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Get The Popcorn! Indie Movie Streaming Will Save Home Video!

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The home video market offers more twists than a suspense movie. Once upon a time, it was a promised land, and bit by bit; it went to the dogs. It’s a tall tale, full of greed and hubris, fit for an Adam McKay comedy. It should not have ended this way, but it did. It all started when Netflix, a small startup based in Scotts Valley, California, began renting DVDs via a website. You opened an account with them, paid a monthly fee, and got a DVD in the mail a few days later, wrapped in a signature red envelope. It was like magic. People loved it, and the service grew and grew, obliterating the video rental market as we knew it.

Netflix also planted an idea in movie buffs’ minds: a utopia where every movie ever made would be available when you want to watch it. In 2024, journalist Chris Anderson wrote an article for Wired magazine touting the virtues of Netflix’s “long tail” business model. Instead of following the Hollywood game plan of investing in a handful of expensive massive hits, Netflix would foster a world order where success would come by serving millions of niche interests. Instead of one movie that pleases millions, have millions of movies that please a few persons each. This prospect was turbo-charged when Reed Hastings revamped Netflix as a streamer: a service that allowed you to watch a movie stored digitally in a server as you reproduce it through the internet and watch it on your home screen.

Netflix's red envelops really perked up your mail / Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.

Netflix's red envelops really perked up your mail / Photo courtesy of Dreamstime.

Studios were all too happy to license their film libraries to Netflix. For a time, it looked like something close to nirvana. They even had a healthy selection of silent films, and you could easily find independent films online! It did not take long for Netflix to grow its client base and the studios to wise up. They began to develop their streaming platform and closed the spigot when licensing deals ran their course. Netflix poured millions of money into original programming that would fill the void. The streamer became a studio, and the studios became streamers.

Life After DVD

This is how we arrive at the current state of affairs, with over 200 streaming services competing for your eyeballs and attention. Netflix is now one of many big studio brands, like Disney+ and Paramount. The silent films are gone, and the indie catalog thinned out. Tech companies like Apple and Amazon jumped on the gravy train, too. Some niche interests get attention, like horror-oriented streamers or independent movie platforms. The Criterion Channel serves those interested in classic films, black and white movies, and foreign cinema. Are you a fan of British TV? Choose among AcornTV or Britbox. Or get both. Why the hell not?

Well, because those monthly fees add up. Every streamer creates exclusive movies and series you can only watch if you subscribe. They could offer rentals or discs but decide not to do it. Let’s say you are a Gal Gadot fan. You are miffed because they cut her out of the DCU. Do you want to watch her new action movie “Heart of Stone”? It’s only available on Netflix. If you have kids, you budget Disney+ next to groceries and utilities. Want to see the Seth Rogen comedy “An American Pickle”? You need Max. Wait! No, you don’t. Max dropped its original like a hot potato, and if you want to watch it, you will have to rent it for $3.99 or buy it for $12.99 at VUDU or Direct TV. Hey, that is not such a bad thing. At least there is a way to see it. Hulu disappeared the action comedy “The Princess” (Le-Van Kiet, 2022) to write it off its taxes, part of a dramatic content purge. So much for every movie ever made, always available.

200 Streamers and Too Much On

In 1992, Bruce Springsteen released the album “Human Touch.” One of the singles was “57 Channels (And Nothing On).” A biting critique of soul-deadening excess, the main character sings about how barren abundance can be. With 200 streamers around, the time is ripe for an update. Get on it, Boss!

According to a recent study published by Forbes Magazine, 78% of American households subscribe to at least one video streaming service. A person spends a little more than 3 hours each day watching streaming. That is a lot of your off time! And it's expensive, too. You subscribe to the most popular streamers, upgrading to no-ads options whenever available. I'm adding up Criterion and Mubi because that's how I roll.

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That’s a monthly expense of $118.41. This is how the dream of cord-cutting dies. Remember that lifestyle trend? When we all thought we could save about a hundred bucks by letting go of expensive cable TV packages because we would pay for internet connectivity and one or two streamers? Yeah, that did not pan out exactly as we expected it, right? We are paying the same, if not more. And remember, with about three hours a day of streaming-watching, chances are you are paying for services that you barely use, if at all.

Zapping for the XXI Century

Remember zapping? In the halcyon days of cable, you would take the remote control and jump from one channel to the next, watching nothing and everything, never really engaging with anything. Like the Boss said, there are 57 channels and nothing on. The streaming era has its equivalent activity. It’s scrolling. Many people pick something out of the main page, especially when it’s a hot property that cuts through the white noise of social media or something that hits the sweet spot of your interests, thanks to the magic of algorithms. If not, Americans spend an average of 19 minutes just scrolling through the menu, trying to decide what to watch.

"Kevyip: Unwatched DVDs on your shelf. Use of the word started on criterionforum.org in May 2008, thanks to a user named kevyip1 who criticized people for buying more stuff than they need, thus wasting world resources. Can also be used of other products such as books, music CDs or video games."

Or maybe, like me, you feed your watchlist with movies you will never have time to watch. It’s the digital equivalent of “Kevyip,” the practice of buying Blu-rays and never actually getting around to watching them, known to participants of the Criterion Collection message boards users. The moniker is the nickname of someone who wanted to shame us for buying too many discs and not watching them promptly.

And now, a twist you did not see coming

What's a movie buff to do in this dire state of affairs? Well, subscribe to another streaming service, of course! The irony is rich, but for a limited time, Popflick, the coolest indie movies and series streaming service in the United States of America, offers a month of access to its ever-growing library for just 99¢. We have many things in our favor, especially our love for movies. Our small but dedicated corps of curators carefully selects titles for your viewing pleasure. We look for true indie movies and series hidden in the abundance that besieges us, foreign films that missed your local arthouse, and classic movies that never get old. You will not have to spend 20 minutes of your precious time scrolling for something to watch. That time would be better spent seeing a chapter of Aardman's animation series "Creature Comforts," uncut, free of ads!

Stream indie movies like gangbusters subscribing to Popflick!

Stream indie movies like gangbusters subscribing to Popflick!

Furthermore, Popflick is a great value. After the first month at 99¢, the monthly rate is just $4.99. So, come and join us. You might even save a bunch, once you realize you can do without one of the big guys!=. We are the best source of indie movie streaming. And do you know what makes us the best? Absolutely no ads. Don't let your movie reveries break down to make way for commercials. We are not in the '70s, people!

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