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Downstreaming Movies -- Is it Worth Accepting a Minuscule Library?

Updated on March 2, 2012

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Do you have an impression where all the current avenues of watching post-release movies is headed? Whether we like it or not, the major players appear to be trying to get out of the DVD rental business and force their subscribership to downstreaming select titles to your TV screen. My greatest concern is that the more obscure movies will be harder (if not impossible) to locate on DVD. You remember B. Dalton Bookstores? They typically carried only the best-selling fiction/nonfiction along with a few classics and a lot of magazines. There was no comparing it to Boarders. NetFlix, Amazon, Hulu and others seems to be headed down this same path. They will be able to offer a hell of a lot of "B" movies, and, if you can wait a few extra months, new releases -- this is the essence of their downstreaming plan, which they are pushing very hard already. If you are looking for something older but classic, or foreign, you probably won't find it.

Alternative ideas from the competition are just as bad, if not worse.

I don't quite understand the downstreaming craze because its such a wild mixture of pure trash and "some" very high-quality flicks.

An almost unknown film from 1969, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo (of The Beatles fame), called "The Magic Christian" demonstrated all-too vividly to what lengths people will go to collect wealth. Seller's demonstrates this point to Ringo by have a mountain of excrement plopped down on a field then inviting anyone and everyone to dig through it for pure (if soiled) cash.

Many of the newer films, which initially garnered a big interest, such as any of the "Transformer" movies, petered out into nothingness in a short time frame -- so we can only wonder what sort of jambalaya we will be offered on the future menu.

The worst-case scenario is for the majority of home movie watchers to be satisfied with the top 20 flicks (whatever they may be) and allow all the remainder to fade into obscurity. This was the approach that B. Dalton took, and it didn't work out so well in the long run.

Some segment of the movie-viewing audience still wants to rent "obscure" films. And what is obscure today may become antique tomorrow. As with all things, each company or co-op is interested only in the money it can make in the short term. They don't care about you or me, as an audience. They don't have any feeling or sense of duty toward the older classics. None of these companies are in business to enlighten their audiences by making older films easier to view via accessibility. The same goes for foreign films.

A dismal future may await us where people are only capable of discussing the top 20 films now on the charts. The onus seems to fall on the baby boomer generation to make a stink about this. Movies morphed drastically from the 50s to the early 70s -- some for the better, and some not, but almost all were built upon productions from 1960 backwards. Some of the best movies ever made are lost in the fog of the late 1930s and 1940s.

I say the onus falls on the boomers because this generation is responsible for carrying the torch forward when it comes to preserving and archiving our various forms of art. Some portion of boomers have seen these older films and should experience some kind of obligation that this treasury is always kept in circulation.

Later generation have their own feelings of reverence -- most notably toward computer games.

I don't know what this onus implies ... writing letters or emails to various studios or rental services ... boycotting the hot 20 on the billboard ... I don't know. I only know this: All the deals or potential deals rumored to be in the works are not taking into account the "A" material from the silver screen.

Here is just one odd-ball example. During my youth I watched a little-known British film called "The Long and the Short, and the Tall." (The version with Lawrence Harvey, not Peter O'Tool.) I couldn't remember much about it, so I began a search the Internet to see if it was available for rent or sale. Sadly, the film was never transferred to tape. (This is exactly the way films drop out of any and all radar.)

It seemed like my wishes of seeing the film again were basically impossible -- except -- in searching the title on Google, I came across a complete version of the film available on YouTube for free. Of course, I had to accept watching the film in a tiny screen format, but under the circumstances, I accepted this in good graces. As it turned out, I basically remembered NOTHING from the film and it was if I were watching the flick for the first time. It's obviously flawed, but it has some intense scenes with Lawrence Harvey, Richard Harris, David McCallum, and Richard Todd. The movie itself is a 1961 downer, but I felt triumphant finding it and seeing it once again.

Will the upcoming media moguls allow us to watch "Night of the Iguana" (1964), or what about "The Naked Jungle" (1954)? I was born in 1953, so you can see, I was at least exposed to a variety of films (often shown on FREE television). Will the next generation be so lucky? If you accept there are few pure hearts at the center of this cinema vortex, all we can do is complain if things go the way of B. Dalton Bookstores.

Meanwhile, I am buying used and new DVDs ... just in case things don't work out to our advantage. Hopefully, my fears out-measure the tidal wave of pure commercial greed.

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