The landscape of movies and television changed a lot in Australia this year thanks to a big push by Internet based streaming services. Where previously viewers were resorting to either VPNs to the USA for Netflix and Hulu or illegal torrents we were finally seeing much of the popular content releasing almost day and date here.
Changes to government policy here on shutting down piracy related sites made a big difference too and forced many to finally pay up…. and likely ruined a few Christmas bonuses for lawyers representing HBO, AMC, etc.
As with the game version of the roundup, this is a rundown of some of the memorable moments I’ve had with movies and TV over the last year. Feel free to reply in the comments below if you have anything you’d like to share.
2015 was a big year for movies and television in Australia and a lot of it can be best summed up in one word: Netflix. Once the video streaming giant made its first steps here the competition was immediately put onto the back foot and forced to compete through exclusives which did little to stem the tide.
The problem for them was that Netflix is moving beyond its distribution roots and delving deep into production thanks to successes with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. For me their new content this year helped to radically changed my own TV viewing habits and move my viewing away from the local dominant “pay-tv” provider in Foxtel.
That first salvo arrived in April with Daredevil, the first of the Netflix/Marvel collaboration and later in November with Jessica Jones. Seeing the producers willing to dive into a darker, uglier version of Marvel’s cinematic universe was both impressive and addictive. It’s the dark side version of Agents of Shield and totally revels in it.
Then there was Narcos, the series the follows the rise and fall of drug lord Pablo Escobar. Mixed in with real life footage of the era it can be hard to separate fact from fiction, especially when both are as out of this world as they are here.
With movies, there’s no way I can deny that having the year close with Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an experience that is hard to beat. With generations of fans waiting years to see more adventures in the galaxy far, far away the film gave them thrills and surprises that will be much talked about for a couple of years until the next episode arrives.
The downside to Netflix storming in to Australia is the quick fracturing of content across numerous providers. Where previously there was a duopoly of sorts with free to air television on one side and pay-tv provider Foxtel on the other there is also now a group of streaming providers that all have their own exclusives to draw viewers in.
Now, that may be perfectly normal elsewhere on the world but it is still a very alien concept here with many shows available through the increasing number of free to air digital channels. And the issue of content exclusives raised its ugly head when Foxtel locked up Game of Thrones. With the government cracking down on illegal downloads, fans were being forced to pay high monthly subscription fees just to keep up with the rest of the world on one of TV’s biggest shows.
After the reports of its troubled production history, few would have expected to see Ant-Man turn out to be such a great addition to Marvel’s cinematic universe. It was hugely entertaining and the characters of Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) could prove to be useful foils to the already established Avengers team.
And not only that the film was the lead in to next year’s Captain America: Civil War that is shaping up to be a big game changer for many of the heroes we’ve been watching these last few years. The final moments to the recently released trailer provided one of those O.M.G. moments that was needed more from this year’s Age of Ultron.
And finally, to see that Star Wars would return this year with such vigour was beyond expectations. It’s already looking like The Force Awakens may just have a chance of dethroning Avatar from the top of the box office heap and with the first of the spin off films in the form of Rogue One coming next followed by even more films it’s likely the number of Jedi appearing on Australia’s next census will explode.