Theater of streams: How technology is changing the cinematic experience

Ever since the first fluttering black and white images introduced us to cinema, society has been enthralled by the stories it told. But although the way we watch film today has changed, one problem remains: an inability to make enough material of sufficient quality to fill near-insatiable demand.

The enormous entertainment paradox of the 21st century is that we are offered hundreds of 24-hour television channels, and yet can find nothing to watch.

The same is true of ‘cinema’, which we’ve put in single quote marks because it can be seen as just another form of television; those channels to be skipped through in idle hours of fruitless channel hopping.

The result is that masses of choice has dulled our senses, and the entertainment hit we crave, when we want to be entertained, has to be more intense. In a way, we have the option of cinema served two ways. Entertainment that we go out to experience, or ‘chewing gum for the eyes’ when we have nothing better to do.

And that second option is a niche that streaming services like Netflix have attempted to fill, offering entertainment in a way that dulls the pain of the early-morning commuting experience on a train packed with other disinterested office workers.

But the latter is hardly what the film-makers had in mind, is it, when they produced their epics with images and special effects that make you gasp, and powerful soundtracks capable of vibrating your kidneys? They were trying to give you an experience, not to dull one.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, the film industry found itself in a difficult position. Its product was hugely popular with audiences, but near-insatiable demand meant it had to churn out large quantities of often low-grade material to lay before eager cinema-goers who flocked to fill thousands upon thousands of seats. Even then it wasn’t enough. Even a bad film that can be watched in an hour or less takes longer than that to make, and in a world without TV people were hungry enough to be entertained that they’d happily go to the cinema two or even three times a week.

You might argue that Netflix is doing fine; that a 5% drop in its share price is little more than a blip, and that it has enough reach to source material that we actually do want to watch.

Important that the streaming service doesn’t get to be bigger than its content. Do we actually care where we’re watching something? Are we not driven more by what we want to watch than where we want to watch it? And there’s the opportunity for ‘conventional’ cinema, which, in spite of advances in technology, finds itself facing exactly the same problem faced my America’s movie theater owners a century ago.

They were At same time same thing and different one. Suits different audiences who can also be the same people at different times.

Let us entertain you: the race to secure audiences

The world around us is filled with screens, and the screens Diversity