Planet of Streaming: The Movie Industry Is Giving the Power to Streaming

Amelia Coleman, Staff Writer

For the first time, many of the biggest movie releases aren’t being shown in theaters. In part because of movie theater closures due to the pandemic, expected blockbusters like Black Widow were released through streaming services such as Disney+. Audio visual production teacher Vanessay Mokry believes the shift has been a long time coming.

“They only make really big movies these days and very, very, small prestige movies that are going to try to get an Oscar,” Mokry said. “Everything else that used to go out in theaters, because that was the only outlet we had, that’s all now taken up with Netflix and streaming and other services like that.”

Prestige movies are movies made by studios to specifically cater to critics over audiences in order to increase the studio’s reputation. According to Mokry, for more traditional blockbuster movies, opening weekend is where a majority of money that a studio makes from a film comes from. 

“We’ve got to shift,” Mokry said. “Now that we have so many screens, there’s so much content. That’s why they only make the really big movies, the sure thing movies, the movies that have IP [intellectual property] built in, and they have a built in audience. The really big movies and movies that were based on books and things that people already love, where they know people will come to the theater and pay the money.”

Mokry believes that movies are meant to get theatrical releases. Mueller Alamo Drafthouse manager Howard Burk agrees.

“People still want to come to movies,” Burk said. “The experience that you get at a movie theater is nothing like watching a movie sitting in your living room. And you can still have a bowl of popcorn on your couch, and you can still have the same people around, but it definitely goes beyond just that the screen is bigger and the audio is bigger. There’s something special about being at the movie theater.”

Streaming has its own benefits, however. Freshman Amari Pandian likes that streaming brings movies into the comfort of a person’s home, even if there are downsides.

“I think that [streaming] closes off movies to people who could previously go to the movies because they don’t have a certain streaming service,” Pandian said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, studios first chose to push back movie releases. Then, the number of theater premieres shrank as studios chose streaming services over theatres for releases. According to Burk, the Alamo Drafthouse switched to curbside catering and private viewing parties of older movies to make up for the lack. 

“Is it creating a challenge for movie theaters in the movie industry? Yes,” Burk said. “But is it going to be something that movie theaters can adapt to? Without a doubt.”