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Bridgerton (Netflix Streaming Service)

Magazine

Hollywood v streaming: a disaster movie or could there be a happy ending?

Published 5 March 2021 in Magazine • 8 min read

Television, video, DVD ‒ the big screen giants have adapted and survived many times before, but the rapid rise of streaming combined with enforced closure of cinemas is posing the biggest threat yet. Collaboration may be the key to survival, writes Amit Joshi.

Adapt or perish is a mantra that Hollywood has become all too familiar with in recent decades. First it was TV and video that threatened to eat its lunch. Then along came DVDs, promisinga viewing experience that was capable of bringing the immersiveness of cinema into the home. To Hollywood’s credit (or perhaps good fortune) home viewing has never been able to quite replicate the appeal of the movies.

After all, its attraction cannot just be distilled into its constituent parts: the screen size, the sharpness of the image or the all-encompassing nature of the sound, where everything from a gentle murmur to a ferocious blast enlivens the senses. All play a significant role in the medium’s appeal, but cinemas are not just about technical sophistication, they are also part of our social fabric.

An ability to strengthen social ties and offer a means of escapism are two of the biggest reasons cinema has been so successful in etching itself into the fabric of popular culture over the decades. This cultural appeal has proved useful for Hollywood in the past, helping to cushion the industry against existential threats.

However, as with any business, survival is far from guaranteed. The rise in popularity of streaming platforms, Netflix chief among them, has put Hollywood on the back foot. Forced to change perspective, in recent years Hollywood executives have started to take the “adapt or perish” mantra more seriously than ever before. Then came the pandemic, and in the space of two months their world, and ours, changed.

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