If we asked the standard person 10 years ago when a movie came out, their answer would either be the theater release date or the home movie release (The occasional overeducated individual might list the film's first festival appearance, but these cases are few and far between.) This is the model people over a certain age probably still think of because, perfectly honestly, it worked really well for decades. However, I am proposing that there is a new release date that has sprung up with minimal notice, and one that dominates a certain market: the day films begin streaming on subscription services.
For simplicity's sake, let's consider the Millennial and Netflix. We must start off by saying that, generally, people my age do not generally pay to watch movies, whether that be in the theater or on demand. I don't really want to go into depth of why this phenomenon exists, but I'll assume that my nonexistent readers trust me that young people have little problem pirating films. The thing is, going to a streaming site is hard and can offer lower quality video streams.
This is where Netflix streaming comes in. As a service that took up 37% of peak download internet traffic for North America in 2015, we can reasonably say that a lot of people view their media based on what is on Netflix. Furthermore, based on the success of sites that do nothing more than list what movies and shows are coming to and leaving Netflix each month, I believe that people care how Netflix is shaping their catalog.
And surely, so does Netflix. Their "Trending Now" section is not only an observation of what the region is thinking at the time but a tangible barometer for the Zeitgeist. The above screenshot, taken on a Saturday night, shows that Americans are likely to enjoy the dependable comedies and TV shows that are a mainstay in living rooms. However, taken on a different day, the list might display different films.
One media object I have a particular interest in is "IT FOLLOWS," added yesterday. And gosh, is that movie a real trip (I had to turn it off more than once because it was so terrifying.) The inevitability of doom overrides every other emotion in the film constantly, and is reinforced by a soundtrack that is like how Halloween should have been. But more importantly, we must ask, "Why did Netflix add this film now?"
The easy answer is that this when they got the rights. And technically, by my perception, that is not a wrong answer.
In a rather familiar move for this blog, I'll posit that the addition of "IT FOLLOWS" is a byproduct of the election of President Trump. We are in the final days of Obama, and things are so out of control it seems like the sky is falling. What better time to stage this final release of a horror movie about female sexuality than when a man who will most likely defund women's health care is about to become our supreme leader?