The war of words between theater chains and streaming services like Netflix has gotten kind of petty. Netflix accused theater chains of forcing their “antiquated windows” while theater chains have said companies like Netflix have already killed the DVD business and now want to eliminate movie theaters as well.
There is no telling which argument will win out here, but the effects have been seen. With the advent of downloading digital movies, the prices of DVDs and Blu-rays have actually risen because studios know that they are becoming more of a collector’s format now with so many people preferring to download a digital copy of a movie to watch on their computer.
There are still people who love to watch movies on their televisions that don’t possess the ability to watch digital downloaded movies on them, and there might be less families who want to watch movies together (and they won’t all gather around a computer to watch The Avengers together anyway). So maybe the digital revolution is making things harder for people who (a) love watching movies on a big TV and (b) people who actually do things with other people in real life. It has made Blu-rays that used to cost $19 now cost anywhere from $24 to $29.
But, back to the original debate in this case. Where digital downloads have hurt DVD sales, the advent of Netflix and Redbox wanting to decrease the theatrical windows does threaten a lot of things. A lot of people would rather spend $2 to watch a movie rather than pay $10 at a theater because it is cheaper and they don’t want to see it in the best way possible. There is also the thought that when more people pay $2 for a Redbox rental and refuse to go to the theater, the movies will make less money and that will mean less movies will be made.
Netflix doesn’t believe that.
“Theater owners stifle this kind of innovation at every turn,” he said. “The reason why we may enter this space and try to release some big movies ourselves this way is because I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution. Not only are they going to kill theaters, they might kill movies.”
So, Netflix feels that if they don’t get to release movies to watch on TV the same day they come out in theaters, it will kill movies. And theaters feel that if Netflix releases movies the same day on TV that they appear in theaters, no one will want to go to the movies anymore.
Is it really that black and white or are both sides overreacting to the situation? Honestly, I think both Netflix and theater owners are highly overestimating the quality of watching a movie on TV compared to actually seeing it in a theater in the manner in which it was meant to be seen. It is cheaper, but it is still just watching television.