Welcome to the Streaming War

Could Streaming Movies at Home Kill the Theater Industry?

In times of social distancing, the movie industry has fallen back onto releasing films on streaming services as the alternative. However, this decision could have devastating effects on the movie theater experience forever.

Since the Safe at Home order has been put in place, the number of students who have streamed movies online has increased at an exponential rate. With more time on their hands, streaming services offer a lot in regards to weekly entertainment.

“Before ‘quarantine,’ I would stream probably one movie a week,” junior Darren Chiu said. “After ‘quarantine,’ I stream about five movies a week.”

Studios have been releasing movies that were initially set for theaters onto various streaming services to make a profit. Films like “Onward,” “The Invisible Man,” “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn,” “The Gentlemen” and “Bloodshot” that were not as financially successful upon release in theaters have now earned more money past their theater gross on streaming. This has increased revenue for big studios and gives people more options while staying at home.

“I have watched a few movies that were moved from theaters to streaming. I think that after quarantine not many people will go to the theaters because they will be scared of another outbreak and streaming will become even more popular,” Chiu said.

As people continue to support movies that were released in theaters that have come to online streaming, studios are experimenting with avoiding the theater experience all-together and releasing their films straight to the online market. On April 10, Dreamworks Animation and Universal Pictures released “Trolls: World Tour,” previously slated for its opening in theaters that weekend but instead made available for 48 hours with a price tag of $20. “Trolls: World Tour” was an instant hit, grossing an estimated total of $80 million in just 10 days.

“Since everyone is stuck at home and [don’t] have much to do, people are desperate for new ways to entertain their kids,” alumna Maddie Brown said. “‘Trolls: World Tour’ was the perfect way to have them watch something new.”

Family movies may be the primary target of studios, as “Despicable Me” replaced “Tiger King” as the number one streamed movie on Netflix the weekend of April 10. Other film studios noticed this trend and are following it, as both Disney’s “Artemis Fowl” will be released straight to Disney+ on May 29 and Warner Brothers Picture’s “Scoob!” will be released on VOD May 15 instead of its theatrical release.
Despite this conversion to digital, some students see this time away from the theater as beneficial to the theater industry, as separation may cause a greater desire to return to the big screen.

“I actually think it will help theaters after quarantine,” junior Jackson Finch said. “More people will want to go to a theater with their friends after quarantine. I think after the quarantine is lifted there will be a surge in people wanting to go to a movie theater.”

For some students the movie theater isn’t just a place to view the latest films, it is also a chance to connect with friends.

“I prefer going to a theater because you get more of an intimate experience,” Finch said. “You get the whole experience of getting popcorn and candy and you get to go with your friends, versus, watching a movie at home just doesn’t feel as fun.”

Whether it be online or in the theater, one thing is for certain, movies are not going away anytime soon.

“I will always prefer the theater experience because it is a time where friends can get together and have a good time,” senior Ethan Land said. “You can have fun, you can grab popcorn, you get the great sound system and the biggest action. You feel the movie. Sure, streaming is nice, but if you want a movie to live up to its fullest potential, you see it in the theater.”