Earlier this summer, a magical movie came out called Snowpiercer. It's release into movie theaters was pretty unnoticed, but a week or two later it was made known through its early release on iTunes. This is the world we now live in.
I love movies, and the experience of the movie theater speaks for itself. Some movies like Interstellar, were made to be experienced in a dark room on a gigantic screen. Others like Horrible Bosses 2, will have equal (if not more) enjoyment at home as it would in a dark, public place.
We live in a world where everything is online, and the old ways are becoming niche markets. Take Polaroids for example; the world of instant photography now means taking photos with your smartphone, but The Impossible Project has made instant film a fun (albeit expensive) bit of the past that we can enjoy every once in a while. Why can't movies be the same way? Imagine a world where Nolan and Tarantino still get their big screens, but movies that don't rely on the theater experience can be released online for the same price. Let's be honest, many small towns already have their movie theaters run by volunteers, because it's a business model that is dying of the same fate that's killing bookstores.
I bring this up obviously, because The Interview, the controversial assassination comedy by Seth Rogan and James Franco, has brought on threats of death to the American citizens who go out and see the film. Just a few minutes ago, The Verge published a piece on why The Interview should be released online, something I had tweeted earlier today:
Even if the threat is a fake one, why would people risk their lives for a Seth Rogan movie? (no offense, I love most of his stuff) But hey, why can't they release The Interview online on Christmas Day, the original release date, to stick to the hacker terrorists that threaten our people?
This isn't the first time that the movie theater experience has been wrought with fear. Remember The Dark Knight Rises premiere shooting in Colorado? Ever since, I've seen cops hanging out at theaters during nighttime showings, and midnight premieres have been pushed to earlier slots. (My theater premieres movies the night before it comes out at 8pm now) It's becoming far less worth it to go see a movie for the mass populous, and with The Interview scandal, I only see that getting worse.
I predict a world where a movie theater is a niche business. While I love the experience of theater (sometimes), I don't believe it has the power to outlast the internet. Are we losing anything if movies like The Interview are instantly watchable on our Apple TVs? I don't think so. Even if seeing a new movie at home is as expensive as taking your family to a movie, I think most people would do it.
While I'm not a fan of a movie-theaterless society, I think it's inevitable. I also think that because we live in an Avengers world, mainstream audiences are only going to spend money to go see a blockbuster film anyway. Smaller films may do even better if they were available to be instantly watchable at home.
I'm interested to see what becomes of The Interview. At this point, it better not suck.