertainment budget if one at all, and really long movies that people have to miss part of to use the restroom. (That happens to me often.) I love the movie theater and wish I could go more often, but I do understand those who would rather sit at home on their widescreen TVs with a DVD or Blu-Ray library they can go into at any moment over and over for a one-time cost, or a streaming service for the price of a movie they can only see once and one of. Someone in the comments of that second link also noted that theaters are not fun for people who don’t live near one or suffer from hearing loss (if not full-on deafness) and can’t find a theater with captions or get their wheelchairs into a seat. The theatrical experience isn’t the same for them as it is for Spielberg and Mirren, who may have their own theaters at home (especially Spielberg) or at least access to one that is in better shape and with a crowd who caters to their way of thinking. They want to protect that old status symbol of theatrical movies (as long as they aren’t animated) but the general public is tired of it.
Maybe the theaters will become like the drive-ins, a niche experience continued by those who remember the glory days and want to relive them or check them out but otherwise get their entertainment elsewhere. It’s not as easy to go out these days as it used to be when people are struggling to feed their families. The entertainment budget is smaller than it is for the Hollywood elitists who seem more worried about losing their status symbol experience rather than entertain.