Are streaming services ruining movie theatres?

Streaming is a beautiful thing. We can access content, old and new, wherever and whenever we want (provided your employer doesn’t mind the occasional binge break). New content is constantly created and it’s actually wonderful watching all the platforms compete for the next best show or movie, as viewers we are the winners with better and better content constantly outdoing the last.

But what about designating time specifically to watching the latest flick? What about a movie being a social outing? When your dinner time revolved around the scheduled time of the movie theatre. Remember? It feels less familiar. So the question is, have the streaming services started to kill movie theatres?  

This happened to be something we were discussing at CnC HQ recently and decided to put together our two cents. We then discovered it seems to be a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and fortunately enabled us to find some juicy stats. Inside Film have also just released an article on the topic, so while we may be slightly behind, it’s been good to retrieve some sweet facts about the supposed war.

It does feel like we are going to the movies less frequently and it does seem like we can’t use the “I’ll wait for it to come out” excuse more. We aren’t waiting for a DVD release to rent from VideoEzy (for one moment, please reflect on these days… ah the nostalgia), but the amount of content we watch overall is making the comparison murky.

Because we watch more new and personally selected content in total (outside of Free To Air TV), it feels as though the cinema is less frequented. But in reality how often did you ever go to the movies? Once a month? Once a week? For us it hasn’t actually changed that much, it just feels as though streaming as impacted it because we just simply watch that much more stuff. It’s no longer saved for date night or sleepover night.

So, on very hasty assessment you might say yes, streaming is ruining movie theatres. But when you look at the aforementioned juicy stats it’s surprisingly on the contrary. In fact, there’s a theory that streaming is actually encouraging more movie going.

According to the Washington Post “Movie-ticket revenue in the United States has risen 8 percent in 2018. That puts the industry on track for the largest year-to-year increase of the domestic box office in nearly a decade — and suggests that, surprisingly, theaters can more than hold their own in the age of widespread at-home entertainment…”

In Australia the box-office rose by 3.6 per cent to $1.245 billion, the second biggest year behind 2016, despite the average ticket price dropping from $14.13 to $13.86 due to discounting (Inside Film).

Research has shown that the more people are streaming, the more movie tickets they buy so it appears the platforms are complementing each other and growing together. While most of the box office sales are coming from the seriously large franchises like Marvel, this in itself almost confirms the survival of movie theatres. People want to watch these films on the big screen, it’s just not the same in your living room. Unless you own a theatre room and in which case you can apparently support the film industry yourself (so please, in the meantime head here #makeitaustralian).

But theatre’s cannot survive on the release of only a handful of films a year. There needs to be consistency in their box office returns.

What we need to see is an increase in the smaller and even indie films being supported at the movie theatre. In a recent interview Stephen Spielberg proclaimed he doesn’t want Netflix films to be eligible for awards like Oscars. “Netflix films can be eligible for Oscars as long as they let it run in theatres for at least one week before putting it on their site.” (Source Geeks.Media ‘Is cinema dying at the hands of Netflix?) As emerging Casting Directors, we would have to agree. We can’t deny it’s hugely satisfying to see your name appear in the credits on the big screen and you can’t deny there is something magical about the movie theatre experience that cannot be replaced by small screens.

It would be a massive cultural loss to say goodbye to theatres, and unfortunately they can’t be sustained on poor box office returns. So go out and support films in cinemas that aren’t your big superhero or animated films and be sure to show love for our brilliant local Aussie films making it to the big screen!