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​Field of Streams

Cinema | September 14th, 2022

By Scott Ecker 

scottallenecker@gmail.com

I cover two new movies a week for my podcast “All Screens Great & Small” with my co host J.D. Provorse. The podcast exists primarily to make sure the two of us stay engaged with current releases.

For me personally, the abundance of streaming options had become overwhelming. I found myself just rewatching the same couple of comfort food shows, and I didn’t want to just be a passive consumer. There is a lot of art out there that is worth discovering.

But as we transitioned from summer into fall, it was obvious that the pacing at which new movies are released was inconsistent. For the first week of August we had nine new releases we could choose from. In theaters there was “Bullet Train,” “Easter Sunday,” and “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On.” Across various streaming services we had “Luck, Prey, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Thirteen Lives” and “They/Them.”

That is a lot to pay attention to, and the amount of competition kept any of those movies from really making a lasting impact in the broader culture.

Fast forward to this last weekend (a holiday weekend, no less), when we had one new release: “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” And it was released on the same day and date in theaters and on streaming, leaving us with an option to see it at home instead of paying to see it on the big screen.

During quarantine, theaters had to close and it has been a slow process to rebuild any momentum that those businesses had prior to Covid. As audiences were not able to go out in public as regularly, there were not many movies made available for the big screen.

But with audiences stuck at home and every media corporation having a streaming service, more and more movies were made exclusive for at-home viewing. Leaving us in this difficult landscape where at least six major streamers need regular new movies to entice new subscribers and the brick-and-mortar theaters don’t have enough new quality releases to maintain a consistent audience.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no shortage of great movies. There have been so many theatrical-exclusive movies this year that are absolutely worth seeing. But they are generally released one at a time, competing with quality releases on streaming, and can’t stay in theaters for very long because the release windows are extremely short.

Which means audiences don’t have an incentive to take a chance on a new release. They know they can see it at home before too long, especially since very few movies grab the zeitgeist anymore.

The lack of urgency around movies is a concern of mine. Movies get released and don’t have an impact on the broader culture. There is so much out there that is worth seeing, but the audiences are so fractured. We aren’t sharing theatrical experiences the way we once did, and I think our culture has lost something from that regular artistic ritual.

So much of this issue is up to the studios. But we can also prioritize taking a chance on seeing a movie in a theater. The less we go, the less convenient that business becomes. Starting next week we are getting interesting options once more.

Take my advice and see something on the big screen. It is still the best way to see a movie.

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“All Screens Great & Small” can be found on https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-screens-...

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