There is a one question quiz at the end of this blog…
I used to have a running list of all the movies I couldn’t wait to see. Right now it’s only 1. It doesn’t matter what movie that is (It’s LINCOLN), it only matters that 1 movie doesn’t make a list. What happened?… TV happened.
TV used to be shows that were mostly shot in a 3 camera set up on a sound stage. Shot on tape and every episode had a story line that started at the top. Then 30 to 60 minutes later you had your episodic ending.
Movies were entirely different worlds that took you on an exciting ride through a story that was “much too big” to be on TV.
Then THE SOPRANOS happened. At least that’s when I noticed it. Other shows were starting this too, but THE SOPRANOS took it to a new level. They started shooting on film or HD like movies, they switched to a one camera style and edited like the movies we were used to seeing at the cinema. And the story didn’t always finish with a pretty bow at the end of the episode. Sometimes it took whole seasons for a story line to fully run its course. Then all of a sudden they started making seasons shorter. Even taking long breaks from production. They were basically making mini movies for every episode. For an hour show, that’s only 30 minutes less than a short movie!
The other day I was watching SHERLOCK. A season with only 3 episodes, and the running times? 88 Minutes. 88 Minutes. and 89 Minutes. THOSE ARE MOVIES! I asked myself, “Is this any different than watching Robert Downey Jr?” The answer is yes. #1 – I’m watching it at home. #2 – there are not HUGE special effects and explosions.
Then my mind started racing. Everyone I know is freaking out about TV! Even the huge comic book flicks were less spectacular this year. People want to watch Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy, and Game of Thrones, and Sherlock, and Doctor Who, and Mad Men, and (Do I need to keep going?)
How did this happen?
I think TV had a long term, carefully executed, plan of action to take the audience away from the films. In a changing world with everything streaming directly to your home and played on a screen / sound system that rivals small theaters, there was nothing to stop them. They shortened their seasons, and used the savings to add movie-like production value. They gave us the scope of the cinema and held onto the one thing for which TV has always had the advantage: The ability to build a character over the course of many episodes and seasons, as opposed to the entire character’s growth happening in the span of 2 hours. Now looking at Sherlock again, if a season is 3 episodes long, and an episode is 90 minutes long, how is that not a movie with 2 sequels? Plus, if you’re anything like me you want to buy the whole season at once and BINGE on 5 to 10 episodes at a time! It is so exciting to be sitting on a Breaking Bad cliff hanger and fumble with the remote through your excitement to get the next episode playing!
So what are films doing? Are they really using band-aid gimmicks like 3D to win the audience back? Isn’t this fad of prequels and sequels basically another “episode” in a TV show that you can’t watch at home? The movies that draw crowds are the huge, tent-pole, comic book/disaster movies that are still a bit too epic for television. But how long will that be true? How long will it take for investors in film to look at Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and decide they’d rather invest less money, for a better product, that lasts longer?
Ready for that 1 question quiz? Put your answers in the comments. In all honesty I want to hear your thoughts.
1) What can movies do to stay alive?
- Joe McClean
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