The Wizard of Oz premiered in 1939 to box office success, earned rereleases in 1949 and 1955, then premiered to an audience of 45 million in 1956. Scholars agree the staggering viewership was the moment the Technicolor musical became a classic.
Today, 45 million people make a genius work of short form video go viral, discover an off-the-radar Netflix movie on their own time, or watch 10 episodes of a TV series in an entire week, even if the show’s only destined for three seasons. In the Streaming Age, where “content” is king, we still mint classics, but it’s easy to mistake the high points as ephemera.
Polygon’s new series, The Masterpieces of Streaming, pins down the movies, series, and the video creations that have been forged in an era where there’s always something new. With streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and many more dominating the conversation, now is the time to take a breath, look back, and refresh the master lists. Storytellers have made masterpieces in the last 20 years, and now we’re putting them in one place.