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News Article

Cinemas Buckle Under the Weight of the Netflix Empire

Will Hollywood blockbuster-type films continue to use Netflix as their outlet, or will they return to their rightful spot on the big screen?

There’s no feeling that rivals that of entering a cinema. The intoxicating smell of warm, buttery popcorn overtakes your senses and all you can think of is rushing to the counter to hand over all your money in exchange for that heavenly goodness. Muffled sounds escape the inner walls of the theatre. And that’s only when you’ve walked in! I could go on about the excitement of sitting in your seat and watching previews (and naturally, planning your next visit), not to mention the quiet that collectively overtakes the theatre as the lights dim. Keeping this image and the feeling associated with it in mind, I’d like you to imagine the sensation that arises when you’re sprawled on your couch opening the Netflix app. I can guarantee that it’s nowhere near the same.

Now, I’ve spoken generally because I’m assuming anyone reading this has at least attended a cinema once in their life and loved it! If for some reason you haven’t—please go now! Like right when you finish reading this edition of Farrago.

During COVID-19, with the closure of cinemas for several months, people naturally turned to streaming services like Netflix for their weekly (or nightly) movie fix. I definitely found myself using them more than usual. While pre-pandemic, cinemas were able to thrive alongside streaming services because they provided those big blockbusters you simply could not enjoy from home, a trip to the cinemas to enjoy these was no longer an option.

In mid-January, Netflix shared a trailer previewing all the original films they would release this year. This in itself isn’t strange; Netflix has always advertised their original films. What is strange is the number of A-list actors who will star in them. Actors whose appearances were usually strictly limited to the big screen. Regina King, Ryan Reynolds, Dwyane Johnson and Leonardo DiCaprio are few who have lent their talents to the Netflix overlord. Halle Berry and Lin-Manuel Miranda are also directing their first movies to be released as Netflix originals. It’s quite a jump from Broadway royalty for Miranda.

The preview also shared that there would be a new film released every week this year. Netflix has already gained immense popularity and has been unofficially crowned the Queen of streaming services. These upcoming films will allow it to gain further control over much of Hollywood’s well-known talent. There are, of course, thousands of other immensely talented actors who will continue to appear in films intended for theatrical release. But the absence of these stars from the big screen this year will perhaps mean they’ll struggle to return following this shift. History shows that Netflix tends to be quite possessive of their actors. One example is Millie Bobby Brown, who rose to fame on the sci-fi hit Stranger Things and then continued her career with Netflix by starring in their original film, Enola Holmes. This begs the question of whether these actors will continue their career under Netflix’s masterful control or if they will stage a return to the big screen.

The pandemic has not only affected actors in the spotlight, but creatives behind the scenes who work tirelessly to create content. Most creatives didn’t have the luxury of turning on their computers, entering a Zoom meeting, and continuing to work. Though thankfully, some have been able to return to work, countless others have been deprived of the opportunity to do what they love. I only hope that with time their careers will flourish, and their art can be showcased for all to see. For studios who are unable to continue production, many small-budget films will be delayed, which means that one of the primary studios employing workers will be Netflix. As the dominant streaming service, Netflix will hold the power to release what they want and ignore smaller budget films where perhaps more heart and passion has been invested. I wonder how everything will unfold when things eventually ‘return to normal’. Australia’s entertainment industry is slowly recovering from the pandemic, but the majority of America is still in lockdown and therefore unable to attend their local cinema. Given this decrease in attendance, Hollywood is likely to continue creating straight-to-streaming films, thus perpetuating this cycle and reducing the number of films made for cinema.

Will Hollywood blockbuster-type films continue to use Netflix as their outlet, or will they return to their rightful spot on the big screen?

I know that regardless of the outcome, cinemas will continue to operate as long as there is new content—be it a blockbuster or a Sundance indie film. Visiting a cinema is an unmatched experience. People will flock to cinemas, as they’ve done for decades. They’ll go because it’s a place to escape. A place to fall in love with the magic of film—a magic that frankly, Netflix will never possess.

 
Farrago's magazine cover - Edition Four 2022

EDITION FOUR 2022 AVAILABLE NOW!

Saddle up! Farrago’s brand spanking new edition is here! It’s jam-packed with art, photography, news, non-fiction and creatice writing; and it calls on you to “be the cowboy.” “But what does that mean?” you ask. Well, let the wise words of Mitski guide you… ”What would a swaggering cowboy riding into town do in this situation?”

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