The Netflix Effect? On updating the cinematic apparatus theory.
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This thesis speculates about the possible ways in which Netflix may influence Hollywood blockbusters. Whereas journalistic media focus on the competition between Hollywood and Netflix, academic writings primarily focus on the relation between Netflix and television. Missing from this academic discussion are the stories each medium tells and how they influence each other’s content. In this thesis I ask that question. To research ‘the Netflix effect’, a term already used to describe its effect on the television production landscape (McDonald et al. 2016), I use the cinematic apparatus theory as a theoretical framework to compare the environments that host the screens of both Netflix and the cinema. The cinematic apparatus theory has a controversial position within film and cultural studies. While also addressing the criticism the theory received, I argue in my thesis that one of the biggest problems with the theory is its assertion that the cinema is the superior way of experiencing movies. This argumentative thesis is in large part a response to Elsaesser’s essay ‘What Is Left of the Cinematic Apparatus, or Why We Should Retain (and Return to) It’ (Elsaesser, 2011). In this essay he argues that the theory could allow for new insights in how other screen based media work. Taking his cue, I constructed an updated version of the theory following Scott C. Richmond update on the theory, supplemented by Elsaesser and Metz’s interpretations. By doing this, more insight and understanding is given in how the environment influences the stories of the screen and gives possible hints in how Netflix has the ability −or already has− influenced cinematic storytelling in Hollywood blockbusters.