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The Way We Watch Films Has Changed Forever

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I’m about a year into a game-changing discovery. The likes of which film fans can only dream of. Don’t panic, I’m in a sharing mood – but first I want to take you back. To the year 1999. Simpler times.

If you don’t fancy the time warp, the moral of the story is simple, you should all set up an American iTunes account. Immediately. I’ll explain why.

The point of the story is the way we watch films has changed forever. And rather than moan about that (just search Bright, Cloverfield Paradox and Mute and ‘’ on Twitter, to see how Netflix has allegedly ruined films/your childhood forever). Now whether you love them, or hate them, the reaction to all three has been a little overzealous for my liking. Almost like the audacity of a new Will Smith film being released on Netflix in itself is a crime against humanity. Interestingly, the fact Annihilation drops in a few weeks is going to make it incredibly hard to be annoyed at Netflix for long.

But there’s something interesting in another debate. Should Bright have been seen at the cinema? I’m not talking to you at the back who was destroyed by how average you found it, I mean more, was the experience lessened seeing it at home?

Certainly based on some of you lucky enough to have seen screeners of Alex Garland’s new opus, you’re saying that. There should’ve been a choice. It should’ve been released on both formats. Maybe even concurrently. I’m flashing back to a stay in New York, where the TV in the room had all of the films playing a couple of blocks down in Times Square. All for a rental fee. I still can’t believe out of everything that was available we opted for Kung Fu Panda. But you see my point.

Snow day today? Do you really want to trudge into town to try and see Lady Bird? Or The Shape Of Water? You absolutely should. Both are more than worth driving sideways for, but… what if you could watch both in your own home? In 4K? With no one trying to sneak a Nando’s in? In case you didn’t know, it’s entirely possible. And legal, too.

1999

I was seeing a girl at the time (I know, right!), and we had gone to her Uncles for a curry + film night. (Bare with me, there’s a point to this).

The curry was average – but the film show? Well, let’s just say it left an indelible impression, and I’ve been playing catch up ever since.

The sound system was one thing – rear and front speakers?! – and the TV was clearly a bit… special. Don’t get me wrong, 2018-me thinks back to the size of both set ups (depth, rather than diagonal width), and chokes on a vanilla latte. These things clearly weren’t cheap. In hind site they were monstrous, but….. when Uncle Buck whipped out a DVD of The Mummy, my eyes started to water.

I had literally been to see that at the cinema (a flea pit no less), a few weeks prior. And there I was, able to slot it in, and watch it at home. Away from the herds munching on their popcorn. Away from those that have managed to sneak a Nando’s in (we’ve all seen it). Away from people playing snake on their Nokia 5300 during the trailers.

It was a game-changing moment. I got involved and got a DVD player immediately that could be “hacked” (via remote, no less), to show region 1 DVDs.

I owned The Mummy ASAP, and many more after it. Blade was a highlight. Blair Witch during its cinema run was another. I wasn’t a victim of release dates anymore. I could see films when I felt like I deserved too – and I’ve been thinking lately, nothing has really changed.

2018

I made a bold call to get rid of my all of my Blu Rays mid-2017. The logic was I was buying 4K now, and I knew myself all too well. Goodfellas? It would need re-buying for sure. Much like the DVD upgrade in the first place. Back to the VHS upgrade before that. Christ, Star Wars and The Thing went all the way back to Dad’s laser disc collection. The artwork. The smell. I loved all of that. Steelbooks (especially if they were embossed!) started to replace normal Blu-rays. So you’re talking quite the collection. But I wanted it gone, to free up room – and I reinvested in decking the house out in Sonos.

I already knew Apple TV was going to be main lever to make my master plan work. I wasn’t using mine to it’s full potential at all. Not even close. And with Santa kindly delivering the new 4K version, I set about setting it all up. One in the lounge for the projector. One in the film room for the main TV – and one for the kitchen (I know, I know).

Now what could be worth all of that hassle, and effort?

Simply put, each and everyone of those little black boxes, gives us complete access to all of our films. All at the same time.

A flick of a button here, and a click of a button there, I switch between my UK and US iTunes account.

On the UK version, I get 4K films for roughly half the price of the physical disc. (Force Awakens next week will likely be £14.99, versus closer to £24.99).

I get to watch the films on my iPad too, as does the rest of the Family.

Then, on a peak film showing, we switch to the US.

Here’s a list of films we’ve bought, and watched from Home in 2018 alone:

Darkest Hour, Coco, Shape Of The Water, Lady Bird, Three Billboards.

All of those were either not out in UK cinemas, or just coming out, on the day I got them.

Blade Runner 2049 was out in December.

And the hits keep on coming. So there’s a choice, some more obvious than other perhaps (‘Blade Runner 2049’). I can stay at Home, or we can go to the cinema.

What prompted this article was my most diva moment of 2018, so far. Tuesday just gone I was promised I, Tonya on USiTunes, and it was delayed until the following week. It’s still less than a week old at UK cinemas, but I actually felt let down by that. Not having it on demand on the day I demanded it.

The way we watch films has changed forever. Embrace it.

Oh, and I got Justice League 4 weeks early too. So it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

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