Entertainment: Why Prey Should Have Been Released In Theaters

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  Why Prey Should Have Been Released In Theaters © Provided by Collider

Prey, the newest film in the long-running Predator series, is finally out after building a lot of buzz over the past several weeks. This was for good reason as director Dan Trachtenberg, who made the similarly strong 10 Cloverfield Lane, has created yet another work that carves out its place in a well-tread franchise that feels fresh. It features a riveting performance from Amber Midthunder as Naru, a resourceful hunter who is seeking to somehow track down the infamous Predator and kill it. Lean and mean with a sharp eye for striking visuals, it is a genuinely outstanding work that demands to be seen on the biggest canvas possible.

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Unfortunately, it isn't showing in theaters anywhere across the globe as it is instead coming straight to Hulu in the US and Disney+ where it's available elsewhere. This is a shame as the film is an exciting work that deserved to be seen on a big screen with all its visceral visuals and action on full display. While this is by no means the first time that something like this has happened in the streaming age, there still is the unshakeable feeling that this was a missed opportunity. A film like this ought to have at least gotten a simultaneous release in theaters to allow for audiences to choose how they wanted to see it. The experience of seeing a film in theaters is fundamentally different in that it is more immersive and usually how the actual creators of the work intended for it to be seen. While there is still much to appreciate in Prey, however you can see it, the vast scope of its landscapes and the many well-constructed sequences would have greatly benefited from showing in theaters. All the dark beauty the film finds in combining the creeping sounds and vibrant visuals doesn't play the same at home.

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While there were a lucky few that got to see the film at San Diego Comic-Con where it received a standing ovation, broader audiences won’t get that same opportunity. The closer and closer the film was to its release, the more strange of a decision this became. This is a Predator sequel that we're talking about, one of the most beloved series that consistently blends science fiction with horror and action to magnificent results. Why would you not release it in theaters? For a film that this many people were excited for to be sent straight to streaming only just feels bizaare. Don’t get me wrong, nothing can fully dull the strength of Trachtenberg’s vision and the confidence with which he executes it. There are so many great moments that emerge as some of the best of the series. Whether it is the battle in the ashes surrounded by the dead trees or the many junctures where Naru methodically makes her way through danger, all of these are exactly what would absolutely kill in a theater. At home? It just isn't going to leave the same impact even as its story being told doesn't pull any punches.

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While there are plenty of possible reasons why the film may have skipped theaters, none of them are about curating the best possible viewing experience. It all reeks of being a business decision as opposed to an artistic one. By no means should films be prohibited from streaming, it is an integral part of the release landscape. However, when a television show turned into a feature film like Bob’s Burgers was able to get a theatrical release before going to Hulu and Prey was not, something feels off. This is no disrespect to the Belchers, they seem like a lovely family, but the priorities here remain perplexing. This decision-making does a disservice to everyone involved who put their heart and soul into this work of art. For Midthunder, who gives a commanding performance that never lets up, to not get her flowers on the big screen just doesn’t make sense. To see Trachtenberg, who clearly loves playing around with genre, not get to release his second intriguing feature into theaters is a massive disappointment. We all remember going to see a movie in the cinema that really blew us away and Prey had the potential to be one such work from the brilliant opening moment where the clouds are disrupted by a descending spacecraft as the title card drops. It took familiar material in truly thrilling directions that doesn't quite hit as hard on the small screen.

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The theatrical experience is what makes works like Prey shine brightest as there is just something magical in getting to take in all the details of a well-crafted piece. From the rustling sounds of approaching danger to the creepy clicking of the Predator stalking its prey to the terrifying sight of it emerging from camouflage, it all feels hindered by streaming. On top of that, as this last week has shown us, entire films can vanish from these services based on the whims of those who oversee them. They also often don't get physical releases, meaning we are effectively only ever renting them even when we pay a subscription to any of the many streaming sites. While it certainly seems like Prey will thankfully get some sort of physical release later this year, it is hard to shake the feeling of how quickly this could change if a streaming service decided to prohibit that. While artists have never had complete ownership of their work as it remains a business to get them made in the first place, the growing shift away from the best way of both presenting and preserving their films is a step backward.

While you should absolutely still take in the viciously vibrant experience of Prey, its lackluster release serves as the most present and profound example of why solely streaming is not the best path forward. When you go into a theater and put away all distractions to take in a work in the best possible setting, there is nothing else like it. It is the closest thing to having an out-of-body experience, save for hallucinogenic drugs, as you are transported into the vast potentials of a different world. It is the culmination of months or even years of various artists all coming together to make something. While there can be bad moviegoing experiences where the films end up falling flat, there is nothing that is quite like seeing an enthralling work thoroughly capture your imagination. Prey is one of the latter ones, gripping and gruesome while still being gorgeously shot. It is a beautiful creation that embraces its B movie sensibilities which it then turns into something spectacular. It is a shame most of us won’t get to see it in its full glory though one hopes that future films like it will get a more fair shake.

Prey Debuts as Highest-Rated Predator Movie on Rotten Tomatoes .
Prey, the newest film in the franchise, has more good reviews than any other installment in the Predator movie series.Going back to the original Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the hit film sits at Rotten Tomatoes with a fresh 80% score, which is still respectable, not not as high as Prey. However, the original Predator did better with its audience score, which reached 87%. The following scores for Predator movies include 1990's Predator 2 at 30% and 44%; 2010's Predators at 65% and 52%; and The Predator at 33% and 33%.

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