Hollywood executives favor Netflix less and less for these reasons, among others:
There is evidence that Netflix's streaming service discourages users from purchasing newly released DVDs. The studios see indications that for even hit films, which likely won't appear on Netflix's streaming service for years, some Netflix subscribers are satisfied to wait until they do.Really, Hollywood executives? You wander through life carrying the expectation that large numbers of people are going to purchase DVDs soon after they're released -- and that they'd do so if not for Netflix's meddlesome streaming service? Good for you. Keep reaching for the stars, won't you? You're adorable.
I wouldn't think so, but it would seem Hollywood moguls have failed to notice that most newly-released DVDs were, very recently, available in theaters. At any given time, most of the movies showing in theaters are shit, and I have found that terrible movies do not improve -- in the quality of the screenplay, directing, acting, visual effects, sound mixing, costume design, etc. -- upon being transferred to playable disk. I can't think of a single counterexample, in fact.
Consider the talkies currently playing at Portland's Lloyd Mall theater -- the outdoors Lloyd Mall theater, Portlanders!* Here's that lineup with my ever-helpful [annotations]:
Rango [The best that can be said for it: Jonny Depp is not playing that goddamn pirate this time.]I see precious little on this list I would willingly purchase in disk form. If Hollywood moguls are building their business model on the idea that people will purchase disks soon after release, and at prevailing retail prices for new releases ($15 and up), then their business model deserves to fail with or without Netflix.
The Adjustment Bureau [Proposed tagline: where confusing, uninteresting, and profoundly implausible collide for two hours. Granted, that could apply to quite a few movies, but that doesn't make it right.]
Hall Pass [Ha ha! That allegedly funny man said something scatalogical, and that other one said something misogynistic -- but it's, like, satire or something! In short, this is scat dipped in guano.]
Unknown [a.k.a. Taken II: Takin' It Back. Watch as 68-year old Liam Neeson growls and punches his way through dozens of men half his age to win back the love of Don Draper's ex-wife. You could, but why would you?]
I Am Number Four [You are too kind to yourself -- actually, you're shit.]
Take Me Home Tonight [No. No way.]
The King's Speech [English royals, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, and did I say English royals? If I am not mistaken, this is one of those priceless talkies where they make sure to keep ladies off the screen almost completely --- which is really for the best, don't you think? If only they'd worked in a Holocaust side-story, it would have won every single Oscar instead of only half of them. That said, I want to see it (English royals!); I will buy it only if it is considerably better than it seems.]
Gnomeo and Juliet [A movie that will disappoint kids and appall adults -- something for everyone!]
Drive Angry 3D [Could someone remind Nicholas Cage he's past due for that delicate stage of his career when he secrets himself away in a 50,000 acre compound in the wilds and stores his own urine in jars for the next 40 years?]
True Grit [Maybe not great, but very good. I'd buy this for a fair price.]
The accusations against Netflix go on:
Films offered on Netflix lose value rapidly. Some cable and traditional broadcasters won't go near a title once Netflix begins streaming it ... The prevailing feeling among the studio managers I spoke with is that Netflix's streaming service will be a good outlet for the least-valuable material. If they have their way, Netflix will be the Internet equivalent of a swap meet, where only the most dated and least popular titles are available. The studios are betting that eventually people will get bored with the service. [emphasis mine]Strange. Strange because, speaking as a Netflix subscriber going way, way back to the days when they etched the movies onto cave walls and then shipped the cave to your house, I was pretty sure that's already the way the streaming service operates -- as an outlet for the least-watchable, least-desirable material. I have never quite understood the version of Netflix subscription that is streaming-only for a little less per month --- do people really want or need a subscription service to watch back episodes of My Name is Earl, My So-Called Life, That 70s Show, third rate movies, and the world's treasury of mediocre documentaries? Don't those kinds of things just come at us unbidden if we have a television? Isn't that the sort of junk that drove us away from just watching broadcast tee-vee in the first place? It was either that or the non-stop commercials, or a combination of both.
Judging from Netflix's "top 100" listing of its most sought-after titles, my impression is correct -- as of this writing, only nine of the films are available via streaming; the other 91 are only available via physical disk through the mail.
All of this confirms what I have always believed about Netflix -- that it is good for one and only one thing, namely, as a means of renting high-quality films of past and present that are basically impossible to find otherwise. That it pushed the likes of Blockbuster over a cliff is not, from that perspective, a bad thing, since Blockbuster's offerings have always been heavily biased toward new releases which are, as we've covered, generally not worth much. (Whereas I would definitely bother to do the brick-and-mortar movie rental thing if the selection were better.)
I have no strong rooting interest in either Hollywood executives or Netflix --- both have their place, and both give plenty of reason to despise the industry of which they're a part, so I am somewhat like a Portland Trailblazers fan watching a game between the Lakers and the Spurs. Go injuries, I say!
* Not the Lloyd Mall theater located inside the mall. We in Puddle-Town are endlessly bedeviled by two Lloyd Mall theaters, separated by the crow-flight distance a strong man could heave a large potato.