Netflix has no chill

Streaming services soar while theaters close their doors

Annie Symons, Staff Reporter

Illustration by Micky Flores-Nieves

While the COVID-19 pandemic led to the unfortunate demise of many events and social trends, one industry in particular has continued to grow each day. 

As many movie theaters temporarily shut down in an effort to keep their attendees healthy, streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu and HBO Max welcome new subscribers who still wish to watch newly released films and television shows. 

Cinema fans may miss the tempting smells of buttery popcorn and even the overpriced bags of candy that they associate with theaters, but streaming services offer a wide variety of entertaining options for a cozy night alone or a family movie night.

Sophomore Asian studies major Mariah Olson watched a few movies in the theater after moving to Seattle from her home state of Nebraska, but she grew to rely on popular streaming websites once quarantining became necessary.

“I can watch them from the convenience of my own home or my dorm,” Olson said. 

Streaming off of these services tends to hold more benefits than a classic movie theater experience, including the price. Many services offer a month of unlimited streaming for a similar price as that of a single movie ticket. 

“Not being in a theater has definitely cut down costs for me,” Olson said. “There’s the act of driving to the places and getting food and snacks, and I don’t have to spend money on any of that.” 

Olson stated that she undoubtedly benefits from streaming services, but she acknowledged that she misses watching films in the theater. 

“I do miss the experiences that we got…being there in person and sitting with friends instead of having to look at a computer screen all day,” Olson said.

Although Olson would rather have the option to view movies in the theater rather than solely in her dorm room, she chooses to remain patient until regulations regarding the pandemic begin to improve. 

“We’ve got to work with what we have,” Olson said. 

Through many months spent sheltering in place, many have grown to prefer the convenience and comfort that streaming services provide. Junior Lauren Cain, an english literature and secondary education double major,  appreciates streaming websites, but she confessed to missing the atmosphere of movie theaters.

“It’s a fun, exciting experience. You get to go out, maybe put on a cute outfit, you get to go hang out with your friends, and just enjoy a movie together,” Cain said. It’s a fun activity that you get to do with other people, and you don’t have to talk or socialize but you still get to share an experience together, and I think that’s a special thing.” 

In these times full of darkness, isolation, and anxiety, streaming services provide many with a temporary sense of comfort, but movie theaters foster small communities — even in a dark, silent space. 

“Going to the movie theater is a really fun collective experience,” Cain said. “It’s really different, like you get to just sit around and enjoy a movie with strangers while also enjoying a snack. It sounds kind of creepy, but it’s actually so fun.”

Cain noted that movies premiering on streaming services instead of in theaters do not usually spark the same level of interest or excitement among future viewers. 

“You miss all the anticipation of the movie as well, not knowing what to expect besides the trailer. There isn’t as much anticipation now that we don’t really go to movie theaters anymore. I mean you can look forward to it and be excited, but it’s not the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic established Netflix and other streaming sites as formidable forces in the entertainment industry, but Olson, Cain, and other lovers of cinema remain hopeful that theaters will soon be able to safely host moviegoers without requiring masks or social distancing.

However, until that day arrives, streaming services keep the film industry afloat by providing suitable, cost-effective options for the release of new movies. Cain is one of the grateful subscribers who benefits from this modern movie experience during such unpredictable times.

Senior Maddy Knapp, a film studies major, finds streaming services helpful and unifying in a time of distress.

“It’s given me an escape from reality,” Knapp said.

Streaming services that include nostalgic films and television shows provide students and other young viewers with a comforting sense of nostalgia, which new releases in theaters cannot always guarantee.

“I definitely fell in a hole of rewatching a lot of my favorite movies,” Knapp said.

Knapp frequently watched films in theaters when safety protocols did not prohibit her from doing so. She longs to return soon once it becomes a safe activity, but she praises streaming services for releasing films in the meantime.

“While I will always be a huge fan of going to movie theaters and nothing can really replace that experience, I’m glad that movies have been released on various streaming platforms that weren’t able to premiere in theaters…it’s helped a lot with shortening the distance between [people].”