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The Cost of Living and Cinema

Today, people can access a tonne of films on their television with the touch of a button. You could argue that there is simply too much to watch. Much of it is disposable content, the type people can have on in the background whilst they are doing the washing-up or a crossword. However, due to the growing ubiquity of streaming platforms, more brand-new, high-quality film and television content can be enjoyed at home now than ever before.

Instead of traipsing to the cinema every time you want to watch buzz-worthy new movies, streaming platforms can give people access to see high-profile stars act in recent films that range from Oscar-bait to big-budgeted blockbusters, auteur passion projects and quirky independent oddities. Unlike more traditional film production companies, streaming platforms have given auteurs and blockbuster directors the heinous amounts of money they needed to fund their long-gestating passion projects (see Scorsese’s, The Irishman produced by Netflix). Or even to fund sweet left-turns in their careers which demonstrated their directorial range (see Avengers directors Anthony and Joe Russo’s turn to Bondian spy craft with The Grey Man and Rian Johnson’s transformation of his one-off subversive whodunnit into a saga with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story). The number of streaming platforms on offer can be overwhelming. A remote can connect people to Apple TV+, Netflix, Prime Video and Sky. Using Sky, people can access not only the aforementioned platforms but also Paramount+, Peacock and more recently, Lionsgate+. It’s getting ridiculous. 

However, great variety comes at great expense. Although streaming services in some ways improve access to new films by having many available to stream from the sofa, the cost of living crisis, including rising energy bills, makes it all the more necessary to be selective when it comes to choosing what streaming platforms to use. Furthermore, I would be paying dozens of pounds per month to access all the latest film and television content on all major streaming platforms. And then there’s the fact that streaming platforms don’t work without an internet connection. Another cost. Deciding on which streaming platform to focus on is challenging. I can imagine the sorting hat scene from Harry Potter but instead of it choosing my Hogwarts School House (it’s already placed me in Gryffindor in case you were wondering, not Slytherin) it attempts to work out my preferred streaming platform based on the particular type of film buff I identify as being. Honestly, I think the hat would be stumped when trying to work out what my favourite platform is because choosing one streaming platform over others means I am barred from experiencing the fruits of other artists’ labours that are released on other streaming platforms. 

The cost of living crisis has certainly made me limit the number of visits I make to the cinema, especially when one monthly payment gives me access to a database of films on a streaming platform. But nothing can beat watching a film in the cinema. The buttery smell of popcorn, the sound of cola being sucked up a straw, the lights dimming and focusing all of your senses on the story you’re about to commit a chunk of your life to watch, usually for the first time. Oh, what a thrill it is. Nowadays, there are great innovative and provocative films to be found both in the cinema and on streaming platforms but the actual experience of watching films will always be more acutely heightened in the communal cavern that is the cinema. 

Cinema” by DAV.es is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

By Jack Ferguson

https://studentnewspaper.org/jack-ferguson/