With the rapid pace of technological progress, the future of cinema, it seems, is in on demand and streaming content. The explosion of mobile and internet-connected devices has fueled a revolution in the way we, as the audience, get our entertainment.
Thanks to our smartphones, tablets, smart televisions, and internet connected set top boxes that easily stream content from a variety of free, paid and subscribed sources, it has never been easier or more convenient to enjoy content in your own home, or while traveling, at a reasonable price. Movies such as Hallmark movies are so easy to find in this day and age. When your content can easily move with you wherever you go, where does that leave cinema?
An acknowledgment of the problem traditional cinema is currently facing recently came from two of the biggest icons of Hollywood, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. While guests on a panel held at the University of Southern California, both filmmakers lamented at how the industry was heading for an unavoidable implosion. To grab the brass ring, studios are spending more on bigger and generic blockbusters at the expense of distinctive content, and if the trend continues, the inevitable result will be financial failure on a grand scale when they flop.
Contrast this with on demand content or HBO-type programming which is now known for making more distinctive programming while being far more profitable with smaller audiences, and the scale is being tipped away from Hollywood’s traditional outlet, the cinema. Audiences can use their gadgets to consume the content wherever they go, and creators can enjoy making distinctive work without the pressure of enormous budgets and studio pressure. It’s a win-win for everyone, except for the studios if they don’t get on board with the trend.
Is this a case of how technological advances are changing the way content is produced? It’s hard to see otherwise. The pervasiveness of mobile and streaming technology has rendered the idea of physically going somewhere specific to watch content as a past time of yesteryear. Just as digital photography relegated traditional photography to hobby enthusiasts, so too will streaming content relegate cinema to a niche past time, at least if it stays in its traditional form.
Cinema isn’t going away because we always need outlets for stories we want to tell, but the future of cinema is rapidly being transformed thanks to technology. The future of cinema is on demand.