TV’s Move to the Big Screen: The Rise of Event Television

Sunday’s epic Walking Dead finale/Fear the Walking Dead premiere was notable for a few reasons — It marked the crossover of the 2 series, Morgan’s move from TWD to FTWD, a “turning point” for Walking Dead as a series, and it was released in theaters.

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Source: AMC

This is not the first time a television show had a major episode released in theaters. The first to do it was Sherlock back in 2017 when the show’s fourth season finale, “The Final Problem” was aired on the big screen. Then last December BBC also debuted its annual Doctor Who Christmas special, “Twice Upon A Time,” in theaters as well. I expect that Game of Thrones will follow suit. With its eighth and final season gearing up to be the best they’ve ever done, I imagine that only a proper big screen send off will do justice to this great cinematic series.

It looks as if this is going to become a popular trend known as “Event Television”. This means that we are starting to treat our television the way we have typically treated films — theater releases, multiple promo trailers, press tours, industry generated hype. We aren’t quite to film status, but with the move to release TV episodes in theaters, I think we could be soon. Our definitions of media are blurring together, and TV is becoming just as important as film.

And, really, that’s the truth of it — with the improving technological and industry standards for television, shows are becoming just as high quality as films. Longtime film actors, directors, and producers are moving to the small screen, and bringing their talents with them. This means that shows look as good as films, and perhaps they really do deserve the same special treatment. Shows are also now easily costing as much to make as films.

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“The Final Problem” Sherlock S4 aired in theaters in 2017. Source: BBC.

Going to see something in theaters is a special experience. It’s uniquely personal, and when you decide to make the effort to leave your home and pay the money to go to the theater, it’s because you want to be completely immersed in that storyworld. And it is an investment — you have to believe that the storyworld you’re choosing will be worth your time and money.

But for many of us, our most beloved storyworlds and characters come from television shows, because we get vastly more time with them and we already have a connection to them. We don’t have to gamble. But we still want to be completely immersed, maybe even more so than with the random action flick picked from the paper one slow Friday night. Television shows are now being made at film quality, so they deserve the movie theater treatment. Some shows, like SherlockGame of Thrones, maybe Westworld, are made with visual grandeur, so shouldn’t we respect that they would do best on the big screen?

This is what is being called “Event Television,” and it means that — from a marketing perspective — that a particular episode is so important that it demands to be treated as an event, one which you get dressed, leave your house, and pay to see. It’s easy to see why the creators/industries would be on board with this. But it makes sense from a viewer’s perspective too. Especially with big episodes/finales, the opportunity to watch them in theaters acts as a sort of ceremony, a tribute to the time and effort put in on both fronts.

I, personally, am completely in favor of this new trend. I love seeing things in theaters, it feels like a special and important thing to someone like myself, who treats media like works of art, and TV shows have definetely proven their worth.


Tell Us: Do you think this new trend is for legitimate reason, or is just an industry cash grab? What show would you pay to see in theaters?

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Author: JaimeeRindy

I love good entertainment. I hope to make it someday!

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