So, what exactly is a movie these days? What exactly is a TV show? Is it the running time? Where it airs? When it airs? The distinctions and considerations that used to separate stories are becoming more and more ambiguous by the day, and just about everyone in the entertainment industry is trying to figure out how to deal with these changing times.
Over the last decade, newly formed companies have been creating thousands of hours of Original Content in forms of movies and television (some streamed exclusively on the web), forcing other established brands to follow their lead. For many of them, this has opened an entirely new avenue on how to connect with audiences young and old, and even allows for new types of content to be specifically targeted towards viewing groups who may not have been catered towards in the past (not to mention attempting, successfully or not, re-introducing/rebooting older IP in sleek and interesting new ways).
Due to the massive aggregation of subscription fees piling up in front of them, companies of all kinds are allowed to create HUGE budget shows that could never have existed if not for the changes in technology today. Which, honestly, is incredibly exciting. Zero chance a show like ‘The Boys’ could have existed in the way it does today (that goes for the mature content and the massive undertaking it must have been to create a visibly passable superhero story in 2019). That goes for radically different shows like ‘Stranger Things’, ‘The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’, and ‘Good Omens’ as well. But the element that’s connecting them together, thanks to this new technology and business models, is the niche audiences who will watch. It’s so cool I can’t even wrap my mind around it.
These changes don’t come without detractors, though. There are many in the film community who are voicing their concerns about what “streaming” does to “cinema” (whatever that is). By virtually eliminating the exclusivity of talent, special effects, and attention once held only by theatrical movies, you can watch Hollywood-level storytelling on any device, at any time, from multiple outlets, not just at the movie theater. The race has been in motion for a few years now, and things are starting to get competitive, which leads to a lot of the people who held or hold positions in traditional media to get a little understandably bitter about this whole thing. Makes sense, honestly, because now movies aren’t even movies anymore. Well, obviously “technically” they are, but what is it then? Anything over 75 minutes? Everything is becoming “content” now, and to some that cheapens the art form, but to many, it opens up new possibilities.
Entire campaigns for these massive shows now have the money and attention to detail only reserved for the most pristine of productions. Now we even have shows aimed for YA audiences that have expansive lore, great special effects, and halfway decent acting, all with fanbases ready to compare to previous entries of the same genre from other companies. The box has opened, and there’s really no going back to traditional television or exclusively theatrical presentation, so distributors are basically dared daily to make the next best thing that will attract some type of attention. If not, everyone is off to something else already.
In times like these in this industry, you need to keep an open mind. Every single minute, people from all over the world upload thousands of hours of video media to Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook. It’s tough to accept, but “cinema” is no longer reserved for the theaters, and Academy Award-winning actors and filmmakers are making “smart career moves” by joining web shows. Everything is so bizarre, but times are always gonna change, and people will always want to hear stories. So don’t panic! Alarmists raise some valid points about the sanctity of what movies are (and maybe used to be in some respects), but great stories will always live in one way or another. Businesses and creators have always been using new technologies to tell stories that move and connect with audiences, it’s just about the production and the intent. Those who take full advantage of how amazing these opportunities are, are going to be the ones who come out on top. So act fast and get creative, it’s getting crowded out there!