The recent BAFTA and Oscars have stirred up a hornet’s nest of trouble from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Vue and Cineworld cinemas who have objected to the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video winning awards for movies that have debuted on their streaming services.
Vue and Cineworld have been spitting feathers at BAFTA because, they claim, the eligibility for films being nominated aren’t fair because Netflix and Amazon streamed films aren’t available on the big screen. Or if they are, they’re not in cinemas long enough.
I get it. They’re cinemas and want bums on seats and their sole business is to show films. Though these days, some cinemas also specialise in live theatre performances which are broadcast live. Or some even show TV shows on the odd occasion (Doctor Who springs to mind). Their bread and butter
Cinemas these days are fighting a losing battle. Have you been
- It was shown on the smallest screen in the cinema.
- The seats were filthy and worn-out. And this particular chain, even in with bigger screens, the seats are uncomfortable.
- What was once a mighty foyer with snacks and drinks galore is a mere shadow of its former self. The nachos I had weren’t fantastic. The choice of drinks and snacks are abysmal. And costly.
And my general complaint about most cinemas are:
- Trailers and adverts are not shown in the correct aspect ratio – you have black bars (like you do on TV) for everything.
- You’re constantly made to feel like a criminal by numerous reminders about not recording the soundtrack or video of the cinema screen.
- Ticket prices are expensive.
- The quality of the cinema and presentation vary enormously between different cinema chains and towns.
- Costs of time and travelling to the cinema and back again.
- People playing with their bloody mobile phones.
- People walking in after the film starts.
- People talking throughout the film.
- Seat quality. You often pay extra for this, and I don’t mind that too much, but there should be more expensive seats on offer.
Cinema is a shared experienced – especially with family and friends. I get it. But now with the same technology being made for the living room (Dolby in particularly are doing well with their Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos systems), you can experience the same thing at home with a large(ish) TV and decent sound system. Nobody is ever going to have the kind of screen and sound system that IMAX offers, but it’s still pretty damn good – home entertainment has improved leaps and bounds over the years.
As has the ability to finance films. It’s a whole different ball game with theatrical releases versus streaming (effectively you’ve already bought a ticket), and theatrical releases are far more risk averse as a result (and to the consumer too – you spend over £40 for a family day out to the cinema for a film nobody likes, you bet you’re going to be upset).
I watched Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma (which rightly won in the categories it was nominated for at the BAFTA and Oscars), and it’s truly an excellent film. He’s done extraordinarily well with it – as writer, director and cinematographer. I watched it on a 60″ TV in 4K (without HDR) and thought it was visually stunning (my former employers, MPC, were responsible for the visual effects and there is one sequence that knocked my socks off – my brain trying to figure out how it was done – and I was wrong!). Roma deserves to be nominated (and to win) as much as everybody else, regardless of how it was financed and distributed.
Imagine the fuss if a YouTube film won an Oscar or BAFTA. The old school and the cinema chains would spontaneously combust.
Spielberg’s complaint is that he wants to preserve the theatrical experience. I get it. I really do. When I was much younger it was a treat to
Some films I’ve had real problems getting to see due the very limited theatrical run. I can only seen them via physical disk purchase, iTunes (or similar) or via one of the streaming service. Should those films still be eligible for Oscars or BAFTA? And what of screeners and VOD that the Academy hands out to members? I’m told it’s a last resort, but even civilians like me don’t have the time (or inclination) to go to the cinema or the time.
Films are films regardless of however they’re made. This is the 21st century. We have the technology. But people want their films to be wherever they are. Whether that be in the cinema, on TV, on their mobile devices. It’s high time that the old school (I include Cannes in this) wake up and smell the coffee.