The moniker "TV show" feels less relevant than ever. Not only is the television itself starting to look like a relic from another era, but productions budgets have multiplied, movie stars have crossed over, and the once clear-cut line dividing film and TV continues to fade. But one bastion of cinema, until recently, remained steadfast: The Event.
The prodigious festivals, the late night marathons, and the distinct sense of physical, collective spectatorship that elevates some movies beyond the screen – each have remained strictly off-limits to TV viewers who are increasingly turning to their laptops for a quick fix.
For TV, the event has traditionally represented something far less tangible. It related to an imperative – a reason to tune in immediately as a show is broadcast, often taking the form of one-offs, live specials and feature-length simulcasts.
The answer to DVR and streaming has been to enhance the feeling of immediacy: tune in or risk being left out of the cultural conversation. But that was a marketing method meant for a different generation. At the end of 2015, Vulture critic Josef Adalian observed that there were over 400 scripted TV shows on the air in the States that year. In short, it’s harder than ever to keep up.
When Marvel’s Inhumans pilot premiered on IMAX screens earlier this year having been shot entirely with high tech IMAX digital cameras, IMAX Chief Executive Richard Gelfond described it as a new type of "eventisation".
Faced with the dual phenomena of all-at-once streaming and personalised viewing habits, Marvel turned to the supersized cinema screen to premiere its latest series. While Inhumans was met with resounding critical cringe, it nonetheless represented a substantial and positive change in the way that television studios are respecting the big screen potential of TV and attempting to break through cluttered commercial release schedules via the event.