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  • Erin English

The Future of Cinema and The Growing Trend of Subscription Services

At the moment, a simple trip to the cinema seems like a hopeful glow amongst the dismay of postponed trips and social events. There is an undeniable nostalgia about walking up the carpeted aisle and sliding into your seat with a bucket of popcorn in hand. A nostalgia that many cinemagoers to feel once again as they pile in for the premiere of much-anticipated films. However, with the rapid closure of cinemas across the nation and the rise of streaming platforms that make new films accessible from the comfort of your own home. Could the final credits be rolling on this historic past-time?

The influence of the cinema can be felt from its origins in 1895, used to provide a cheap form of entertainment to the masses. Since then, the idea of going to the movie house has become a common past-time for many. A past-time that progressed in popularity during the 20th century. With the 1950s seeing an insurgence in drive-in cinemas, a place where the community could socialise as well as enjoy a film from the comfort of their vehicle. Although, the cinema’s primary intention was to provide entertainment. For many, a trip to the cinema has been a staple social outing. Whether it be going to see a film with your family and friends or for a date, there can be many memories attached to going to see a flick.

Nevertheless, what was once such a loved past-time seems to be losing traction amongst modern society. With mass cinema closures occurring throughout the United Kingdom, numbers only worsened by the ongoing pandemic. Notable movie theatres such as Cineworld announced the closure of all their U.K and Ireland branches. Following, a three-billion-pound revenue loss following the pandemic. A time when many relied on streaming services for their tv and film fix, with many platforms purchasing the rights to newly released films. Such as Sky doing a cinema release of ‘Emma’ along with Disney’s decision to skip a cinema release and promote the live-action Mulan on their streaming service, Disney Plus, in exchange for a one-time purchase. With these closures in mind, is it time to consider that streaming services are taking over the movie houses as the primary setting for mass entertainment?

Although streaming services like Netflix have been around since 2007, the initial buzz around such platforms did not take off until recent years. With services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus quickly becoming a household name. These applications are even embedded within modern televisions. An advancement that meant streaming services could be accessed with a mere click of your remote. Due to the nationwide lockdown, these streaming services saw a 71 percent increase in viewing along with a 4.6 million membership increase in the United Kingdom alone.

In recent years, the cost of a trip to the cinema has soared rapidly. With the average cost for two people to attend the cinema being 40 pounds, with admission to a film and snacks. This price would allow you 3 months access to a streaming platform, where a range of movie and tv-shows can be watched at a time which suits their lifestyle. Streaming services are constantly adding new films and television series. Utilizing their popularity to stream older content alongside the new. This advantage is recognised by these platforms which have begun to create production companies, a move that means streaming services can develop exclusive film and television shows for their audiences.

Considering both arguments, has the modern streaming service eradicated trips to the cinema? Or are there still advantages of heading to your local cinema chain to watch the latest film?

Advantages of the Cinema:

- Escapism: a trip to the cinema can provide people with a much-needed break from the fast-paced society.

- Social Outing: the cinema provides a day out where all members of the family can get involved, along with giving friends space to spend time together.

- Atmosphere: The big screen, the sound, and the picture are proven to enhance the viewer's experience of a film. Increasing the audience’s emotive response to the film.

Disadvantages of the Cinema:

- High Costs: The cinema can no longer be viewed as an affordable day out with the average cost of a ticket being just under ten pounds.

- Uncomfortable: Being at the cinema is more restrictive than being in the comfort of your own home.

- No pause or rewind: In the split second that you run out to the loo or to get another snack, you have missed the big plot twist of the movie.

Advantages of Streaming Services:

- Adaptable: Being able to adapt your viewing to your lifestyle is a major advantage, especially in such a fast-paced society.

- Cheaper: Although there is a monthly fee, streaming services are a lot cheaper than a trip to the cinema. Eliminating the costs of travel, tickets, and snacks.

- Variety: Unlike the cinema, streaming services offer a range of films and series. Meaning that audiences can in whatever they fancy.

Disadvantages of Streaming Services:

- Isolating: Streaming content does not allow the same sense of community that a trip to the cinema enables.

- Lazy: Studies have shown that having endless content at the touch of a button limits an individual’s productivity. Instead of completing work or tasks, people are chasing to endlessly binge film.

- Unemployment: With the shift from cinemas to online services, a lot of the jobs of theatre workers are put in danger. Evident through the mass unemployment of many working within the arts sector.

Consequently, with the rise of online streaming services and the shift with many production companies aiming to release their films digitally rather than in the cinema. For example, Amazon Prime’s purchase of MGM. There is an undeniable change in the world of cinema and film consumption. With the closure of cinemas and theatres across the nation. Along with the preference to view films from home rather than the movie theatre. The future of cinema seems doomed.

However, the atmosphere created by a trip to the cinema seems to be the most appealing attribute to audiences. With the big screen and surround sound that encapsulates audiences and provides escapism in such a fast society. While the progression from cinema to digital streaming services seems inevitable in such a technological world. The public’s longing for the reopening of cinema highlights the nostalgia and comfort which theatres provide the public. It seems that audiences aren’t willing to see the curtain close on cinemas just yet.

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