Microwave popcorn in the comfort of your own home, or freshly buttered popcorn with a 65 foot screen? Which do you prefer when watching a good movie? In the past, if we wanted to watch the newest movie release, we would have to go to the nearest movie theater, or wait until it came out on VHS or DVD to rent at the closest Blockbuster. However, online streaming services have changed this.
With the rise in online streaming, most movies are at your fingertips, and you do not have to pay over $20 to watch it at a theater. All you would have to pay is a minimum of $8.99 a month for the most basic plan on one of the most used services: Netflix. Only 16% of Americans in 2019 used their local movie theaters while 60% subscribed to streaming services.
Noah Allen (sophomore, Psychology) reminisced when asked about how he watched his movies. “I used to like going to the movies when I was a kid and had parents to pay for the experience. But as an adult, I just do not see the point in paying so much for a big screen, a comfortable seat, and overpriced food. It may have seemed more appealing when I was watching from my small computer in my dorm room at school, but now that I am at home due to the pandemic, I have a sizable TV, a comfortable bed, and a fridge that I have 24/7 access to.”
Allen continues to say, “When I lived in the dorms before the pandemic, not only did I not have the time to go to the movies, I for sure didn't have the money. Using streaming services saves me money and what some people don’t know is you could also get a discount for the streaming service Hulu just for being a student.”
This seems to be a common theme with people who prefer streaming their movies over going to theaters. Many people find it more convenient to be on their couch or even in their beds and access their streaming services with one click of a button. Not only do you have access to a wide variety of movies from these services, but some movies are only available through these sites and are not screened in theaters. These services have been marketed as easy and cheap entertainment.
Jessica Gomula-Kruzic, professor of Video & Time Based Media at Stan State says that, “My family and I usually watch movies on Netflix or a Amazon Prime, mostly because they are cheaper. We can pause it at any point, we can start it at any point, and we can eat whichever foods any of us want to...We used to go to the theaters to watch major new releases, like Star Wars or Marvel, but that was only 2-3 times a year.”
People who still prefer going to the movies often talk about the energy that you feel when watching an anticipated movie for the first time in a room filled with people who are just as excited as them. However, while some people find this to be a positive aspect, others feel it lessens the enjoyment for them.
Tiana Moua (junior, Studio Art) is one of the individuals making the choice to skip the rush in theaters. “I prefer streaming services at the comfort of my home. I don’t like big crowds, and I am more comfortable in my safe zone.”
Statistically, it does look like streaming services have a current advantage over traditional movie theaters, but some people do not think it will be enough to take down the traditional entertainment. It may seem like people are streaming more, but the box office says otherwise. For example, over $7.3 billion dollars in revenue were made from “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War” just in 2018 alone in the box office.
While streaming may be growing more popular, there may always be over-stressed parents going to the movies for alone time, a nervous first date, or the thrill of a midnight premiere of a long-awaited movie keeping theaters in business. Online streaming and movie screenings are going to be going head-to-head with the pandemic giving people a taste of what it's like to enjoy your favorite movies from the comfort of your own home. So, the question is, how do you watch your movies?