HBO Max, The Disappearing Movie, and the Forgotten Era of Streaming – The Hollywood Reporter

French director, film critic and film buff, Francois Truffaut once suggested a thought experiment. Imagine, he said, that there is only one copy of a book and that copy is kept in a single library, and you can only read it while in that library. This is how cinema lovers are obligated to examine their desired audiences before theaters, videotape and streaming platforms put cinema’s elusive history, long, out of reach. , into the palm of our hand.

A reminder of how inaccessible the motion picture legacy can be – and how dependent it is on the whims of a corporate magnate – that came on August 2 when two news items linked to each other. Officials attack commercial entertainment websites with eye-smashing force: Bat girl, the latest entry in the DC Universe process, a movie that’s essentially in the box (to use similar terminology), didn’t receive a commercial release – theatrical, streaming, or live video continued – but was instead ditto by its underwriters at Warner Bros. Discovery. Deciding to join Bat girl – not to mention Scoob! Holiday haunting, because nobody does – is business, not personal. Take a cue from the scheming Max Bialystock in Mel Brooks’s Producer (1967), Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav calculated that a $90 million production would benefit from tax relief rather than revenue. Instead of risk Bat girl became a hit on opening night, à la Youth for Hitlerhe decided to press the delete key.

The Bat girl The signal coincided with Warner Bros.’s plan. Discovery to combine the Discovery+ and HBO Max streaming services. At that point, subscribers noticed another erasure: some of the following category titles from HBO Max have mysteriously disappeared from the platform. If The witches and American style pickles has gone down a black hole, could selection titles in the HBO and TCM catalog be next? Suddenly, a generation of detoxes for instant access and limitless options have learned that the corporate entities that own the movies – sorry, “content” – can dismiss them as they see fit. Fit. Literally.

That might not be a bad thing. The no-nonsense, no-nonsense approach to world cinema’s classics is a very recent phenomenon. For Generations X to Z, realizing that endless movie headlines can be cut off at the source can be a useful life lesson.

The plot – also the life experiences of moviegoers of a certain age – is instructive. For most of the first century of cinema, moviegoers went to cinemas in motion in the physical world and watched what exhibitors projected on screens. Then, starting in the 1980s, videotapes brought hard copies of the film into the hands of consumers, who can now play at home. Finally, at the turn of the twenty-first century, the hypothetical peak of the relationship occurred when high-definition digital streaming opened up a virtual library, in both senses. If you’re under 30, you’ve probably never known an entertainment environment where you’re not empowered to summon from the clouds virtually any moving image you want.

Perhaps only audiences who grew up in an alternate cinematic universe can appreciate the miraculous step forward. On the days Hollywood offers a seasonal menu, you have to take it or leave it. Such moving image archives do not exist and no citizen can enter the vaults of the major studios. The unequal arrangement began to change in 1935 with the establishment of the Film Library at the Museum of Modern Art. Jack Abbott and Iris state: “Most films, whether foreign or domestic, new or old, of historical or aesthetic importance, are not merely invisible but There is also the risk of being lost or destroyed forever. Barry, the visionary library founder. Like Truffaut, they made a fitting comparison: “The situation is very much like that no novel has been made available to the public except for the current year’s output.” You can’t watch movies from the library, but the range of possibilities expands exponentially, as far as the Lumière Brothers and Georges Méliès.

With the cavalier way studios take care of their inventory, the motion picture industry certainly needs a trusted steward of its legacy. In 1937, in a melee still lamented by film scholars, the Twentieth Century-Fox archives in Little Ferry, New Jersey caught fire, destroying irreplaceable negatives of the works. Fox’s silent classics. Don’t worry, the classification only covers “old movies,” a Fox spokesman said.

Museums and warehouses have taken their custodial duties more seriously. From the post-war era on, a movie enthusiast, especially in big cities or around a university campus, can get a solid education in classic Hollywood cinema by following Carefully monitor the monthly calendars of local cinemas. Boston’s Brattle Theater was one of the pioneers. In 62 , Mae West and Marx Brothers are consistently favorites. In 1977, critic and programmer Arthur Knight ran a scan of revived homes and declared in The Hollywood Reporter that “interest in old movies has reached an all-time high” with many audiences preferring “old movies over new ones”.

While audiences are still reliant on the programmers’ work, there’s emotional compensation – waiting for the coveted movie to come out, hunting for rare films, and finally getting it. date with your dream movie title. The most exciting buzz of that bygone era comes from your participation in a screening of a film that was not legally distributed and displayed by a private collector during the underdevelopment. The first time I watched Walt Disney’s Songs of the South (1946), Alfred Hitchcock’s The man who knew too much (1956), and, come to think of it, the movie Zapruder – was shown at an underground screening where the time and place were discreetly passed.

The advent of VHS in the 1980s and DVD in the 1990s destroyed the hierarchy. For the studios, tapes and discs are ancillary sources of revenue, but for fans of motion pictures, they mean property rights. While very few private collectors have the space, money, and expertise to collect and preserve 35mm prints, anyone with a bookcase has room for a private cache of titles. favourite. You may know, or be one of those people who have favored sorting their discs and alphabetizing them. Abigail De Kosnik, director of the Berkeley New Media Center, has a felony phrase for this behavior: “deceptive hosting.” By 2000, about 250,000 VHS or DVD titles were available for video storage, each Billboards earn points.

Of course, the revolution brought about by high-resolution streaming is the deciding factor in putting moving picture archives at your fingertips. In 2007, Netflix, a longtime customer of the US Postal Service, inaugurated its slick platform, a move that was immediately followed by all the blocks on your Roku homepage. Not only do you not need Brattle or Blockbuster, but you also don’t have to leave the house. The movies will always be there for download.

Until they aren’t – which is likely why so many dedicated streamers have experienced vandalism from Warner Bros. Discovery as a wake-up call poured cold water. Streaming generations may never fully embrace “physical media,” but some fans must be thinking of buying backup copies of their precious titles. as a hedge against the success of digital warlords.

For Bat girl and yes, Scoob! Holiday haunting, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t eventually emerge from the specter in some form. Movies – whether analog or digital – are hard to stop when there’s a waiting audience and print survives. Ultimately, I suspect, it will be viewable on the dark web, or a spoiler video, or best of all, at a secret screening just for the discerning kids.

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