In the conventional film distribution setting, cinemas or movie theaters have often been the first point of sale for movies. After cinematic or theatrical distribution, the second traditional channel comprised of the broadcast via television, followed by DVDs. Majority of film producers opted for these three modes of distribution, in an attempt to ensure optimal viewership and reap maximum profits. Recently, however, the pervasive nature of the internet has influenced film distribution, paving way for digital online platforms. The latter include video on demand (VOD), mobile applications, and live streaming. This paper seeks to provide insight into the evolution of film distribution within the context of traditional cinema versus popular digital platform, Netflix. Even though Netflix is a key player in film distribution, cinemas are still a vital part of the entertainment industry and should not be entirely written off.
Pioneers of movie distribution since the advent of the film industry were traditional theaters and cinemas. Cinemas were rather popular, as people increasingly embraced moviegoing as a weekend form of relaxation with family members and friends. The earliest theaters did not project movies on a screen. Rather, the films were showcased using peep-show machines referred to as kinetoscopes. The latter was developed by Thomas Edison and W. Dickson, and they remained popular till the end of the 19th century. As the world ushered in the 20th century, similar peep-show gadgets referred to as Mutoscopes were introduced in the continued popularisation of a theatrical portrayal of film.