“I love to go to a regular movie theater, especially when the movie is a big crowd-pleaser. It’s much better watching a movie with 500 people making noise than with just a dozen.”

-Steven Spielberg

There’s nothing in the world that connects people across boundaries more than Music, Sports, and Cinema. There is a soul in each one of the three, that embraces the capability to bind people together. There’s magic in each of them, that keeps them fascinated them every second. All three induce the same feeling, be it watching a cricket match live in a stadium, attending a live music concert or witnessing a movie unfold around you surrounded by 200 people, inside a large hall, where everyone feels the same emotions as you.

But with the burgeoning of technology, the idea of enjoying all three also evolved. Streaming services brought in the luxury where one could easily enjoy all three without moving an inch away from their comfort zone, and that is exactly where the problem began. At a time when movie piracy began erupting like a volcano, Netflix became the world’s first online DVD rental store, operating from California. The streaming giant expanded its wings pretty fast and took over the world by a storm.

The thought of going up to a movie theatre and spending 200 bucks started fainting away from the cine goer’s minds when they could actually sit in the comfort of their couch, bed or pod and enjoy the same movie, a few months later maybe, but in a digitally enhanced version from a streaming site that boasts of having 36,000 different titles. With enhanced analytics and algorithms into place, Netflix recommends you titles that suit your mood. So why would anyone bother going up to a movie theatre then?

The answer is simple: Would you rather enjoy watching a painting like Monalisa or The Last Supper in the Louvre museum or on your 6-inch FHD display phone? If you know the answer to that, you would know why this debate arises in the first place. Just like a painting, cinema is also a piece of art, that has the ability to teleport you. You don’t watch a movie, you witness it and seeing it with a group of people around you, who are going through the same feeling like you as the story unfolds, is an event that one shouldn’t miss out on.

Over the years, filmmaking has evolved heavily. Coming a long way from using a roll-film camera (which is why the cinema is also called a “film”), moviemakers have started making use of digital cameras, just because it is a lot easier to handle and store. And most of the Netflix Originals are made digitally, which almost all senior filmmakers despise since it limits the experience of watching a picture in better formats, i.e. 35mm or 70mm. Directors prefer to shoot with such lenses because they provide a wide-angle and help the viewers to get completely immersed in the story while watching, which is the primary goal of every director. This is also the reason why these lenses are considered the gold standard, and if they’re shot with an IMAX camera, then that serves as a cherry on the top.

On the other hand, the movies that are created digitally seem bland and bleak, taking you out of the experience almost immediately. The main reason why people use digital cameras in the first place because they can be easily stored, whereas roll-film gets damaged and exposed if not maintained properly. The Criterion Collection Inc is one of those organizations that preserve the long-lost classics and digitally remaster them to suit today’s highest pixel qualities. For instance, the roll-films of Satyajit Ray’s earlier works like the Apu Trilogy got damaged in a fire in London, where they were stored. The Criterion team got hold of those rolls and attempted to restore it frame by frame, manually. That is the extent people can go to for the love of films.

Since the past couple of years, Netflix has been affecting the movie-going experience, because of the Netflix Originals domain, that produces unique shows and movies and some of them even garnering rave reviews from both critics and audiences, receiving more awards than some TV shows and feature films, for instance, Roma and Stranger Things, with the former receiving almost 11 awards last year. That being said, Netflix is one medium that has a very wide outreach, people have started watching and appreciating good cinema that is available on Netflix. And renowned directors like Alfonso Cuaron and Martin Scorsese are leveraging the medium so that in this age of digitalization, their works can be witnessed by a mass audience, while also releasing it in select theatres to keep the fire of cinema alive. Another reason for them choosing Netflix as a platform to outsource their content is the lack of censorship. Netflix has minimal censorship and provides an artist with all the liberties they need. This helps them to portray things as they like without having to compromise.

Movies like Avengers Infinity War and Star Wars answer as to why people still keep rushing to the theatres, whereas shows like Stranger Things and Money Heist are reasons why Netflix subscriptions are soaring sky high. So then, in the end, everything boils down to your preference: Whether you choose to sit amongst a crowd, gulping down a tub of popcorn and cheering and laughing with others or watch it in the coziness of your bedroom with the medium chilled AC just as you like it, and a half-empty scoop of ice cream sitting on your lap as you hit the play button on your laptop.

Written by:- Sagnik Chakraborty

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