It’s something Bill Collins would probably be up in arms about.
Netflix, Presto and -to a lesser extent- Stan are offering subscribers very little in the way of “Classic” Hollywood films.
Want to see Anchorman 2, Snakes on a Plane or Crazy Stupid Love? Sure they are there.
But you could be waiting a long time for All About Eve, Bridge on the River Kwai or Casablanca. They are nowhere to be seen.
Most of the content on the three new streaming players focusses on post 1970s. Stan does have a Classics genre section with 34 movies including The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Children’s Hour, West Side Story and The Graduate. But even 34 classics across decades of Hollywood cinema falls short.
New Netflix subscribers are asked to complete a whiz-bang taste profile that will personalise the library to their interests. It drills down far beyond genres into the tone of movies, the style of filmmaking and the decades in which films were produced. But it fails to offer Classics as a genre. The oldest film listed under Critically Acclaimed movies appeared to be 1966’s The Good The Bad and the Ugly. I couldn’t even find any Musicals, unless you count South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut as a musical (I don’t).
Evidence suggests it only offers the genres in which it has sufficient Search results. It was a question their friendly Customer Service could not explain.
“I did pass the suggestion to add those search functionalities. And we are a very feedback driven company,” they advised.
Presto also does not offer a Classics genre. Like Netflix, a small amount of oldies are found under other genres such as Drama, Romance etc. In their Red Carpet Pictures Winners the oldest flick is 1981’s Chariots of Fire. That’s despite Foxtel having entire channels such as TCM dedicated to Hollywood cinema. So is this a rights issue?
A Presto spokesperson told TV Tonight, “Our classic era movies isn’t as deep relative to the rest of the content we have, but it is a priority for the content team looking to acquire a stronger library of classic era hits.”
A Netflix spokesperson said the team were also working on this part of its content (The US Netflix store has some 7000+ more titles than the Aussie store).
Critic and presenter Andrew Mercado told TV Tonight, “Including classic movie titles – as well as some nostalgic television- could be a real point of difference for someone. A good movie is a good movie, regardless of what year it was made. But everyone is so caught up in the now, nobody has time to see value in the past.”
Marc Fennell, Film Critic for SBS & triple j , said, ‘The rights to these shows are likely to be very low in cost and they could potentially help attract a vast array of older viewers who haven’t yet seen reason to sign up to these services.
“Y’know the interesting thing about these services? They’re model is to be all things to all people. Take Netflix for example: they’re producing and acquiring high end prestige dramas like House of Cards, action series like Marco Polo & Daredevil, Comedy like Kimmy Schmidt, Young Adult entertainment like Between. If they truly want to lock off the full spectrum then they should rightfully chase classic movies and tv from before the 1960’s. Great television and cinema existed then and these new streaming services are the perfect platforms to reintroduce them and I would love to see them use their pushing power to reintroduce eras of cinema worth revisiting.”
Stan currently out performs its rivals in the Classics range, but while subscribers are paying a fee it’s disappointing so much history is being overlooked by so many.
Just don’t anybody dare tell Bill Collins.