Now this is interesting (from Rolling Stone):
No doubt you’ve heard plenty about the return of Arrested Development for a fourth season, this time on Netflix, which paid to resurrect the old Fox sitcom for 15 streaming-only episodes. It follows on the heels of Netflix’s successful and much-buzzed-about original series House of Cards, which began streaming on the service’s website in February. And you may even have heard about Netflix’s upcoming original series over the next year, created by some of the most respected names in TV and movies.
What may have escaped your notice, however, is the debut of Netflix’s first original feature film. It’s a comedy called Shotgun Wedding, and it debuted on the site on April Fools Day. There may have been little fanfare, but what if the original movie hints at another direction for the home-video giant? Netflix has already become a TV studio that demands comparisons with the likes of HBO and Showtime. Is it about to challenge Hollywood and become a movie studio as well?
The article notes a downside for Netflix in producing movies as opposed to series:
One reason Netflix may have been more reluctant to embrace feature filmmaking than long-form series is simply the cost of each. Sure, it’s expensive to make a quality series; Netflix spent an estimated $100 million on two 13-episode seasons of House of Cards. Still, that move yielded a net increase of 2 million new subscribers. At $8 per month, those new subscribers will have paid for House of Cards in just over six months. Plus, costs will be offset by sales of the series on DVD and Blu-ray.
A quality feature film, however, with A-list stars, a top-notch script and director, and glossy production values, can run anywhere from tens to hundreds of millions of dollars. A two-hour feature won’t have the same subscriber allure as a 13-hour series, and it’ll generate only one disc for the DVD market.
But then there’s this:
Netflix has only encouraged binge-viewing; instead of releasing its series in one episode per week, like HBO and the other traditional TV networks do, it releases them in their entirety at once. Without standard episode-ending cliffhangers, House of Cards just seems like one really long movie.
And maybe that’s the way Netflix will become a movie studio: by changing our definition of what a movie is. It’s not going to be a two-hour, self-contained story you watch in a theater, but a tale of open-ended length that you watch at your convenience on whatever screen you have with you.
This last point is what interests me most. With the cross-pollination of movie writers and TV writers, where TV is becoming more ‘cinematic,’ combined with consumers used to getting what they want when they want how they want, no longer as confined by network’s schedules or in a media entertainment environment dominated by YouTube even necessarily how long viewable content is supposed to be, what if the very idea of a movie will go through a sea change.
Think about it: Where did this idea of a movie clocking in between 100-120 minutes emerge from? In the very beginning, movies were one-reelers no more than 12-15 minutes in length (that was how much film could be spooled onto one reel).
What if there is no such thing as TV? What if movies come to mean everything from short films to half-hour to traditional two-hours to multiple episode entertainment like House of Cards that comes across in effect as a movie.
I mean if it quacks like a movie and walks like a movie… maybe it just is a movie, no matter how short or long it is, what delivery system it use, etc.
That poses an interesting thought, doesn’t it? Here we’re all caught up in TV up, movies down when what may be happening is everything is going to become some sort of movie. This dynamic could be hastened as our “home entertainment centers” (not even called televisions anymore) become bigger, more sophisticated, like a small movie theater.
Maybe the people at Netflix have already seen this. If “House of Cards” is not really a TV series, maybe it’s more of a serialized movie. And maybe that’s pointing toward an amalgam where movies become pretty much everything we see.
For more of the Rolling Stone article, go here.