TVs have always been a smaller experience than cinema. Whereas cinema has been screened on massive screens filled with people and the best sound available, TVs have been a cheaper and not so great alternative. But things have been changing, and changing a lot.
A tale of two mediums
Films have traditionally been of a very different ilk to TV entertainment. First, there’s the idea that it is a singular experience – nowadays not that much as sequels and reboots are churned out more and more. Then there’s the length – although this too has changed. I wasn’t around at the time, but I am aware that films used to be a double feature and there was often the “B” movie. The scale of films are generally greater as well.
In comparison TV has relied onthe length of the serial, has ad breaks inserted frequently within the showing and often reused sets. Heck, there’s even the rise of TV movies – mostly an American product which is a film that doesn’t have a lot of budget, generally cheesier and far less dramatic. Basically, it’s always felt that TV is the weaker brother of cinema.
What are you getting at?
The boundaries have been blurring over the past decade, with TV series spin-offs (though to be fair, that aspect happened even in the 90s), talk of screening special episodes in cinemas and larger budgets for TV series. The mediums feel as though they are merging slightly. Heck even actors have been swapping movies for TV and vice versa – and that’s something that didn’t usually happen previously either. But what could this mean?
Dawn of a new age of entertainment
TV has been changing in a number of ways, not just getting closer to movies. The way we consume media through online services has matched TV and films very well. With series in blocks rather than a weekly drip, I would imagine it actually keeps people watching. Not only that, but you can watch it on many devices, freeing up entertainment very considerably. We can watch anything, anywhere. Isn’t that great?!
But what does it mean for the future of TV and film?
It’s difficult to predict the future accurately, but I think it’s leading to a place where there’s virtually no distinction between film and TV. For the most part, TV today is still shot in seasons, containing anywhere between 6 to 24 episodes (though many now do 10-12) and have a reasonable budget. With YouTube and streaming services which do have quite a lot of quality content, I think it’ll feed into a general service based thing – with some notable omissions. Namely time sensitive stuff (and possibly reality TV). So the question is, will cinemas still exist? I think they will, with a very good reason.
Cinema 2.0 (kinda)
There’s still certain things that cinema does better over TV and streaming devices – being a large experience. The size of cinema screens, the sound quality and the excitement is still a buzz. But what might happen is that cinemas might have some sort of voting system to decide which films to show. Heck, we may see new smaller cinemas popping up that are more like luxury living rooms. Places where you and a group of friends go and watch a film of your choice, possibly from a library of films.
And how will films change in the future?
Well, I don’t think Super HD is the way forward, and neither are 3D or “interactive” films. There’s only one bit of experimental storytelling that I think people might like to experiment with, which is a kind of “choose your own adventure” type ones – and those haven’t been done in a while. Films instead will continue to rely on style, there will be highly polished sequels and remakes. I think services like Netflix and others may soon start showing trailers to their other content while streaming, allowing people to waste a few minutes before deciding whether to watch something. We will continue to see a cross of TV and film, with more switching between the two, and even movies being made instead of pilots. Films will also not just be a standard length of 90-180 minutes, but could be anything. We could see films that can be split up into several episodes, like the Futurama movies – which in of itself can pretty much smash up the regular 3 or 5 act structure. In fact, we could see those types of structures be subverted by the hybrid, leading to much greater build ups and lengthier films. Perhaps even films that are designed to be broken up more.
I think what I’m saying is that there’s a lot of possibilities and when you’re predicting the inevitable collision between TV and film (maybe the term TV could become redundant and we need a new name for serialised series) – there can be a large margin of error. But nevertheless, I’m still excited for the possibilities. And no doubt there are more far reaching consequences than I’ve detailed here. Maybe YouTube series will influence TV – it’s certainly the most likely candidate if my theory of “choose your own adventure” becoming a little more popular.