The Media, They Are A Changin’: A Future Of Cinematic Television

The Media, They Are A Changin': A Future Of Cinematic Television
IMAX Theatre - source: IMAX Corporation

Cinema is changing. As much as some are proclaiming its death, the medium has to change. Media has to adapt to survive. Even cinema’s biggest competitor is facing harsh times. Television ratings are in a decline. Networks must face fierce competition with broadcast TV and streaming service. The digital age has brought upon tough years for the media landscape. Social Media is impacting how we view films. Hiding spoilers is a tough challenge due to leaks.

Newspapers are going digital, television is losing viewers, and cinema is trying to adapt. AMC considered to find a way for people to text while watching a film. This idea was not well received, but other concepts are floating in the air. The most notable is IMAX cooperation with ABC for a new TV series. The first two episodes of the planned The Inhumans series will air in cinemas. In a way, the first two episodes will be a movie that will continue on television. This could be a potential for many more projects. Could we see a new wave of cinematic television? What does this mean for the future of cinema?

Cooperative Media

In reality, mediums cooperating is not new. IMAX has shown Game of Thrones episodes in cinemas before. Theaters even filmed their shows live for streams in cinemas. Monty Python Live (Mostly) would be a good example of this. Cinema is a diverse medium. People use it to have parties while watching movies or even play video games. Some just like using the environment for meetings or interviews. Television wanting to cooperate with cinemas is a logical step forward.

The Media, They Are A Changin': A Future Of Cinematic Television
Monty Python Live (Mostly) – source: Gold TV

With digital media at a constant rise, others working together is a good move. TV has already been cooperation with cinemas, so co-producing could enhance viewers experience. Some would disagree, as TV already has influenced film too much. Cinematic universes are nothing more than using TV storytelling devices for film franchises. No matter the opinion on the topic, this might be the future our media will be heading towards.

Media Advantages

If there is any true advantage, it would be rise in quality for TV. Many shows are trying to achieve that cinematic appeal. It is easier for broadcast networks in comparison to classic networks. They are dependent on their viewership and advertisers. IMAX getting involved will allow bigger and less dependent budgets for shows. TV is heading away from the 22 episode minimal limit towards smaller, self-contained seasons.

The Inhumans will only have 8 episodes, which is rather unusual for ABC. This is even less than other Marvel TV shows have. Only the first two will be in cinemas, but the other six will air on TV. This ensures that the quality level will consists across the entire series. This is a massive advantage for the viewers that want better quality TV.

The Media, They Are A Changin': A Future Of Cinematic Television
Beasts of No Nation – source: Bleecker Street / Netflix

I talked about television, but how does cinema profit from this? Cinema and networks share the same competition. Film are also produced and distributed through streaming services. Netflix has received attention for its films like Beasts of No Nation. Cinemas are trying to keep viewers in, but fewer viewers means higher prices. If people feel more comfortable at home, why even go to a cinema at all? It seems that the a shared enemy truly builds new friendships.

Nothing Is Perfect

IMAX is quite expensive for movie-goers. It could be difficult to sell people on the concept. Spending a considerable sum to go the movies and watch two episodes of a show. Afterwards, having to wait another one or two months until you can continue watching the show. It is a time and monetary investment that could scare off viewers. Some may just decide to watch it at home when it airs.

It seems they are investing a lot into this project, which makes it even more important that they sell it. If the first trailers can’t sell people on the IMAX flair, future projects could fail. Maybe a Marvel show was the right choice for this endeavor. It is a massive brand that attracts viewers, and could be an advantage to at least draw attention.

The Media, They Are A Changin': A Future Of Cinematic Television
Game of Thrones – source: HBO

Television might also suffer from this. IMAX shows the first two episodes months in advance. That means a marginal part of the viewership might not view it on TV. Having seen it in theaters, ABC might not deliver the quality they want to see it on. There is a difference between the viewing experience. This could impact the viewership of the show. It is unclear if the viewership in cinema will impact if we will receive a second season of the show. Without the viewers, this cooperation may not continue. Game of Thrones could also offer a counter point. After airing first in cinemas, it still got a considerable amount of viewers.

Conclusion

It is difficult to predict the future. This endeavor allows both mediums to head in a new direction. No matter how people feel about it, this may be the future. Films and TV have lived side-by-side for years. Seeing both of them interact this way may have been inevitable. If this project will succeed, only time can tell. TV could finally get that cinematic feel it always wanted to achieve. Network television can survive alongside their competitors.

Adapting is essential for any medium. Times are changing and so must everyone else. Their survival tactics could offer new experiences for viewers. No matter how often cinema’s death is talked about, the medium can survive. It once was an event going to cinema. A feeling that some may have lost with time. These exclusive TV pilots could rejuvenated cinema for years to come.

Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.
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Joseph Aberl

Joseph is an Austro-American media and communications student currently living in Austria, who grew up with film most of his life. Having won a new appreciation of cinema as an art form and as an industry, he aims to learn as much about it as he can.