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You Can’t Stream the Movie Theater Experience

Image result for jaws movie theater

Netflix and Oscars Update:

In concert with yesterday’s article here on Jimmy’s Daily Planet that focused on Steven Spielberg’s thoughts regarding the necessity for all Oscar-eligible films to remain within the traditional parameters of a traditional theatrical release, the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences has determined that Rule Two — which involves a film’s eligibility for winning — will favor streaming services moving forward in so many words.

The Academy’s Board of Governors voted to maintain Rule Two, Eligibility for the 92nd Oscars. The rule states that to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission. Motion pictures released in nontheatrical media on or after the first day of their Los Angeles County theatrical qualifying run remain eligible.

That’s a major win for streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. Take ‘Roma’ by director Alfonso Cuarón that streamed on Netflix that won three Oscars at this year’s ceremony:

  • Best Director
  • Best Foreign Language Film
  • Best Cinematography

The argument is not about quality — which ‘Roma’ has — but more about quality of experience. I am a fan of Netflix. It’s a great service for TV and film. But let’s face facts that most people multi-task (or are at least tempted to) with convenient streaming services like Netflix that very easily takes away from the pure movie watching experience. It’s also crucial that Hollywood ensures that all eligible films are having to play by the same rules for the same grand, life-changing prize. As Mr. Spielberg noted yesterday in the New York Times, the theatrical experience must be maintained for the biggest movies of the year. He is 100% right. The Academy’s progressive move towards the “future of TV” is a slippery slope that will exert pain on movie theaters in big cities and small towns alike in the short and long term.

Academy President John Bailey expressed sympathy for the theatrical experience yet fell short with a sanitized non-answer answer for his conclusion.

“We support the theatrical experience as integral to the art of motion pictures, and this weighed heavily in our discussions. Our rules currently require theatrical exhibition and also allow for a broad selection of films to be submitted for Oscars consideration. We plan to further study the profound changes occurring in our industry and continue discussions with our members about these issues.”

–Academy President John Bailey

In other words, Mr. Bailey supports counting the dollar bills from streaming services.

There is nothing wrong with movie studios and the Academy making lots of money. That’s a good thing if they put out a good product that people want to buy. However, the problem is refusing to take the right, principled stand of where we sit for the best films being released in the future:

Are we on our couch watching a summer blockbuster on our TV or cell phone or laptop? Or are we in a dark, crowded movie theater with strangers for an unforgettable movie experience that simultaneously defines our lives and popular culture with cinematic game-changers like ‘Jaws,’ ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Inception’?

It costs a lot of money to invest, produce and ultimately release a major motion picture. Creating short cuts in this process will cut short what movies mean for us and movie studios moving forward.

Netflix contributed to the downfall of the Blockbuster movie store chain early in the 21st century, transforming the origin of the movie watching experience at home from an excitingly extroverted in-store search and interaction to the introverted in-house mail service. Now it seems the Academy and streaming services like Netflix have its eyes on revolutionizing the summer blockbuster by way of the information superhighway.

When it comes to the Academy of Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences debating issues like Rule Two, movie theaters are gonna need a bigger vote.

Lightsabers: On

May the force be with us all…in one year.

This is the first teaser trailer for the J.J. Abrams-directed movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It just might be kind of popular when it arrives in movie theaters next December.

Star Wars may be a story of good v. evil, but the trailer above is unequivocally good!

Walking into a Movie (Literally)

For some, 3D is a difficult entertainment medium to endure. It’s completely understandable. Still, for those who do or can enjoy the three dimensional interactive movie-watching experience, what’s exciting is thinking what could be coming to a theater near you in the not so distant future…

Just contemplating how awesome seeing “Gravity” in IMAX 3D will be, it stirred up a wild and crazy idea. Though it has been done before at theme parks to some degree, imagine movie theaters that, for special screenings or major premiers of particular movies, are customized to the sounds, sights and settings of the anticipated blockbuster movie.

For example: say that for “Jurassic Park,” the theater showing this epic film in 4D would be decorated like the jungle and compound of Isla Nublar with a few surprises for the moviegoers. As opposed to strictly sitting and watching the movie, a 4D screening would provide the audience with more of an experience, while not detracting from the cinematic storytelling on-screen.

In this reality, the audience would truly transport to the world of the specific movie. Maybe a little wind, mist, ground shaking, or mysterious breathing from a prehistoric creature…

The theater set design would need to flow from the major studio for authenticity, effectiveness and creativity, but the possibilities for certain movies could redefine the power (and feel) of certain blockbusters.

If you’ve been to a theme park and gone on a ride based on a popular movie, imagine that experience but slightly toned down and/or customized for a movie theater. What’s paramount is not to disrupt or distract from the storytelling and acting, but simply to enhance and to gently play with our senses. Immersion is the key to this concept.

It’s important to note that movie theaters are already expensive, as has been mentioned in this blog previously. The cost from production studios to achieve this groundbreaking dynamic may be difficult, but if there is a way that this kind of promotion could give the movie and the studios a great return on investment (plus fan satisfaction), then surely they will quickly adopt the spirit of “why not?”

If this can be accomplished, then is there really anything holding the movie industry back in the future?

Talk about a break from the constraints of cinematic gravity.

The sky really could be the limit…and not just for Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.