Hello Netflix. RIP Film Industry?

Ahh, Netflix. You truly are one of a kind. You support us, you entertain us, but most importantly you won’t ever leave us. From Beasts of No Nation to Shrek you really do have something for everyone and that’s why we love you.

It’s weird to think that Netflix could ever do anything wrong besides having the audacity to ask ‘if you’re still watching…’ but, boy do I have some news for you.

Now I know what you’re thinking, Netflix would never do anything to hurt me… And you’re right, it probably won’t but, it might be hurting the global film industry.

Since 2015, Netflix subscriptions worldwide have literally doubled: reaching over 130 million worldwide. That’s a hell of a lot of people watching Netflix, considering up to four people can have access to one paid account.

And yes I’ll admit it, I am an account leech. Shoutout to my parents for keeping up that monthly subscription!

With the rise in Netflix subscribers has come a massive decline in DVD sales and cinema attendance. Of course, people are not watching movies any less, but rather consuming them in a different way.  The incredibly boring graph below shows the steady decline in cinema attendance in Australia over the last 40 years. Those big dippers may be the result of the Netflix invasion in the film industry.

Screen Australia graph on Cinema Attendance Frequency by Age: 1974-2017

Netflix poses a huge threat to the film industry because it provides its users with the ‘at home experience’, while also offering fresh and exciting new content on the regular. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining; there’s nothing better than setting up in your PJs with your favourite (and cheaper than cinema) snacks to watch the newest Will Smith movie, Bright, without leaving the comfort of your own lounge room. But, could this be closely linked to the steady decrease in cinema-goers?

It’s no doubt that Netflix has produced some absolute bangers. Take Okja for example. A fantastic movie that touches on some incredibly contemporary and topical issues. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017 and received a four-minute standing ovation, but what followed was a little more sinister.

When the Netflix logo appeared on screen, it was immediately met with haste so severe that following the event, a new rule was brought in that eliminates any film that is not shown in French cinemas from competing for the Palme d’Or, their most prestigious award.

Obviously, such a decision has been met with a lot of hate; many individuals asking why a film is denounced because of the platform it is available on. There is no doubt that such a decision is reflective of other opinions, including those of Steven Spielberg.

Skip to 4.25 to hear his opinion on Netflix

He explains, how Netflix could hold great influence over the future of cinema, in regards to movie funding, success rate, and branded content. However, in his wisdom, he can see some light in the darkness. Spielberg explores the idea of a changing landscape. In our panic over the unknown, fear is always the first emotion that we, as humans experience; and that’s totally cool, but our anxiety may not be totally necessary.

We’ve seen it before (well, maybe not me personally but older generations) with the invention of the radio and television, to the internet, and even more recently with music streaming; from vinyl, cassettes, and CDs to Spotify and Apple Music. With concerns over what these new forms of music sharing would bring, the industry adapted and overcame; just look where we are now! We get to listen to whatever music we want, whenever we want, without the hassle of physical records, cassette tapes or boomboxes. So say goodbye to the days of serenading a love interest with that heavy and totally impractical ‘ghetto blaster’. Instead, I just have to make a new account each month if I want the luxury of an ad-free music stream. That’s right, no shout out to my parents for keeping that subscription afloat.

Perhaps this changing landscape is not something we should fear but rather something we should embrace. Netflix is providing users with a more intimate experience. With technology advancing; smaller screens, 4K resolution TV, and the ‘at home’ feel; how can we resist? Personally, I feel like the cinema has that ‘specialness’ about it that keeps people coming back. They’re a treat and Netflix can’t take that away from me… Unless Netflix takes away the cinema. At which point, let’s be real, I’ll probably drown my sorrows in the first tear-jerking drama Netflix ‘suggests for me’.

I guess we don’t really know what’s going to happen, but what I do know is I probably won’t ever break up with Netflix because it’s just too damn irresistible. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to binge watch the new season of BoJack Horseman.

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