It would be a moment that would live in infamy.
Sunday, March 15th, 2020 at Midnight. The time that all movie theaters in all of Los Angeles would be closed for the first time in the history of Hollywood. Never before had such a thing occurred. During wars, depressions, 9/11, Y2K, when liquor was illegal, when Green Book officially won the Academy Award for Best Picture and people were up in arms, and of course when O.J. Simpson was “on the loose.”
No, this is gigantic. Behemoth. Enormous.
But that’s not the story.
The story is that tonight at midnight, when theatrical exhibition officially shuts down for what is (allegedly) until the end of March, that it may end up being longer than that. And if it’s longer than that, it may forever destroy a certain percentage of the theatrical business. And most of all, when the doors officially close and those trademark Arclight sausages and homemade caramel corn are officially off-limits…
…the streaming era officially begins.
Because now, if you want to see a theatrical movie? You can’t. Because from this day forward, if you want to experience a communal experience while watching The Invisible Man, you’re shit outta luck. Because now, if you want to differentiate quality theatrical films from quality streaming films, there will be no way to do so…since…well…
Now, let’s not be all doom and gloom. Theaters will open up at some point in the future. They’ll come back with the big blockbuster movies you always planned to see in theaters. But the longer theatrical exhibition is on hold, the more people will watch big budget films on streaming services, and the more people will start to say to themselves…”shit, why go to the theater when I can have this experience at home?“
It’s what the exhibition world has been trying to forestall for years. It’s why Cannes argued with Netflix. It’s why AMC did the same. It’s why the Academy worked so hard to keep streaming movies from getting the nominations and the awards because it meant the death of an institution that was rapidly going the way of the Dodo bird.
But that’s kinda the way it’s going as you read this.
Did you ever hear that ancient story Plato used to tell about the young sheep herder whose wife got sick and went away to stay with her parents in a far away land? And that while she was gone, the young sheep herder thought often of her, growing increasingly sad that his lovely wife was not there to share the cold bed at night. As her sickness was significant, she was gone for more than six months, and during that time, unbeknownst to her, the young sheep herder had found a solution in quelling his almost obsessive desperation for feeling the breath…the touch…of another. Unfortunately for the young sheep herder’s wife…it was a sheep. So when she returned, having been gone for so long, the young sheep herder no longer looked at her with adoring eyes, but rather, found his obsession deeply attached to the animal that had replaced her.
Maybe it wasn’t Plato.
But it doesn’t matter. Because the moral of the story is the same. When you take something away from someone…a group of people, who are so passionate about that one thing, then they must find a new thing to replace that old thing… When the old thing comes back…a lot of people have already moved on to something else.
Alas. Why the streaming era officially begins tonight at midnight.
It’s a crazy, scary, motherfucking out-of-control time in our World. Things are changing. Uncertainty is par for the course. We are facing a kind of unknown none of the current generations have ever experienced throughout war, tragedy and that whole Netflix Quickster debacle.
Yes. Times are changing.
And so is the way people will end up getting their entertainment.