News from last week was a mix of good and bad but all big.
First the good news. The Hill broke the news that Amazon is in negotiations to allow free access to their exclusive eBooks through the Digital Public Library of America. This will be the first time that libraries have the ability to loan Amazon exclusive eBooks to their patrons in any capacity, and this would really be huge. This has been an endeavor years in the making from the likes of OverDrive and Hoopla, so it would be a real feather in DPLA’s cap if this deal goes through. I love library digital vendors, especially OverDrive, I really do, but I’m grateful that a non-profit competitor exists like DPLA and I would like to see DPLA become even more of a powerhouse. It’s likely because it’s a nonprofit that Amazon is even open to the idea of working with them to improve their image, so it will be exciting to see where this leads.
In other news, Warner Bros. made the earthshattering announcement that 17 of their theatrical releases would release on HBO Max the same day as theaters, following the Wonder Woman 1984 model. These films will include mega tentpole blockbusters like the 4th Matrix, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Dune! As someone who is fortunate enough to have a home theater, complete with 200 inch screen, 4k and 3D projector, theater-style seats, and a popcorn machine, this is certainly welcome news for my house during this pandemic. However, I also see it as an omen. I worry that movie theaters go essentially extinct, and studios begin releasing movies directly to home, the go-big-or-go-home quality will decrease, a concern shared by others.
If we enter a world without movie theaters, my second favorite past time will be gone. Despite my home theater, it’s not the same as going to the movies. At the movie theater, I surrender myself to the movie. The movie is in charge. I need to be on time, because the movie will not wait for me. If I am late, I will miss out. There is no talking or using cell phones. If I do, I may be asked to leave. I am fully immersed in the experience. As hard as I try, I cannot replicate that at home. The dogs bark, the doorbell rings. My stupid husband (I swear I love him), walks all around the house with his phone blasting. If I lose the movie theater experience, I, and the rest of our culture, will lose something valuable.