Where Will I Get Movies Next?

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The entertainment world is available in many different forms, far removed from their not-too-distant ancestors the mutoscope, drive-ins, VHS tapes and other now antiquated forms. A typical movie night today might look something like this:

On the way home from the store where you just bought a DVD of some terrible reboot you might stop off at a Red Box stand to grab a BluRay of a new release.

Once you get home and pop the rented movie into your Blu Ray player but quickly get tired of sitting up on the couch. So you crawl in bed and lay your laptop on your stomach, but — you know — that gets really hot. Time to pull out the tablet and peruse the selection on a streaming website like Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video.

After marathoning the latest season of “The Walking Dead” (because who wouldn’t) your tablet dies because you forgot to plug it in. The plug was just too far away, right? Hark! To the smartphone to pick up on where you left off on the tablet.

It’s crazy to look at where we are 50 years after the Beatles appeared in grainy video and garbled audio on The Ed Sullivan Show. Ultra high definition TVs and movies almost hurt my eyes sometimes with how bright and crisp the quality is.

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But where do movies go from here?

It’s likely that movie theaters will never go away. The Motion Picture Association of America released statistics showing that theater sales have increased by 12 percent over the last five years with more than two-thirds of the population attending a movie at some point. It’s similar to the idea that although we could eat at home, we still go to restaurants. We could watch movies that we rent at home, but we like to go out and get pampered for a night.

Outside of the theater is a different story. DVDs killed the VHS tape. It’s likely that the Blu Ray disc will kill the DVD in the next five years. And that digital streaming will eventually top physical discs in the distant future.

It seems difficult to believe, especially for children who grew up in the DVD era. When I was young I told my mom that VHS would always be around because “no one likes DVDs.” Oops — I guess a five-year-old can get some forgiveness.

Digital streaming services have exploded in recent years. Nielsen reports that 38 percent of Americans use Netflix, 18 percent use Hulu and 13 percent use Amazon Instant Video. This isn’t even to touch streaming-only shows like Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Pew shows that even TV shows may be going that way as well because TV viewership is continually in decline.

The pro-Internet movement of movie and TV show viewers is problematic because America still lacks the infrastructure and internet access that would allow for the complete digital move. Fifteen percent of people in the United States don’t use the internet — either by choice or they can’t afford it or don’t have access altogether. It’s expensive afterall.

In the near future, we’re likely to see a rise of two, dominant media: Digital streaming and Blu Ray. By digital streaming, I also mean the eventual near-elimination of renting movies in person within the next five years. We’ve already seen this by the video game industry with sites like Steam that let customers rent or buy games for cheap. Clearly we still have physical video games, but the signs are there.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It means less space, cheaper movies (barring greedy movie barons price inflating), and not having to worry about Red Box having “The Heat” rented out for like two weeks straight.

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