Do You Think Netflix Is Damaging The Traditional Theatrical Experience?

Do you think watching films released on Internet streaming sites like Netflix is damaging the traditional theatrical experience? I don’t, but famous film director Steven Spielberg does and wishes to prevent future films like recent Oscar darling Roma from being considered during the awards season, unless they have an exclusive theatrical window first.

I’m sure many haven’t even heard of the movie Roma, given it’s such an artsy type of film, and subtitled at that. But if you are an avid moviegoer like me, then you probably know it was produced by Netflix, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, and garnered ten 2018 Oscar nominations, even though it was only released for three weeks in theaters at the same time it began streaming.

I did not watch Roma in its limited three-week theatrical release and instead opted to stream it. In all honesty, I’m glad I did because I simply couldn’t relate to the material, even though most critics and other artsy moviegoers raved about it. With prices of movies these days continuing to rise higher and higher each year, it’s movies like Roma that I’d rather save money on and watch it from the comfort of my own home.

Add in the fact that each of our local Toledo cinemas have seats that are relatively uncomfortable for me (i.e. no plushy recliners), seats aren’t reserved either, concessions are exorbitant, sound quality is often at a lower decibel then I prefer (even though my hearing is just fine), picture quality is often slightly blurry as well (even though my vision is just fine too), people constantly are on their phones, and many continue to talk during the movie, I find streaming to be a much better alternative for many smaller known movies.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the theatrical experience and usually see plenty of films throughout the year, but what Spielberg doesn’t understand is the average moviegoer would rather save money these days and be in the comfort of their own home and furniture, where they can pause a film at any point if they need to (like to go to the bathroom), where they have total control over the sound and picture quality, where they have access to much wider varieties of foods and beverages for far cheaper, and where the only talking or phone use is when they do it themselves.

That’s precisely why I thought watching Roma at home on Netflix was great, as I got to crank the volume during it because I like to do that for all the movies I watch. I also colored in my coloring book at certain points while watching it, paused it a few times for bathroom breaks, and was able to enjoy my $1 bottle of water rather than one for $4.50 and eat far healthier snacks than anything the local theaters offer. And I saved $12+ doing it!

Sadly, I think Spielberg is having trouble accepting the fact that the moviegoer world is shifting. More and more people are growing weary of the theatrical experience and are choosing to stay in the comfort of their own home because that experience is far better overall for many. Of course, people are still going to go see the huge Christmas and summer tentpole releases at theaters, like those Marvel movies and such. But for smaller films like Roma, it’s just not worth it for a growing number of people these days, especially those who are trying to be more and more cautious of how they spend their time and money.

The bottom line for me is that I disagree with Spielberg and don’t believe Netflix is ruining the theatrical experience for the average moviegoer at all, nor do I believe that Netflix should be forced to have a theatrical release for awards consideration either. Netflix is simply making it far easier for those who are time-pressed or economical to see films they probably would never make it to in a theater.

Personally, it’s my hope that one day all films will be released simultaneously to streaming and theaters, where the choice is left in the viewers hands on the format they wish to watch it in. Maybe in doing so, Spielberg and the rest of Hollywood may actually see more of their films, especially the lesser known ones, getting watched…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson