5 Advantages Movies Always Had Over TV (That TV Stole Away)
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 ...
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 ...
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.
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 ...
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 ...
IMAX Is Becoming TV and TV Is Becoming IMAX
Your standard Game of Thrones episode consists of layers of gooey sex and gore wrapped around a fantasy plot like a Quesarito of delicious sin. At its best, the show rewards horrific burning-to-death sequences with immediate nudity and dragons.
Like the first mixing of peanut butter and jelly, people didn't even know
they wanted it until it was already there.
For HBO, it's a step up from ho-hum boobs and murder to a much grander scale of boobs and murder -- the network crossing over into epic territory and setting the stabby sex bar for equally entertaining copycat shows like Marco Polo and Vikings. It's only natural that we would want that shit to get an IMAX release, which is exactly what happened earlier this year when GoT became the first TV show to ever be digitally restored and shown on the super-big screen. Overall, it was a win-win for both the show and IMAX, which appeared to be hitting a bit of a wall lately ...
There's more people sitting in that poster than were sitting in that theater.
But besides Game of Thrones being wicked boss, why would IMAX feel the need to drum up an event like this in the first place? Probably because the company (which is still recovering from a dip in revenue) is looking ahead to the rise in television and home entertainment in general. Turns out that, as the HDTV industry grows, IMAX has been planning a slow transition to selling smaller versions of their own screens to wealthy Chinese customers -- hoping to eventually extend their technology into the American home theater market as well. So, with any luck, by 2021 we'll all be enjoying the GoT finale on our newfangled home IMAX theater -- right around the time George R.R. Martin putters out the release of Winds of Winter.
It makes you wonder why the film industry is going to need theaters in the first place, especially when ...
Sundance Is Becoming a Festival of TV Shows and VOD Releases
The biggest milestone of the digital era is that it makes the world way less exclusive. Take Cracked for example. There once was a time where the quickest way to get your voice heard by a few hundred thousand people was either a query letter to a large publication or firing enough warning shots in the air for the evening news to show up. Now, any pantsless word-beast can simply head over to our handy writers forum and get published. This is why my resume went from "delivery person" to "editor" in the span of a few years -- and yet this is still considered unusual for other online publications looking to appear more exclusive.
My pantslessness is still the same, though.
Similarly was the film industry immensely restrictive on account of the expense and time that went into processing film. Before digital, much more craftsmanship and money went into the process. These days, anyone with a good enough camera can make something that could potentially be sold in the VOD market -- the rise of which has turned independent filmmaking into a greased-up orgy of opportunity. So, while the studio box office was below average this year, it's never been better for indie films, thanks to alternate options like iTunes and Netflix. No longer are entries at Sundance worried about getting theatrical distribution, as the majority of movies playing there this year will end up on VOD instead. Heck, Sundance has even begun letting in television pilots like the upcoming animated series Animals -- the bargain-basement that was once TV now becoming one of those hip vintage stores below a vegan kebab shop called "Gentrifried Chicken" or some shit.
My point is this: Every time we see a new form of entertainment take precedence, it doesn't mean the old stuff is dead. That "Golden Age" of film? Its death came with the introduction of widescreen -- meaning that it didn't kill film so much as it made it stronger. And now we're seeing a new transition where the stigma of television being an old-person pacifier is dissolving, and the barrier between mediums is toppling. Either that, or I'm just getting older and the simplicity of TV is becoming more appealing OH PLEASE GOD THAT CAN'T BE IT.
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For more from Dave, check out Dear Hollywood, The New Alien Movie Makes No Goddamn Sense and 4 Signs Harrison Ford Is a Blind Guy Acting Like He Can See.
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