US v Paramount

Warner Bros

In the days leading up to Wednesday, May 1st, Netflix subscribers scrambled to get through numerous titles on their Instant queues that were scheduled to disappear as part of their move to the Warner Archive Instant, easily the highest-profile to-date streaming archive owned and operated exclusively through a particular studio. With an expanding selection of films and television programs that range from classics like When Harry Met Sally to dozens of resurrected B-movies to truly hard-to-find films like Wim Wenders’s forgotten sci-fi epic Until the End of the World, the Warner Archive Instant is a treasure trove for any cinephile invested in the potential of the digital preservation and exhibition.*** Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the Warner Archive Insant is that its potential success should assuage fears about the digital conversion process and studios closing their vaults on repertory prints: here’s an example demonstrating how studios can utilize their back log in a way that caters to film fans and, in effect, looks to future possibilities for cinema’s past. It’s also a nostalgic foray into the most legible qualities of the classical studio system: gathered together in this archive, the monster movies and gangster films of yesteryear exhibit a collective identity that feels particularly Warners. That said, there are some notable and perhaps troubling implications about a streaming service dedicated to and exclusively run by a major studio. Warner Archive Instant resembles a digital equivalent of the exhibition methods practiced by Warners itself during the years in which […]

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