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[Debate] – Is TV The New Film?

 

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Posted July 31, 2014 by

 
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When I was a teenager, the hot topic was always movies and movie stars. It was about the ‘Harry Potter’ films, or the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise. The new rom com that came out and arranging to go to the cinema to see it or organising a sleepover and watching the latest horror movie. However, the other day I was sat in a park near where I live enjoying the lovely English summertime when I overheard a conversation a few girls were having. They were discussing ‘Game Of Thrones’, ‘Sherlock’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and other TV shows they were fans of, and occasionally one that they thought was truly abysmal (as well as ranking Doctor Who’s assistants in order of uselessness). Movies didn’t appear in their conversation at all. Even though the actors they mentioned have been in plenty of movies (Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Jessica Lange to name but a few), they were only ever discussed in the context of the small screen. This got me thinking, is TV becoming more interesting than film?

There’s no doubting the fact that the production values of TV shows has drastically increased over the last few years. You only have to watch shows like ‘Games Of Thrones’ and ‘American Horror Story’ to see that the TV world has really stepped up the quality of some of its productions. More money is pumped into TV series, audiences are binge watching more shows and networks are fiercely competing for greater ratings more than ever before. Many critics are calling the current TV climate a new ‘Golden Age’. It was once the case that actors saw TV as a stepping stone to a film career, but now TV shows seems to be drawing in the big movie names. Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Matthew McConaughey are just a few star names that are finding success on the small screen (They appear in ‘Damages’, ‘American Horror Story’ and ‘True Detective’ respectively). Can films really compete with this new revival on television?

I think part of the problem lies with movie franchises. Many of the big movie franchises of the last few decades have either ended or will end in the next year or so. These are the movies that people talk about and become excited for the next instalment. Then there are the movie franchises that are taken way past their best to the point where people talk about them with annoyance and despair. It’s not very often a single movie becomes the talk of the town and when a film does manage to break through, it’s often because it’s an unexpected hit at the box office. TV shows don’t really have this problem. Fans are pretty much guaranteed a new series every year (unless you happen to be a ‘Sherlockian’) and writers and directors can change things up far quicker if the fans start to lose interest. Most of them don’t have an end date or a set number of series from the outset allowing for endless possibilities in terms of storylines, and fans can almost become more involved as they see their favourite characters every week for the majority of the year.

Having said all of this, I am missing out one key point (and probably the most important). TV and film aren’t in direct competition. If you want to, you can go to the cinema and then get home and binge watch a series on Netflix. The real issue isn’t whether TV is getting better, as it evidently is (I’m not counting reality shows like ‘Made In Chelsea’ in that statement by the way), it’s that film needs to re-engage with people’s interests. TV networks are making shows that people want to talk about and film needs to do the same. The recent news of the ‘Star Wars’ reboot is setting things on the right track, and maybe the new ‘Avengers’ film may have people talking but the film industry can’t just rely on a couple of franchises to get people talking. It needs to spark people’s interest again.

 

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Amy Ulliott
Just One More Movie
@amiull90
Freelance Contributor

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