Downloading Movies: Fad or Forever?

April 20, 2011

Earlier today, I tweeted a question from @Old_Hollywood about the possibility that maybe watching movies on the Internet is just a current craze, not a “forever” solution. In response, one of my Twitter friends @jaywheeler44 tweeted this:

“How can Lean’s masterpieces be enjoyed on a 15″ screen? It just doesn’t work!”

Thank you, Jay, because therein lies the heart of one of the biggest questions new movies now face. Do enough people really want to sit alone at a computer monitor and watch movies, rather than go to movie theaters?

From Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

Movies On The Internet: Here To Stay or Fleeting Trend?

One of today’s raging debates revolves around the possibility of the Internet becoming the prime delivery mechanism for movies.

People under thirty are so accustomed to watching entertainment, including movies and television, on their computers that an assumption is growing that the Internet will soon become the single biggest and most important distribution outlet for movies.

There is no question that most of us over the age of forty were not raised in the computer age; therefore, we don’t have a history of downloading movies and watching them on our computers. An important question for us baby boomers and generation x-ers then is whether or not we will adopt the habit of downloading films to watch them on our computers.

A further assumption being made is that boomers and x-ers will eventually pass from the scene, thereby eliminating all resistance to the Internet becoming the prime distributor of films.

I believe that the far more intriguing question revolves around the pervasive power and influence of the Internet itself. Whether or not the Internet overall will continue to dominate the way it has over the last ten or fifteen years is certainly an intriguing debate to have.

For those of who love movies, however, the questions become much more specific:

Will boomers and x-ers “get with the movie program” on the Internet?

Will young people who watch movies on their computers continue to do so as they age, as many are now assuming? Or will the isolation of the technology affect them later in life as well?

Simply put, what if the experience of watching movies on computers is only a passing trend?

Many people seem to automatically assume that the Internet will now dominate movie entertainment until the end of time.

Maybe it will, but what if it doesn’t?

Remember silent movies, vinyl albums, eight track tapes, VHS, AM and CB radio, and Blockbuster?”

What do you think? Please join the conversation!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg Traver April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm

I can remember back when movies consistently amazed the viewer with the latest and greatest sfx and make up etc.
Thinking to myself, “Wow! How can they top that?” ie. Star Wars, the transformation of that Dr. Pepper dude in “An American Werewolf in London”. All very cool stuff. Nowadays (Only someone over 40 would use that term) I feel that not too many things “amaze” the younger generation. I feel lucky that I was able to grow up in an era of true discovery. Are we slipping backwards in some ways? All I wanted was a big screen TV and a kick ass sound system to watch “Terminator “. The screens are getting smaller, the sound systems tinnier. How is that a better movie experience? Fad, all the way.


Jay Wheeler April 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Stephen, your thoughts raise some very interesting points and Greg’s comment is very much on point. I think what may be missed, though, is that certain scenes and scales simply don’t translate as well on a smaller screen, watching by yourself. If your have ever seen Omar Sharif riding in from afar in Lawrence of Arabia you know what I mean. The sense of awe can not be recaptured with CGI, nor can it truly be experienced the same way on a 15″ monitor. By the same token Carol Reed’s wonderful reveal scene in The Third Man with Harry Lime emerging from the shadows is no the same without the collective gasp of 50-100 of fellow movie lovers. I suppose my point is that while the Internet is not going anywhere and can be a fun and convenient way to see movies, it can not and will not evoke the same emotions as the larger venue. Maybe giving kids/teenagers the chance to see some of these classics as part of a matinee with a discount on theirovie admission would raise some awareness among the younger set in an environment where they could truly appreciate the art of yesteryear.


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