• Nikos Papanikolaou

Does Netflix kill cinema? Or it’s just saving it?

Cinemas have taken another massive blow during the pandemic. For years now, cinemas are trying to cope with the rise of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, and many more. However, movie fans remain divided on what’s better.

By Nikos Papanikolaou

So, what's better? The experience to go to the cinema, buy popcorn, and watch a movie along with other people, or being able to press a button and watch any movie you want from the comfort of your pyjamas and your own home? The truth lies somewhere between these two options.

It is a fact that cinemas are not streaming services’ main opponent. The main opponent of a streaming service is another streaming service. So, what’s the fuzz around cinemas? Most probably, it’s about nostalgia. And nostalgia sells a lot these days. From vinyl to VHR tapes and from cassettes to Walkman, new generations are desperate to be part of the hype. Nostalgia is not cheap. It’s expensive. And since cinema is mostly about nostalgia, it can potentially generate a lot of money.

“I’ve must have been to a cinema once or twice in my life, mostly with my parents. I was always feeling more comfortable renting a DVD or, later, watching movies on Netflix. It’s easier, you know. You have so many options in front of you; you can watch anything, anytime,” says Kostas Papadakis, 21, a bartender from London.

But what Kostas finds easy – the countless options – some others find it exhausting. For example, how many of you have spent a considerable amount of time finding something to watch? And when you find it, you have already lost the appetite to watch a movie. Cinemas, on the other hand, were always had certain options. The newest movies; That’s it. But that’s not enough to make people get back in the cinemas.

What can take young people to the cinemas is the hype of nostalgia. This is why Netflix and Amazon are buying cinemas worldwide; because they want to be part of this nostalgia market. But, on the other hand, cinema lovers should not feel bad about it.

“I think people feel betrayed, especially the romantic ones. Or the older ones. There is this will to hang on to things that remind us of “the good old times”. But if you think it through, what’s the harm of having Netflix owning a cinema? If this is what will keep people employees getting paid, I’m up for it,” says Dhan Patel, 34, a software engineer in London.

Unfortunately, cinemas are closing one after another. Sad? Yes. Reality? Also yes. So, instead of ignoring the problem, it will be useful to see what solutions are out there. And if streaming services buying cinemas translates into people keeping their jobs and keep having open cinemas, what’s the fuzz about it?