If you were still unconvinced that streaming is the way of the future, Bird Box‘s recent numbers might change your mind. According to Netflix, the film was watched more than 45 million times in its first week – a new record for the streaming giants.
While industry experts might dismiss this figure as irrelevant, since it doesn’t tie to any physical box-office sales, I beg to differ. Netflix hardly spent a dime on advertising this movie, yet it pulled in a massive audience and a lot of eyes on its product for one singular title.
While the convenience of being able to watch Bird Box at home undeniably helped, this achievement also suggests that streaming will become the home of non-blockbusters in the future – and cinema theatres are about to feel the blow. Right now, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see the big tentpoles dropping on streaming platforms, since they still make a bucket load of money at the box office, but that second tier of movies below the blockbusters might realise it’s time to make the jump. They might not be saying it aloud, but studios are thinking the same thing. Those Gerard Butler action flicks just aren’t making bank anymore!
In the past, we noticed how production companies and studios would shop movies to the likes of Netflix when they realised that they would probably flop at the cinema. More often than not, these streaming services would buy them for the sake of content. Times have changed, though, and content-bidding wars have emerged. (Suddenly, you can’t fling your dud at Netflix and know it’ll take it – as Sony Pictures realised with Holmes & Watson.) Even more exciting, streaming giants are signing up key creators and actors to help expand their own film portfolios.
On the flipside, theatres will soon have to rely solely on blockbusters or change their business models. No longer are big names and recognised directors enough to convince cinemagoers, as convenience and luxury trumps a night out at the movies. If you read about my recent experience at Ster-Kinekor, you’ll understand how these types of incidents are putting people off. We’re on the cusp of a new era of media consumption, and it might change things forever. Whether it’s good or bad is entirely up to you.