Digital Culture

“I’ll just watch it at home”: Is Cinema truly dead?

By Emma Dixon

(Image: Box Office Mojo)

A large portion of my childhood involved weekly cinema visits with my dad and regular trips down to the local blockbuster. As a lover of film, he introduced me relatively quickly to the magic of sitting in front of the big screen with other like-minded film buffs. However, I seldom make visits to the cinema anymore, and like the rest of our generation, find myself more commonly sitting at home catching up on the latest Netflix or Amazon Prime original film.

The success of streaming services has undoubtedly increased our accessibility to film. With bigger budgets, more prominent directors, and a star-studded cast, streaming services’ original films rival that of Hollywood blockbusters. For example, Adam McKay’s “star-studded end-of-the-world satireDon’t Look Up delivered more than 111 million hours of viewing on Netflix in December 2021. With a huge variety of big-budget films being delivered straight to our TVs, the idea of driving to the big screen and paying for a ticket to see a movie has admittedly become less desirable for the modern audience. 

The pandemic has undoubtedly contributed to the decline in cinema ticket sales, with a recent report from the Independent Cinema Office revealing that 47% of independent cinemas are operating at a loss and are unsure when they will return to profit. As a result, cinemas across the globe have been forced to close, and theatrical film releases have been moved to future dates or released exclusively on streaming platforms. For example, Disney announced that Artemis Fowl, a film adaptation of the 2001 novel, would be released straight to Disney+ in June 2021, skipping a theatrical release entirely. Furthermore, Christopher Nolans’ highly anticipated 2020 blockbuster Tenet was released exclusively on the big screen, and its disappointing $364 million gross profit against a budget of just over $200 million is now seen as an aspirational box office benchmark.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom, as Warner Bros’ hybrid approach to simultaneous HBO Max and theatrical releases has contributed to the success of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi adaptation of Dune (2021), achieving a respectable $400.4 million at the box office. Moreover, 2022 will see a return to many popular film franchises, including Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Thor: Love and Thunder, Jurassic World: Dominion, Avatar 2 and The Batman. It may lack originality, but it’s the kind of line-up that seems tailor-made to pack auditoriums.

The future of cinema is reliant on loyal audiences and film lovers alike, and I don’t believe that the modern consumption of film is now entirely contained to the comfort of our own home. I hope this year’s blockbuster releases will put cinema back on the map, as I know that I and many others across the globe find cinema to be the ultimate and most enjoyable mode of film consumption.   

Categories: Digital Culture, Film & TV