Much has changed in how we view movies in the past decade. Even though we’ve been streaming movies at home since the mid-to-late-2000s (around the same time as the first Blu-rays hit the market), watching DVDs since the mid-1990s, VHS starting around 1977, and 16mm and 8mm since the advent of celluloid. Hell, the first feature film broadcast on television — albeit on an experimental station, W6XAO (which would late transform into KCBS, the oldest television station in existence) — was The Crooked Circle on March 10, 1933. And The Crooked Circle was still in theaters when W6XAO’s launched its auspicious broadcast.
The home viewing experience is an integral component of moviegoing. Most filmmakers, critics, and scholars first experienced their beloved medium in living rooms and bedrooms. Yes, the theater can be sacred ground — and the effect of watching a movie projected from behind you is difficult to recreate in the home — but to treat home viewing as a lesser experience adds little and achieves nothing.
Particularly true of movies outside the current Hollywood marketing machine. While many will show up for Marvel’s latest blockbuster or the new episode in the Star Wars franchise, trying to get audiences to spend the same money on something unknown, something from before they were born, or something in a different language is a challenge.
That is where streaming comes in. Thanks to a flat monthly fee (roughly $5 to $15 for most services), viewers have a myriad of options: From exclusive content and new releases — which typically act as the carrot to drive subscriptions — to back catalogs for adventurous streamers.
For the past decade, Netflix has led the charge and blazed the trail. FilmStruck — gone, but never forgotten — was like having a film festival in your living room, every single day. And Kanopy has empowered public libraries to move outside the box when it comes to programming and cinematic gatherings.
And on November 12, 2019, the Walt Disney Company entered the market with their service, Disney+. Bringing their vast collection of animated, live-action, TV shows, and documentaries alongside acquisitions like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and 20th Century Fox, Disney+ offers subscribers everything from the highest-grossing motion picture of all time, Avengers: Endgame, to the first cartoon to feature synchronized sound, Steamboat Willie. From the movie that launched the adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han, Star Wars: A New Hope, to the continuing adventures of all things Star Wars with The Mandalorian. From Pixar’s first foray into computer-generated animation, The Adventures of André & Wally B, to a whole new slew of shorts to showcase the studio’s latest talents (Purl, Float, and more).
More will be added; some will return to the vault. Exclusive shows and series will debut on the service while the latest Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel movie will continue to dominate at the box office. Moviegoing hasn’t changed, it’s just in a constant state of evolving. Adventure is out there.