Is the theatre experience being driven home?
Netflix is literally everywhere now. With their recent announcement at CES, Netflix announced that their services would be accessible from most of the planet (China being a notable exception), leaving movie studios fuming and scared. They also plan to release a good amount of their content in 4K for that pristine, almost over-blown look on any 4K TV that will probably not make a big difference for those like me, who see most of Netflix on laptop screens no more than 17 inches in size. But for those people with large enough rooms and large enough TV's, this is pretty much bringing the immersive experience of watching films in the theatre to your home. Ultimate 4K resolution to your 60 inch TV with that kick-ass 5.1 surround sound is more than enough to reasonably replicate that theatre experience at your home. With it, you will not bother paying insane amounts of money for popcorn and drinks, you will be able to watch what you want at your own leisure. Boxes like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast allow you to choose from a HUGE assortment of content providers to buy, rent or stream movies, TV and music at your demand. Should theatres and film studios be scared?
I'm inclined to say no because of how good recent blockbuster films have been getting. Particularly those that release in IMAX format to potentially show some footage shot in IMAX cameras. Examples include Interstellar, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and many more. All of these films have grossed at least more than half a billion dollars at the box office, and although IMAX sales aren't that big a piece of that pie, it is growing. No matter how close to home you bring content to us, Netflix, there is no way I will be able to sit at home and experience what I did during the Burj Khalifa shot in MI 4, or the numerous IMAX shots in Interstellar, or that memorable chain of events in The Dark Knight Rises. All these scenes take over the screen, switching from the anamorphic format of the usual shots to Extreme verticality in IMAX theatres. Now, this argument for the theatre experience does solely rely on IMAX shots, but it is hardly the only one. The next obvious candidate is the immersive sound of a theatre. The Revenant strikes me as the first most memorable immersion in recent times in terms of sound design as well as the sound track, which while subtle during the lingering moments of the film, becomes eerily haunting in times of despair, i.e. the big action set pieces of conflict between native Americans and the whites. So many good things about the movie going experience are still true today, even with the advent of at home on-demand content, that I feel like things are only going to get better and better as we go forward. The biggest reason most people go to the movies is to be transported to an alternate universe and be immersed in it, and there is no way for the average movie-goer to replicate that at their home. So, the answer to the question posed before is: No, theatres and studios should only take this as a challenge and produce more immersive content for movie-goers across the world to enjoy. Content that simply will not have the same effect if watched at home.
Am I traditional in this sense? Yes I am, and that is because in this age of Vine and Tweets, I still am a good-old-fashioned fan of films. There is an intrinsic, albeit esoteric, quality of movies that I see in them that I can hardly put to words. Its more than just immersion into another universe, its being told a story by a director with a particular vision for it who takes us to this world of his/hers, presenting it with his/her perspective. So enjoy watching films in a theatre. Its an irreplaceable experience.