Saturday, January 18, 2014

Embracing the Second Window

I've gone on something of a movie theater binge over the last couple of days, thanks to a couple of gift cards I got for Christmas and an unusually strong Oscar season. Expect the flood of film reviews to continue over the next few weeks. However, there's also the very strong likelihood that this is the last Oscar season I'm going to be able to really be able to fully participate in for quite some time. You see, I've got a major life change coming my way this year that's going to mean my ability to go out to see movies in theaters is going to be drastically, drastically curtailed. I'm looking at my once-a-month habit going down to maybe one or two special trips to the theaters a year for the next couple of years.

This doesn't bother me too much, really. I've known it was coming for a long time now, and there really aren't all that many movies that I'm anticipating so much that I feel I have to see them in theaters. I've been going out less and less often anyway. Ticket prices have been going up in my area again, to the point where the cost of my usual morning matinees finally broke the $8 mark - that's a month of Netflix or Amazon Prime, remember. On the horizon, the next "Star Wars" movie in 2015 is probably the only title I'd seriously consider making an effort to see in a theater with a big audience. And in that case, thanks to Disney's content deal with Netflix, I expect it should show up on the usual streaming services no more than two years later, before the inevitable sequel comes down the pipeline.

Or there are always rentals, which I've been depending on more these days. Netflix and Redbox discs have been a pretty good substitute for Blockbuster. Itunes and I have been getting along, though I still have some quibbles about their selection. Most mainstream films are available by disc in four to six months these days, though as always the indies and foreign films take much, much longer because of different release patterns. However, more and more I've seen the proliferation of VOD, the "second pay window" that lets you watch a relatively new film from home for roughly the same price as a theater ticket (the first pay window is the theatrical run). I expect that this is how I'm going to end up watching a lot of the movies that I usually go to see in theaters - PIXAR and Disney films, superhero movies, and science-fiction spectacles.

Initially, I didn't really understand the appeal of VOD, but it does provide a nice middle ground between going to the theater and waiting for rentals. It didn't make sense to me not to wait an extra few weeks for a movie to hit the rental shelves that I didn't care enough about to see in theaters. However, I've found that I do place a value on seeing certain films in a timely manner. Oscar season's no fun if you haven't seen a good chunk of the major contenders and have the knowledge to form your own opinions and argue them. There aren't many movies that become real cultural touchstones anymore like "Inception" or "Avatar," but when they do appear, they tend to get cycled through the media and people's conversations at a much faster rate these days. If theater trips are out for the foreseeable future, then VOD is the next best thing. Waiting three months for a VOD release isn't too bad of a delay, but six months? Everyone else has moved on, and extra vigilance is required to avoid spoilers people will assume are common knowledge already.

Am I even going to be able to stay at all current with the media landscape though? Is it worth it to try? Probably not. I'm not even sure I can continue this blog in its current form once the major life change happens. Updates are probably going to be drastically reduced and irregular for a few months, but I am determined to keep this blog going, if only to keep my writing skills up. I don't think there should be much of an impact on the content though - I don't review many new movies and shows to begin with, and older content is often much more rewarding to write about than the blockbuster of the week. I'm usually not current with the television posts anyway. The more general media gossip isn't hard to keep up with, and speculation requires fairly little context if you've got a solid idea of how the industry works.

So watch this space for more changes, and be assured that though your friendly neighborhood Miss Media Junkie has some real life to deal with, she is still going to be hanging around in some capacity.

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