Maybe it’s too castigating to say that feature films are now entities that belong in the past, but with each passing series, it would seem that TV is making the historically formidable presence of movies really quite redundant, especially with regards to one pioneering platform.
I mean, when was the last time you had a cordial and earnest conversation with a friend about a film you pseudo-watched, whilst you actually got your addiction fuelled angry birds fix. When was the last time you got so enthusiastically hyped about a film that it warranted you coughing up some real dollar and heading to your nearest cinema, whether corporate or independent. When was the last time you squealed the praises of a film in such a menacing way, that you and your friends tried to out-shout each other, respectively ignoring each others identical tributes and instead socially scaring all those within your local proximity. You can’t? That’s exactly what I thought squire.
Now compare this to the influence Television has had on today’s media savvy society. I know right. All I ever hear in the aisles of Lidl is, ‘I did not see Agent Brody blowing that guy’ or ‘Breaking Bad has got me hooked on meth’. Quite simply, TV has changed the way in which we watch video entertainment. It has brought in hysterical audiences, first-class fans, loyal devotees, epidemic worship and straight up lunacy, and what’s more, TV has upped its game both this side of the pond and in the US of A. I mean there’s the Golden Globe winning Homeland, the obsession inducing Breaking Bad and the fantastical Game of Thrones. Then there’s Dexter, House of Cards, The Newsroom, Luther, Downton Abbey (or as my mother calls it, Downtown Abbey), The Walking Dead, Boardwalk Empire, Justified, Sherlock, Vegas, Ray Donovan, Californication and True Detective, just to name a few of these epic creations.
These shows are encompassing though. It’s not just the spectacular cinematography, the perfected direction or the million dollar an episode budgets that have forced films onto the back foot and ensured television steals the ‘escapism’ thunder, for television now covers the entire spectrum, and with enough intimacy and detail that the audience has no choice but to revel in its gentrified glory. The screenplays are flawless and the dialogues impeccably quick. The characters are profoundly complete and their stories are without fault. But what’s most impressive is the way these characters can build stars, that’s if their portrayers are not household names already, the likes of whom used to dabble in, I don’t know, box office smashing Hollywood movies. We have Kevin Spacey, Liev Schrieber, Dennis Quaid, Benedict Cumberbitch, Timothy Olyphant, Sean Bean, Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Jeff Daniels, Idris Elba, Steve Buscemi, Ashton Kutcher, Don Cheadle, and if my knowledge serves me well, Robin Williams has committed his future to this medium as well.
The TV gems are astonishing, the depth of each episode is knob hardening, the names attached are mind-blowing and the impact it’s having on films and cinema is astronomical. Who do we thank though. Do we thank the international bankers of Wall Street and London’s City district for forcing us into a triple dip recession? Do we thank the cinemas for continuously inflating the prices so that every time you plan a film night you have to re-mortgage your house? Do we thank the Internet for it’s unmonitored ability to keep pumping out pirate streaming sites and DVD quality torrents? Or do we thank the creators of the Fast & Furious franchise for pumping out seven culture cremating ‘movies’? I personally believe that all of the aforementioned accused have played some sublime role in toppling the world of independent films, and they’ve done so without alleviating the stranglehold of the studios whatsoever, not even a smidgen. (Hell on High Vodka, if anything they’ve given these studio monsters another avenue, just look at the Disney and Pixar hybrid known famously as Toy Story, which is now been given the big green thumbs up to have TV specials brought out on certain dates. TV is huge now.)
However, this is not where we should be pointing our fingers as we look to spread the blame, forever adamant that each of us streaming crooks and downloading delinquents has nothing to do with the demise of the cinema, for we should be looking at what happens next… and that would be Netflix. For not only is this platform well on its way to shunning cinema’s as it continues to play the affordable medium of in-home entertainment, but it is reshaping television and cable television as we know it.
Netflix embodies what ‘on-demand’ claims. It has given its audience the power to choose what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. What’s more, Netflix has saved huge sums of money by eliminating pilot season, it is not afraid to take risks which allows a platform for studio productions and independent attempts and it has secured an unrivalled library that has something for pretty much everyone. It has enhanced what has become so familiar over recent years in terms of choice and ‘on-demand’ and now leads the way in how we are entertained via media avenues.
Now I don’t believe films will be made redundant forever, but I do believe that with the age of digital taking over we have a whole world to explore, starting with 3D and IMAX, for we have only just touched the sides of this, in a similar scenario to Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson. But for the next decade at least, I believe Netflix and the mesmerising shows of HBO and Showtime will continue to lead the pack in terms of quality and quantity, providing us with shows so formidable that their audiences will be able to knock one off irrespective of sexy shower scenes or not.