Streaming has not only changed the way we consume music today. For many, television has also changed from a linear television reception to a purely internet-based entertainment that always delivers the desired content at the required time. Ad-free and of the highest quality.
Above all, we thank Netflix for expressing the “Golden Series Era.” The leader in the streaming market has created great TV series like House of Cards, Stranger Things, Better Call Saul, Ozark and many more with a big budget and commitment too. This includes some “blockbuster movies” that are not from the US, such as South Korea’s Squid or the German series Dark. On the other hand, feature films tend to be an exception in Netflix and often have a certain format. It’s entertaining, but somewhat irrelevant.
Of course, others also want to ride the wave of success, so Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ in particular are the main competitors to Netflix today (in Germany). With TV+, Apple is also preparing to get its own piece of the pie. All of these major providers and others are constantly producing new series and feature films.
Turning point: lower quality and (again) more publicity?
Netflix has never been known for great movies. And that’s basically not a bad thing, because the series’ format is better suited for big stories than compressed movies ranging in length from 90 minutes to two hours. On other services — including Apple TV +, which is committed to quality — high-quality movies are also rare.
This may also be due to the consumer behavior of users. Instead of cinema or even on large television screens, which have now reached impressive diagonal images, content is being consumed more on the iPhone or perhaps on the computer screen, especially by the younger generation, who simply cannot do justice to the impressive visual language. For example, what is the benefit of 4K resolution with HDR on a 6- to 7-inch screen? Run times are also probably better suited in a sequential format for quick consumption in between.
The current impression is that film production, especially from Netflix and Amazon, but also from other services, is not up to the quality of large film productions in the past. This does not mean that technical quality is often excellent. It’s more about the less engaging stories.
In my opinion, the greatest period in the modern era for feature films was the ’90s, when one great movie chased after another. The Matrix, The Truman Show, Contact, Forest Gump, Titanic and a host of other screen productions appeared within a few years and had a “stuck effect”. Today, when I watch a movie with a big cast and a big budget, like Finch with Tom Hanks on ATV+, I often end up with a “really cool” feeling. But soon after that the content is more or less forgotten.
Maybe all the stories have already been told and there are no more new impactful stories? of course no. It is a pleasure that now and then great novels are implemented into ambitious TV series. like foundation. This production in particular, however, disappoints die-hard Asimov fans like myself with its plot, a far cry from the original. The reference to “based on the book” sounds like a mockery. The only truly positive example of an outstanding book adaptation in recent years is The Expanse. – But I digress.
The point is that feature films have somehow lost their appeal and sustainability. Are broadcasters doing something wrong, or am I overfeeding?
And now it seems that unpopular ads are creeping back into the world of “perfect” broadcasting. In different ways. Netflix offers an ad-based subscription model at a discounted price of around €5, but has gradually raised the price of its ad-free subscriptions in previous years. Amazon is taking a more disruptive approach with Prime Video. The service called “Freevee” offers completely free streaming, but paying Prime users are put off due to the fact that some interesting content, such as Bosch: Legacy, can only be seen through ads even for paying subscribers.
The path seems clear: in order to be able to produce more and more content with ever higher budgets – which in no way promise quality content – broadcasting without advertising is becoming more and more expensive, and paying subscribers are getting more and more into content Polluted with advertisements through the back door. It cannot be excluded that the best products, for example on Amazon, will be frequently posted on Freevee in the future. And who would think that Friefe will always be free?
Mass consumption and monoculture
I don’t want to draw the devil on the wall. Compared to the situation 10-20 years ago, streaming services for casual viewers as well as TV addicts still offer an impressive array of entertainment. I just miss the real innovations, especially in the feature film sector. It seems that blockbuster films only exist in the form of a superhero movie franchise, which at least I personally do not allow myself to go to the cinema. Or movies created as stellar vehicles with great effects but little substance. Where are the great, poignant, and long-lasting stories?
It’s as if the broadcast generation (not just filmmakers, but consumers as well) is decimating the big storytelling cinema – which also works on TV.
Of course, this article can only cover a few aspects of the whole situation. The full analysis goes far beyond the scope. But how do you see the current state of feature films in the era of live broadcasting? What movie or series based on great novels would you like to see? Do you accept advertising in movies and series if you have already paid the subscription fee for the service?