If you care about good movies, you should be thrilled right now

It’s Friday night and you’re trying to decide what to do. You could go see the epic Arrival in theaters, or you could check out a few episodes of Stranger Things on Netflix. As we all know, one requires a whole lot more effort than the other. (Read: you need to put on pants.) 

Movie ticket prices are on a seemingly never-ending rise, with the national average reaching a record high in the second quarter of 2016. Factor in additional costs like snacks, transportation, and hiring a babysitter alongside common annoyances like theater talkers, uncomfortable seating, and cell-phone users, and is it any surprise more and more consumers are opting out with quality entertainment available in other ways? 

*extremely infomercial voice* There must be a better way!

On December 7, news broke that Apple is pressing Hollywood studios for earlier access to their movies. According to Bloomberg Technology, if Apple gets its way, new releases might soon be streaming on iTunes in as little as two weeks after theatrical release. This would allow studios to finally compete with Netflix and other streaming programs that have long been the choice for those who, for one reason or another, are committed to staying on their couch. 

Even more exciting for lazy but loyal movie fans? Streaming services could potentially even up the playing field for famously dying breeds like the adult drama, which have struggled to find studio financing amidst diminishing box office returns. If studios can make early streaming an additional path to revenue for these adult dramas and other, lately-less-bankable genres outside of the theater, it could lead to these same studios taking risks on big budget films that aren’t, say, Transformers 7: Bumblebee Begins. 

As Tom Hanks recently said during a Sully Q&A at the Telluride Film Festival, we have arrived at a crucial moment for non-sequel big budget movies like the upcoming La La Land. Hanks claims that the film will “be a test of the broader national audience, because it has none of the things that major studios want,” like character recognition or the word “Marvel’s” preceding its title.

“If the audience doesn’t go and embrace something as wonderful as [La La] then we are all doomed,” Hanks continued. 

Thanks largely to positive buzz from the Toronto International Film Festival (where it won the People’s Choice Award) as well as a lull in major studio fare post-Moana and Fantastic Beasts and pre-Rogue One, La La Land is tracking extremely well pre-release (at least in New York and Los Angeles). But even if La La Land becomes the next Frozen, Force Awakens already proved that one film’s colossal success is hardly enough to reverse national disillusionment with theater-going.

Sure, luxury chains like AMC’s Dine-In Theaters and Alamo Drafthouse do offer a more comfortable outlet for serious moviegoers to see critically acclaimed films like La La, but the majority of non city-dwelling U.S. filmgoers are still stuck with the same old soda-stained mall theaters that are no longer worth the cost of admission. Add the massive expansion of streaming options and the ever-increasing picture quality of laptops, phones, and televisions, and it’s easy to understand why filmgoers have gotten choosy in terms of which films are worth the effort of a trip to the theater. 

Event movies like The Force Awakens beg to be seen on the big screen, of course, but won’t Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s song and dance look just the same from home, and at a much cheaper price?

"Midnight Special"

"Midnight Special"

Right now, one of the biggest incentives to go to the theaters is to see the film first, while the conversation and buzz are still happening, and not months later. If Apple can make that lead time significantly shorter, why wouldn’t many individuals prefer inviting friends over and watching a hit in the comfort of their homes? To be fair, a big question mark is cost. When this idea has been floated before, a price point of $50 to view at home has been thrown around. 

But think of the good an Apple-made service could have done for, say, Midnight Special, a Warner Bros. flop that enjoyed massive critical acclaim but made only a little over $6 million on its $18 million dollar budget. Midnight Special’s surprise failure was all thanks to the massive misfortune of its release date being pushed to the same month of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, an event movie Warner Bros. had far more interest promoting. If given the option, one would assume the film’s spectacular critical buzz would have driven the studio to shell out a few extra bucks for, say, front page placement on iTunes.

While Apple’s role in these studios’ push for increased revenue is still being kept under wraps, according to Bloomberg’s sources, movie-lovers won’t have to wait too long to see how early, premium-priced streaming will affect earnings for films like La La and Midnight — we’ll likely see someone debut a home entertainment service within the next 18 months. Then the only question will be whether or not home viewers really want to watch high-brow adult films alongside Jedis, Transformers, Minions, and chiseled men named Chris as much as they say they do.

BONUS: ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ exclusive featurette

from Mashable! http://ift.tt/2giUPHN