STREAMING SATURDAY: Will we ever see “day and date” streaming releases again?

I’m not so sure there are too many good things that came out of the global pandemic. More companies allow work-from-home, and more people can get video access to their doctors. I suppose those are good things. But really, for me anyway, the best thing to come out of the last two years has been “day and date” streaming releases. You know, when a movie is available on a premium streamer at the same time it hits traditional theaters.

Not gonna lie…

I prefer seeing most films at home. I’ve put a lot of time, effort, and money into my home theater. It’s more comfortable than any movie theater. The picture isn’t as big but it’s pretty darn big. The sound isn’t perfect but it’s pretty darn good. Plus, I don’t have to shell out $60 just for two tickets and a mound of stale popcorn. Added bonus: pause the thing when I get a text or when nature calls. I may one day go back to the movie theater for some tentpole release or other, but I have to admit, I don’t miss it.

I enjoyed it a lot when HBO Max and others released movies on streaming at the same times they were in theaters, or sometimes instead of going to theaters. It was a little bright light in the midst of some very dark times. Seems like that whole thing sort of ended about six months ago.

Will we see it again?

A lot of filmmakers spoke out against the practice of day-and-date releases. These are folks who believe that the only good way to see their work is on a big screen “as intended” and anything else is a waste. In at least one case that we know of, a lawsuit was brought because theater revenues dropped because of day-and-date releases. In this case, actress Scarlett Johanssen alleged that her share of the profits was affected. I get it, you made a deal and you didn’t know the pandemic was going to happen. First world problems, that’s all I’m saying.

But, because of filmmakers’ priorities and actors’ deals, we’re not likely to see a grand return to day-and-date streaming. It’s a shame because it seems to me that it was pretty popular. I personally liked it when the film was free, but there were a few times I put down the $20 to watch it at home when I wanted it. Still cheaper than two movie tickets, that’s how it seems to me.

There has to be a middle ground

Before 2020, most of the movies that were released streaming-only were kind of… bad. Usually these were films that couldn’t get wide distribution. I’m talking about the stuff that populates your Netflix screen, the stuff you end up trying at 2 in the morning and abandoning after 25 minutes. In the last two years we’ve seen some really excellent stuff that came to streaming instead of going to theaters. I’m thinking of the recent Nightmare Alley, which is available on HBO Max and Hulu. You really do deserve to treat yourself to this film if you like old-school noir thrillers.

I’m hoping that the next generation of actors and filmmakers will just, well, get over themselves. Maybe people who grew up in the internet age will realize that it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a film at home. They’ll make films that look good in that settings. They’ll negotiate deals that keep them flush with cash no matter where people see their work. I don’t know. I can hope.

For now, I guess I’m just back to waiting 3 months or more for that film I want to see. It’s worth it to me to save a few bucks and have a better experience to boot.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.