Like the wolf that comes to devour sheep, the death of the cinema has been announced so many times that, on the day the danger becomes tangible, one reacts with inevitable disbelief. The year began with noisy debates – Marvel’s supremacy and the dogma of entertainment, denounced by sacred cows such as Scorsese and Coppola – which today, given the gravity of recent events, seem like living room brawls, typical of good times. If by now we already know that cinema will never die, perhaps its main rite, the pilgrimage to theaters, has its days numbered, as everything – the live forces of the market, viruses, gentrification – conspire so that the home becomes an almost unique scene of our existence.
Of all the premature obituaries the cinema has had, this might be the most credible. His fate would have been decided in November, during a tense lunch at Warner Studios, officiated by his new boss, Jason Kilar, who played with Jeff Bezos in the early days of Amazon (any phonetic resemblance to the word killer it’s pure coincidence). After postponing the premiere of Wonder Woman 1984, the studio leadership decided that the film would hit theaters at the same time and HBO Max, in an attempt to boost the platform after its disappointing launch. This hybrid premiere will be a kind of trailer for the new industrial order that will arrive in 2021: next year, Warner will apply that system to all its films, including very strong dishes like Matrix 4 or the new Dune. Christopher Nolan, true to his role as the Last of the Mohicans, rose as a spokesman for the resistance: “Many went to sleep believing that they were working for the best studio and woke up to discover that they were working for the worst platform of streaming”. In the great Hollywood family, Newspeak marketing It has become a distant memory
Months ago, Disney already sacrificed Mulan and Soul, the new from Pixar, which it redirected to its platform, and Universal found similar solutions for its unpostponable premieres. Time has sped up during the pandemic, as if we were immersed in one of the incomprehensible subplots of Tenet. A change has been brought forward that the Cassandras of the digital world have been shouting for decades. Against this background, Nolan’s abstruse film could be the last blockbuster of the old regime, the posthumous exponent of the prevailing system for the last 50 years, ruled by those gigantic films that were also cultural events. The studies protected them as crown jewels because they supported the entirety of their economic model (for a reason they have been called, for some time now, tent poles: the poles that support the tent of this great circus). It makes sense for the swan song to materialize with a film like Tenet, parody ofhigh concept and emblem of a system that seems to die of hypertrophy; a cluster of millionaire images typical of a cinema, and of a world, that lived beyond their means. Also a symbol of admirable firmness – Nolan insisted on releasing it during the summer – but ultimately unable to change the direction of the winds. There is no doubt that the blockbuster The future will take new forms: its domestic dimension will modify its characteristics and will cause other hybrids to appear. It will be directed towards serial formats, without a doubt, but also towards playful and interactive ones. Without going any further, one of the most anticipated video games of 2021, Cyberpunk 2077, stars Keanu Reeves.
Despite the dire consequences that this situation entails for the sector, also weakened by the intermittent (and totally unjustified) closure of the rooms due to the health situation, this year without blockbusters it won’t have been so unpleasant for moviegoers. The auteur cinema has benefited from a less voracious context, as if it were accommodating itself in the gap left by the industry’s flagships. You can’t talk about a bad year when titles like Martin eden, Mom, For Sama, Vitalina Varela, Synonyms, Ondine, Kajillionaire O Wild goose lake they premiered on the big screen. Theaters have also shown new potential, as the frenetic pace of weekly releases gave way to other cadences.
For starters, the reruns were back. In Paris, one could see the restored copy of Crash, David Cronenberg’s modern classic, in a multiplex desert, something like a religious experience (will arrive in Spain in January). The same Madrid cinema that premiered Hollywood by-products in February with a half-empty capacity was showing in November The year of discovery with the whole room masked, but overflowing. Luis López Carrasco’s film is the milestone of 2020 in Spanish cinema: an oral memory of the censored chapters in the official history of progress told by those who remained in the gutter. In his images, the present overlaps with the past, those ninety that are now everywhere. That the director opts for the split screen is a curious coincidence in this year so crammed with mosaic images, in which the boom video calls has inscribed our day-to-day life in a traditional panopticon, of walking around the house.
Transhumance towards the virtual can have devastating effects if it becomes a monoculture, but it is undeniable that some of the best films of the year have been seen only on platforms: the extraordinary Ex Libris (Filmin), or the cinema as a civic duty by Frederick Wiseman, added to The Souvenir (Movistar Plus), Rough diamonds (Netflix) o First Cow, the amazing comeback of Kelly Reichardt, available for a single weekend on Filmin after winning the Gijón Film Festival. It is not clear that it validates as a premiere, but it is a perfect example of the new landscape that is being drawn before our eyes, full of figures that we are not able to describe because we still do not have the vocabulary to do so. The last shot chosen by Reichardt overlaps with that of another of the year’s films, Beginning, the arid debut of Dea Kulumbegashvili, crowned in San Sebastián. Both remind us that, also in this world where we alternate presential with what remote (words of the year), we remain, first and foremost, slaves of time.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.