Streaming services bring the theater to you


Parker Otto, Columnist

The film industry has been in a prolonged “wrap” or, in non-film terms, at a complete stop due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Productions have stopped, movie theaters are closed and people are stuck in their homes with only cable and streaming services to provide films. However, there are still ways to watch recently released films intended for theaters.

Because of lack of venues, these films could have easily bombed through no fault of their own. However, Amazon Prime Video launched Amazon Prime Video Cinema March 22, allowing people to rent or buy films that were supposed to be in theaters at this time. Before theaters shut down, several films were released including “Sonic The Hedgehog,” “The Hunt” and “Onward.” Normally, these films would be released, the public would attend a movie theatre to watch them and these films would make money through ticket sales. Depending on how much, the amount would render it either a success or a failure at the box office. 

Recently released films including “Bloodshot,” “The Way Back” and “Trolls: World Tour” the latter of which became the first film to be exclusively released on video-on-demand. These films are available to rent for $19.99 and, once started, viewers have 48 hours to watch them.

Disney+ is another streaming service to respond to the pandemic. “Onward” was released April 3 on the platform, just a few weeks after its short-lived theatrical release. “Frozen II” was also released on Disney+ March 13, instead of its set date June 26 which allowed all 50 million of Disney+’s subscribers to watch the film. 

This idea of releasing films early onto streaming services is, for the current period, a good thing, because it allows films to still make money while theaters are closed. However, when the nationwide shutdown is over, this shouldn’t be the norm but rather a kind gesture from streaming services. As of now, Amazon has yet to say whether or not Prime Video Cinema will be a permanent fixture after the pandemic is over.

Films were meant to be a collective experience with other people, with a gigantic screen displaying the movie. In a dark room where the use of cell phones and other distractions is discouraged, only then can a movie be properly appreciated. 

The lack of theaters during this time is excruciating. For someone who loves films, not being able to go to a theater frequently is like a kiss from death because of how essential theaters are to the experience of watching films. Film isn’t just a means of entertainment, it is one of the most important art forms ever created. A series of photos screened rapidly at 24 per second can emotionally impact people in ways that people never expected. 

If one looks at some last year’s films, the emotion that film stirs in people is evident. A superhero film like “Avengers: Endgame” can make people cry, a character study like “Joker” can make someone question sociteies’ treatment of the mentally ill and “Jojo Rabbit” can take an evil subject like the Nazis and make a comedic satire that both decries them and spreads a universal message of love and tolerance. 

However, because going outside is not an option unless it’s for necessities or essential workers, this could be an opportunity to experience great cinema from home on streaming services. 

For anyone who’s wanted to watch a recommended film and has just never got around to it, now’s the time. Four of the most popular streaming services, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and Disney+, all currently offer great titles to view.

So, for potential cinephiles or those looking for a good film to watch, here are several recommendations based on genre which are free with a subscription to the service they are on.


  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video)
  2. The Hateful Eight (Netflix)
  3. The Magnificent Seven (Amazon Prime Video)
  4. Stagecoach (Amazon Prime Video)


  1. Goodfellas (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video)
  2. Taxi Driver (Netflix)
  3. Dirty Harry (Netflix)


  1. Groundhog Day (Netflix)
  2. The Hangover (Netflix)
  3. Lady Bird (Amazon Prime Video)
  4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Amazon Prime Video)
  5. Clue (Amazon Prime Video)
  6. Perks of Being a Wallflower (Netflix)
  7. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Netflix)
  8. Julie and Julia (Netflix)
  9. Blazing Saddles (Hulu)
  10. Booksmart (Hulu)


  1. Kill Bill (Hulu)
  2. Indiana Jones franchise (Netflix)
  3. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (Disney+)
  4. Escape from New York (Amazon Prime Video)
  5. Inglourious Basterds (Netflix)

Comic Book:

  1. Spider-Man (Hulu)
  2. The entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (Netflix or Disney+ depending on the title)
  3. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (Netflix)

Family Films:

  1. Chicken Run (Hulu)
  2. Hook (Netflix)
  3. Rango (Hulu and Amazon Prime Video)
  4. Mary Poppins (Disney+)
  5. Coco (Disney+)
  6. Up (Disney+)
  7. Ratatouille (Disney+)

Science Fiction/Fantasy:

  1. Minority Report (Netflix)
  2. Star Wars (Disney+)
  3. Pan’s Labyrinth (Netflix)
  4. Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Netflix)
  5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (Amazon Prime Video)


  1. Hereditary (Amazon Prime Video)
  2. Midsommar (Amazon Prime Video)
  3. Pet Sematary (Amazon Prime Video and Hulu)
  4. Overlord (Amazon Prime Video and Hulu)
  5. Bone Tomahawk (Amazon Prime Video)


  1. Say Anything (Hulu)
  2. 10 Things I Hate About You (Disney+)
  3. Roman Holiday (Amazon Prime Video)
  4. Annie Hall (Amazon Prime Video)


  1. Sunset Boulevard (Amazon Prime Video)
  2. 12 Angry Men (Amazon Prime Video)
  3. Parasite (Hulu)
  4. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Hulu)
  5. Marriage Story (Netflix)