Netflix: The Future of Television and Cinema’s Newest Rival
A new “Daredevil” series has been recently launched on Netflix, and for those of you that haven’t seen it, it’s surprisingly awesome (which the 2003 Ben Affleck version was anything but), and for those of you that have seen it, I probably share your awe. We’re all aware of the trend in Hollywood with comic book adaptations being very popular with moviegoers, and lately audience’s appetite for this genre has extended to TV as well, with shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the various Batman and Spider-Man cartoons for kids over the years. It’s exciting because there’s a lot of ground to cover with each Marvel/DC character’s stories, and many have a rich rogue gallery where certain characters sometimes can’t make it to the big screen (I’m still waiting for Kraven the Hunter to make it in a Spider-Man film *sigh*), but a TV series can bring those characters to life. It’s also interesting that a “Daredevil” reboot got the TV treatment instead of another attempt at a film franchise, but it’s ultimately for the better because it gives the creators more opportunities to expand on the characters and one of the show’s strengths is its rich character development. Seriously, there were times where I almost understood the villains more than the titular hero. And it does a good job of sticking with the tone of the Marvel Universe, while creating its own “world” so to speak, so for all you Marvel Universe junkies, this gives you a lot more to digest than a 2-hour comic book movie. So maybe the superhero genre can really benefit from Netflix adaptations?
Like I would’ve liked to have seen is a Netflix adaptation of Watchmen for example. It would’ve been the perfect medium for the critically acclaimed graphic novel, which is divided into 12 intriguing chapters, and could’ve also made 12 well-developed episodes of a Netflix mini-series. Unfortunately because of the recent film adaptation, this is likely not gonna happen. One of the problems I had with the movie version of it is was the fact that much of the storyline got rushed (you can’t really blame the filmmakers though, that’s a lot of material to cram into three hours), they scrapped quite a few minor characters, and a lot of backstory from the graphic novel was missing that added extra layers to the narrative. But if it was designed for Netflix viewing, they could’ve easily made each chapter a one-hourish episode, and all the stuff that helped make Watchmen as interesting as it was could’ve been brought back in (hooray for more Hollis Mason!). Of course, they’d also have to avoid doing what the film did in making it feel less like going through the motions of the comic panels and more like dynamic entertainment. Plus since unlike movies and TV, Netflix content isn’t tampered with a ratings board that forces them to tone down certain aspects regarding sex, violence, language, etc. so they can go as hard as they want, and stay faithful to the brutality of the graphic novel.
Netflix is already doing something similar with Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events book series, and it’ll probably be really exciting to see how that plays out. After the first film came out, and they never made any sequels to it unfortunately due to not enough box office performance, it’ll be fun to see the other books finally get a live-action adaptation. Plus, it’s a lot of material to cover, so there’s most likely gonna be more than one season, which gives viewers another show to get hooked on. Basically, Netflix is a really exciting piece of progress for television because it opens up many possibilities for both original content and faithful adapted works, and judging from the original content they’ve put out, such as House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Hemlock Grove, etc., they seem to have a very “the sky’s the limit” approach to their shows where they aren’t being governed by ridiculous studio pressures or ratings boards, they just try to make things they hope certain people will find entertaining, and they’ve had a lot of success through doing that. Is Netflix the hero that filmgoers and TV lovers deserve?
And now to where that leads TV’s other competition: film. It’s already been covered how doing book adaptations on Netflix is a better way to go because it opens more doors in terms of faithfulness. And many book adaptations that get the film treatment are often met with criticism for not sticking to the book as much and leaving out a lot of information that could be necessary, and Netflix kinda solves those problems. But with rising ticket prices, and some pretty lackluster releases being put into cineplexes lately (which is probably what’s causing diminishing box office performances), it’s no surprise that people are sticking to their favorite streaming service. Heck, it costs more to buy a ticket for one movie than it is to pay $8 a month for a pretty large selection of movies and television that you can watch any time.
And on top of all this, some people working in the film industry are turning to this popular streaming outlet for future business ventures. This article alone talks about the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel is getting distributed through Netflix much to the anger of theater chains like AMC, Regal, and Cinemark, and how Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have signed a four-picture deal with them, and business moves like this are probably just the beginning, which means less money for theater chains. Now that’s not to say that theater chains will go out of business eventually–they won’t. Movie theaters are going to be around for a long, long time. But it certainly does pose a threat, especially since Netflix original content is generally better relieved than most movies that come out during the year. So if the film industry wants to fill up seats in the cinema again, they’ll either have to come up with better films for people to see, or they’ll probably just gonna come up with some new gimmick to win people back. Back in the 50′s when the TV industry was on the rise, widescreen was created to enhance the spectacle of moviegoing and bring people back to the theater, and the recent abundant use of 3D has been a similar phenomenon, and there’ll probably be something else in the future that’ll make people wanna see stuff on the big screen again (they could also you know, lower ticket prices, but things like inflation have pretty much shot that horse in the face).