Watching a movie in an actual movie theater has become an increasingly rare experience. Blame the pandemic, but also blame Netflix. The streamer’s success—203 million subscribers and counting—has forced the most powerful studios, from Disney to Warner Bros., to launch their own at-home offerings, accelerating Hollywood’s realignment. Netflix spent a reported $17 billion on content in 2020, compared with Amazon’s $7 billion and Disney+’s $1.75 billion. Some of the most talented creatives from network TV and the studio system—including Shonda Rhimes and David Fincher—have jumped to the platform, excited by the creative control it offers, resulting in record-setting viewership for Rhimes’ period drama Bridgerton and 10 Oscar nominations for Fincher’s Mank. It’s unclear as people get vaccinated whether the ease of watching Netflix at home will continue to define the cinematic experience. But one thing is certain: watching movies (and TV series) for the first time on Netflix has become the rule, not the exception.
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