Has the Internet Forever Doomed the Silver Screen?

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21 Jan 19

Many of us can recall heading off to the cinema with our parents.  The anticipation, the experience of purchasing a tub of popcorn and the thrill of previews have provided us with indelible memories and these can never be replaced by any other form of digital media.  Still, generations are changing. Not only have the movies become incredibly expensive, but many consumers are opting for the conveniences associated with streaming online platforms such as Netflix. This has led some to wonder if the day will ever come when we see the demise of the traditional theatre.  Indeed, many venues have closed over the past 20 years and such a trend might continue. However, will we witness the demise of the silver screen as a whole in favour of online alternatives? Let’s first take a look at why the online film community has grown so fast before moving on to discuss the power of the physical cinema.

The Rise of Streaming Films

The concept of streaming films has existed for some time and it is ironic to note that some of the major industry players failed to realise its importance. One perfect example can be seen in the fall of Blockbuster rentals. Beginning in the early 21st century, the needs of consumers were changing. The notion of online movie rentals seemed slight far fetched and yet, it was already on the horizon.  The main pitfall was that streaming speeds were measured in kilobytes as opposed to megabytes. As a result, downloading or live streaming was difficult at best. This all changed with the introduction of broadband Internet serves and later, through fibre optic connectivity.  It was now possible to watch high-definition films from the comfort of one’s own home.

As a result, many players became involved in the industry.  While larger organisations such as Netflix had already carved out their niche markets, even smaller websites tried to cash in on profits by introducing portals which would provide instantaneous rentals to customers from around the world.  This type of enterprise ecommerce platform was certainly advanced in terms of architecture, but will it ever replace the theatre itself?

Here to Stay (if not Slightly Muted)

The fact of the matter is that the physical cinema will always hold an appeal to viewers; regardless of the generation.  While it is now possible to rent a 4K HD movie with the click of a button, the experiences associated with heading out to the movies can never be replaced.  This is particularly the case with families and couples. The main stumbling block involves the prices associated with the tickets (not to mention the cost of concessions).  This is why theatres which want to compete against the online community will need to adapt their pricing structures accordingly. Still, there is no doubt that the cinema is here to stay in one form or another.  However, it is just as important to recognise the role of streaming Internet services.