The moxie-laden "Golden Age" of Hollywood collapsed in part from the rise of television -- which took the appeal of cinema and combined it with the convenience and zero-prices of radio. In response, movies turned into spectacle events -- leading to the rise of 3D, drive-ins, and bullshit "4D" gimmicks like Smell-O-Vision and The Tingler, which is much less pornographic than you're imagining.
Hey. How familiar is this all sounding?
Streaming sites like Netflix have essentially posed the exact same threat that television once did: Compared with cable, it might as well be free, and it combines two mediums into one convenient form of entertainment. So, while the traditional film industry probably isn't going anywhere, we're once more at a time of transition, the result being that television and film will soon be indistinguishable from each other ...
#5. TV Shows Are Bloody and Filled With Sex, While Movies Are Censored
Ten years ago, this country was knuckle-deep in an R-rated zombie movie craze. If I was told back then to choose between a big-budget Brad Pitt zombie film or a hit show about the undead on AMC, I'd immediately dismiss the Shawshank Redemption channel over seeing Johnny Suede shovel the undead on a hundred-million-dollar pile of goreslaw.
And I'd be wrong.
There's more sweet goreslaw in this shot than all of World War Z.
And what's weirder than TV featuring the more grotesque is the fact that it's somehow less glorifying to do so. Growing up with parents who paid very little mind to gory films like Aliens and Terminator, I was always baffled when my father would shake his head at TV shows like America's Funniest Home Videos for glorifying violence. As I got older, the logic finally clicked when watching World War Z and The Lone Ranger gruesomely slaughter hundreds of people without actually showing the bloody consequences in the same indifferent way that AFV slaps goofy music and laugh tracks over dogs getting concussions.
The national hard-on for PG-13 has turned R-rated premises like Die Hard into pre-edited-for-TV movies, John McClane being forced to censor the word "motherfucker" over the sound of him murdering someone with a gun.
And murdering your interest in the franchise.
And thanks to a study from Ohio State University, we know that gun violence has actually become more prevalent in PG-13 than R films, due to the MPAA's preference for death over blood, dick, and boobies.
So as television and streaming move to an era of decapitation and rimjobs on network TV -- movies like Fifty Shades of Grey are too scared to show a man's wang. That means if dicks fired lasers they would have a better chance of being represented in films for the cauterized violence. But that's not the only way that TV and film are switching roles ...
#4. Every Old Movie Is Being Remade as a TV Show
When first hearing of the 2013 Evil Dead remake, I guffawed to such a high guttural decibel that it blew the driving goggles clear off the specter of my forefathers' leather aviator caps. Later I learned that this was a dream brought on by sleep apnea, but the sentiment remains that same. Everyone whines about remakes and late sequels -- me especially. But the moment I heard about an Evil Dead series coming to Starz, I was surprisingly OK with that. Maybe I'm just movie racist, but I'm pretty sure there's a fan-wide amount of forgiveness for films moving to TV because, even if it's canon, a shitty television show is way easier to ignore than a terrible film.
Meanwhile, we've been doing the opposite for years. Every old TV show from The Flintstones to Aeon Flux gets the movie treatment -- most of which drop off the collective consciousness on account of being aggressively forgettable. With the exception of The Beverly Hillbillies movie and maybe The Untouchables, I'm hard-pressed to even finger a TV adaptation that stood the harsh test of time.
20th Century Fox
Pictured: The classic staircase scene.
And so it's our acceptance (or apathy) about bringing movies to television that has now led to the upcoming TV versions of: Wet Hot American Summer, Scream, 12 Monkeys, Big, The Illusionist, Minority Report, Rush Hour, Problem Child, In Good Company, Real Genius, Uncle Buck, and In the Heat of the Night ... because there's just no other way to make Americans interested in cop dramas without attaching the brand recognition of Sidney Poitier.
"If 2015 cops are going to repeat tense race relations, why can't 2015 TV repeat our stories about them?"
Television has become a convenient sideline for films we're not quite sure need to be remade, like the failed Beverly Hills Cop and Say Anything series, as well as superheroes that Marvel just doesn't have the time to adapt like Daredevil and The Defenders. While that might sound dismissive -- that couldn't be further from the truth. Because, these days, being on television is actually a pretty good indication that a plot is going to be awesome ...
#3. Movies Are Getting Episodic While TV Is Attracting Artists
Back in 1997, Helen Hunt won the best actress Oscar for As Good as It Gets -- a moment that was praised at the time for being an incredible step forward from television stardom. Almost two decades later, award champions like Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are carrying out presidential three-ways on your home television. Kevin Bacon, Halle Berry, Jodie Foster, Dustin Hoffman, and Colin Farrell are just a handful of credible film actors who have moved to a medium that was once considered schlock, not to mention that most of the recent Oscar nominees have had prominent television roles in the past.
Why is this happening? Because as much as we might enjoy them, the cinematic movie universes making the most money are actually pushing actors away.
Obviously there are exceptions -- but generally speaking a film like Iron Man 2 doesn't need an actor like Mickey Rourke to give amazing dedication and research to play an '80s Russian villain in raver pants. Chris Evans might do an amazing job playing Captain America, but being locked into a decade of playing the same stoic character is fucking boring. Big-budget franchises have basically become the equivalent of television series in terms of years of commitment, which is why actors like Jon Hamm have turned down multiple superhero roles to avoid "draconian" contracts.
Not to mention his existing superhero role as Captain Bitchface.
But it's not just superhero movies; shooting The Hobbit took yet another year of precious "Patrick Stewart friendship" time off of Ian McKellen's funny hat-wearing life. And as films are becoming more episodic, TV is moving to shorter-term character-based anthologies like True Detective. A classic actress like Jessica Lange gets to inhabit a different character once a season in American Horror Story, and The Walking Dead is able to constantly rotate actors with the power of zombie death. When's the last time a major character died in a film series? Shows like Mad Men and the David Fincher soap opera House of Cards burn through major characters like they're farm cats -- creating a level of actual tension that most contractually locked-in movie franchises lack.
Oh, right -- did I mention that film directors are also making the jump to television? Along with Fincher, Steven Soderbergh, Guillermo del Toro, and Martin Scorsese are putting out more quality TV shows than films. Conversely, we're seeing television directors who are used to conforming to broad styles like Alan Taylor and the Russo Brothers taking over million-dollar big-screen franchises. And while we're talking about the big screen ...