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HBO Max streaming controversy - Christopher Nolan versus Warner


Andrew Reid
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What impact did closing the video rental shops have on movies? 20 years ago I would rent about 5 movies a week. Suddenly all video rental businesses closed up shop because TV line companies were offering renting out movies over digital TV boxes. (Since then only rented about 5 movies in 20 years, it really took out the experience for me)

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2 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

Add up the total box office revenue for those 30 films. Streaming will not pay out.

This isn't about streaming being evil and multiplex experience being great. Actually it has left a lot to be desired for a long time and is overpriced.

Streaming is great.

But it cannot come at the expense of cinema culture, independent cinemas, art-house cinemas, and millions of jobs. That's what is on the line now.

[...]

These are all important points, as well as the ones to mentioned previously.

What we are seeing is a change of culture and a tranfer of power from big cinema distribution chains to Netflix, Amazon, HBO, etc. But here’s the catch: some of these production companies ALSO OWN their distribution service.

It’s their clear and obvious interest to cut the middleman and the trend is destroying cinematic cuture.

I can remember most great movies I saw in the cine theater. I remember Parasite, Dunkirk, Lord of the Rings, The Ring American version, The Ring Japanese version, Pulp Fiction, art house movies like The Witch in smaller venues. Heck, I even remember the original Dumb & Dumber! (great comunal experience with a cine packed with teenagers).

But I cant’ remember even 10% of the movies I have seen on streaming services since 2013. They have little or no weight. Only my wife saves me from watching the same thing twice. “We already saw that one! Don’t you remember?”. No I don’t, sorry. They are a way to spend time, not an experience.

Frankly, I can’t see large cinemas getting smaller to accomodate art movies and a select crowd.

The entire industry is based on cashing in on huge blockbusters to finance smaller films that would never make it past a college script class.

As you say, the plan is not sustainable. Either that or making movies takes a huge 180º degree turn and guys like Brad Pitt start charging $1,000 per project instead of $10 million.

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Personally I was down to 4-5 movies a year before COVID and have no desire to sit in a theater anytime soon - like not for years. And because of the ridiculous cost of food/beverages in theaters for mediocre offerings - even in the one with sorta decent restaurants - I only went to see something new because I didn't feel like waiting a year to stream something. Having to endure 20 minutes of previews after the ticketed showtime makes me hate theaters a little more every time I go. I wish they'd start the damn movie on the time the ticket lists and show previews in between screenings. Anyway, because of that and more I'm happy to see the WB deal, every few months I can subscribe to HBO max for a month and get caught up on new films. I can do the same with Disney, Hulu or whatever.

I recently bought a big 4k HDR TV because the large multiplex model is now dead, like many others I'm going to just watch everything from home. With tentpole film budgets, actor/director salaries and the fact animation and comic book movies make up a good chunk of the largest grossing movies, it was a house of cards that was going to collapse at some point, COVID just accelerated that process.

Comparing box office grosses to streaming returns is a false equivalency, its a different business model. Netflix is spending billions on content for a reason, and lots of it is one-off films. 

Chris

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4 hours ago, Nikkor said:

Films that interest me have been rare latetly, I started to notice this specially since 2014.

You also? I’m also waiting for yet another remake of Charlie’s Angels.

I think @Trek of Joy said it above and that is Covid-2020 has only accelerated the demise of The Big Screen.

Personally, I would rather watch movies at home these days because the ‘traditional’ experience is mostly over-priced and unpleasant.

I can’t think of a single valid reason to ‘go to the pictures’ these days.
Not one. Other than rose-tinted nostalgia. I wish it was otherwise.

This has nothing to do with the film industry though, just consumption.

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Seems to be:

  1. Movies have become overpriced for the experience you get at theaters.
  2. In-home viewing technology is reaching the ever so important “better than good enough for a fair price OR convenience threshold” (similar to what phone cameras have done to the camera market).
  3. Shorter attention spans and the need for instant gratification.
  4. The Internet is eating all things
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I don't understand the pessimism about future revenues. Streaming has oodles of potential.

The gaming sector is now much larger than the movie business, so at home entertainment certainly offers a revenue pool deep enough to float the movie business, provided they make movies that have appeal.

For ATT, the owners of Warner, bringing in more traffic to their infrastructure is probably important, so that surely helped drive the decision. Plus this also eliminates their costly dependency on the theater chains. 

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1 hour ago, etudiant said:

I don't understand the pessimism about future revenues. Streaming has oodles of potential.

The gaming sector is now much larger than the movie business, so at home entertainment certainly offers a revenue pool deep enough to float the movie business, provided they make movies that have appeal.

For ATT, the owners of Warner, bringing in more traffic to their infrastructure is probably important, so that surely helped drive the decision. Plus this also eliminates their costly dependency on the theater chains. 

Who makes the money, though? The music industry makes tons of money from streaming, but less of it goes to artists than before streaming. Gaming has concentrated in fewer, larger studios as well, with a few large blockbuster titles, a lot of very small, single-developer/small team indie projects on steam, and very little in between. To bring it back to the topic, there used to be a place for large budget, unique blockbuster films like Inception, or the Matrix. "Free" and "unlimited" streaming is paving the way to large quantities or low quality, pumped out with adequate visuals, engaging actors, addictive by-the-numbers stories. The industry might make more money, but if all of it goes to the AT&T and Netflix execs, the way it did for music, then I do think it warrants pessimism.

The reason streaming is lowering average quality is the low bar of entry to view content. One of my friends just watched 4 seasons of Mr. Robot this past week with it on in the background while doing other stuff. That's something you won't do if you pay $11 for a theater ticket, and I guarantee if you're sitting there paying attention to every moment you'll be less willing to put up with filler, inconsistencies, and bad moments. As bad as the theater experience is (and it is bad!), keeping a high cost and requiring a time commitment does force viewers to be more discerning, or in another sense it weeds out the casuals.

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The Mandalorian is doing a better job of carrying the Star Wars universe as a streaming serial than the entire Prequal trilogy, which had an unlimited budget. I'd be fine if they decided to carry it forward that way and cancel all the future cinema releases.. because the movies became bloated. Don't even get me started on Nolan. There's a guy that could do with fewer resources at his disposal. 

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1 hour ago, KnightsFan said:

...but if all of it goes to the AT&T and Netflix execs, the way it did for music, then I do think it warrants pessimism...

As opposed it going to the studios??? And, movie theatre chains???

Look... Scorsese’s Irishmen went straight to Netflix...

Dave Chappelle got a 60 million dollar - 3 special deal with Netflix...

Joe Rogen signed a $100 million dollar deal with Spotify.

Just saying... as much as you think that the artists are not getting their pay... just not completely correct.

Music industry went the way it went because people were pirating the music online anyway.

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17 hours ago, zerocool22 said:

Def could live without all those movies, but the shit netflix is producing is even worse. I def see value in the fact that cinema plays movies at a certain time. There is no pauze, everybody needs to be quiet, so the movie has your full attention. While at home there are thousand distractions (please pauze I need to go to the bathroom or I need a snack, oh I forgot to start the dishwasser, smartphones, kids, friends/wife/kids start talking when bored, or commenting and the list continues)

This is a very good point. But what we have done in my household during the pandemic is to have 'family film night' once every couple of weeks. We literally microwave the popcorn, turn down the lights, switch off our phones and enjoy a film...

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10 hours ago, EduPortas said:

How about going on a date? Breaking the monotony? Doing something different for a change?

 

Nah, it's not a event like it used to be.

1 hour ago, Robert Collins said:

This is a very good point. But what we have done in my household during the pandemic is to have 'family film night' once every couple of weeks. We literally microwave the popcorn, turn down the lights, switch off our phones and enjoy a film...

This is what we also do. Have done for years, for a long time prior to this year.

 

The simple fact is, things change. We don't do lot's of things that we used to do either because they have been replaced by something as equally valid, or even better, or the 'old thing' just lost it's sparkle.

Cinema was very much a 20th century thing, but it's been in decline ever since because it is competing with so many other things and the cinema industry itself has allowed that decline.

It just is what it is.

If I had the choice today to go to a large multiplex with it's overpriced everything, or a small local restored Picture House, I'd choose the latter every time. But very few exist.

The other thing for me is during the 20th century, the movie was the bigger as in longer experience, ie, the Daddy of filmmaking, but in the 21st C, it has been equalled if not exceeded by 10 hour movies split into 1 hour instalments with production values that match or exceed.

It's called evolution and you can't fight it and sometimes, you perhaps shouldn't try.

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7 hours ago, mkabi said:

As opposed it going to the studios??? And, movie theatre chains???

Yes, I recommend reading the book I mentioned earlier, Who Owns the Future, it explains everything better than I can.

7 hours ago, mkabi said:

Dave Chappelle got a 60 million dollar - 3 special deal with Netflix...

Joe Rogen signed a $100 million dollar deal with Spotify.

Just saying... as much as you think that the artists are not getting their pay... just not completely correct.

A couple examples of top earners getting massive deals is exactly what I'm saying is wrong. The industry as a whole is making plenty of money, but the middle class worker base is shrinking with a few rising to the very top and most losing jobs or getting lower pay. Same as every other industry, actually.

7 hours ago, mkabi said:

Music industry went the way it went because people were pirating the music online anyway.

I don't know if that's strictly true. Again, the music industry is making gobs of money, but today a large and growing share is going to platforms instead of artists.

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6 hours ago, MrSMW said:

Nah, it's not a event like it used to be.

This is what we also do. Have done for years, for a long time prior to this year.

I respect  that.

But the fact remains: cinema and a big ass TV in your living room are two different mediums.

As such, the effects they produce are different. The way you receive content through them is different.

You can'y say Western civilization without cinema. It's a ritual and a huge industry also.

Are you ready to lose that?

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I think Nolan is hypocritical in respect to this situation. (And somewhat overrated as a director, but let's set that aside)
https://io9.gizmodo.com/oh-this-is-rich-christopher-nolan-1845833185

Ps: I had the opportunity to work with him on some games related to his films, and he's a really nice guy. I just didn't care about his later work myself.

And honestly, I find your article very sour and negative, Andrew. Plenty of awesome talent out there. The fact they are developing for the "small screen" has nothing to do with their creative abilities. But if you cherry pick only some really bad ones for your article, it sets a very negative toon unnecessarily.   

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1 hour ago, EduPortas said:

You can'y say Western civilization without cinema. It's a ritual and a huge industry also.

Are you ready to lose that?

Ready to lose the act of going to the cinema? I have already lost that.

Ready to lose the movie making industry? No and that isn’t happening as it (the filmmaking industry) has increasingly less to do with those big over-priced buildings full of people noisily eating and their phones pinging every few seconds.

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Anyway, people change, cultures change. As much as I hope that someday, somewhere, analogue shot movies will make their comeback, and pretty cinemas with decent and properly dressed guests will become a standard again, it's doubtful that this is going to happen. At this point in time, I wonder if I even want to further adapt to the ongoing digitisation of this era. Perhaps the foundation of cinematography, the civilisation in which cinema came to fruition, has reached a terminal stage.

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On 12/9/2020 at 2:12 PM, Andrew Reid said:

$858m from 94m views.

Try replicating that on streaming services.

Not going to happen.

So a lot of talent going to be cut back, budgets slashed and diverted, it all trickles down to the grass roots of the film and cinema industry - small guys will lose their jobs too.

Does anyone really think smaller, indie musicians are better off from streaming compared to CD sales, financially? Not a chance.

So a big correction on the way if they follow the trend to streaming and away from ticket sales at the box office.

Sorry to disagree but... Netflix makes just over 20 billion revenue a year!!!  there is nothing to replicate. Cinema will never be able to make as much as streaming, it is just that streaming survives on a lot of content but can also auto-finance a lot f it. Your example is only talking about a handful of films capable of making such revenue, While Netflix is steady revenue. I believe that with more streaming platform more job will be created as they can only survive with more content. I guess time will tell...

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