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Are Spielberg and Lucas Right, Is Hollywood Doomed?

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Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were among the speakers at a University of Southern California event this week and both talked about the depressing state  of business in Hollywood, with Spielberg predicting an inevitable “implosion.”

There’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown. There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.

Spielberg predicted, if this implosion happens, movies could adapt more of a Broadway model: “You’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.” Lucas added, if that happens, the bigger movies will play in theaters much longer and smaller projects will go towards TV.

“I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they’re going to be on television,” Lucas said. Spielberg added “As mine almost was. This close — ask HBO — this close.” Later, Lucas said “The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller.”

In light of Lucas and Speilberg predicting Hollywood’s implosions, I got a little opinion or two about the whole thing. A discussion heard a million times over and said more poignantly by those much smarter than me, but like to hear it? Hear it goes…

I consider myself a cinefile, but I don’t frequent the cinema. At least not as much as I used to. Nowadays the only time my butt gets to the theater is when it’s worth it to go; when it’s a big blockbuster like The Avengers, Star Trek Into Darkness or Man of Steel. As much as I enjoy the little films, I can’t be inconvenienced to go to a noisy, sticky, smelly, uncomfortable theater (its either those seats are getting smaller and smaller, or I’m getting fatter and fatter). I can’t spend $12.50 + tax and the rest of my weeks pay check on drink and snacks. I’d rather wait for the average (though often good) movie to come out on BluRay, Netflix, or VOD (which may be the biggest threat to the movie experience and the greatest boon to couch clutchers like myself) and cozy up in my  leather recliner and watch it on my flatty with my sound system.

I know I’m not alone. I think the majority of the populace feels the same way I do. We live in the noughties, where staying in can be, or often is, a better experience than going to the average cineplex. Unless, of course, it’s IMAX, or the Alamo Drafthouse.  We’re too goddamn cozy/cheap to spare our comfort, and money to go to the movies anymore. It’s not worth it.

Does Hollywood recognize this? Do they care? Well, yeah, they do. Question is, how do they respond? Or, rather, how can they respond? The state of the industry is clear… it’s go big or go home. Even if movies tickets and concessions were cheap, it’s still not enough to put asses in seats. Not when the benefit of modern home viewing weighs down the decision of cinema attendance. It’s not a unique enough experience anymore.  Blockbusters are, for the time being, where the big bucks are at. Flicks that people will suffer through the theater going experience for, simply because it’s enough of a reason to go. Tent-pole films that – regardless of quality – (*cough* Fast and the Furious *cough* ) launch/re-launch sequels and franchises.

Is a “bleed it dry” framework  financially viable and a good business model? Can the system sustain itself off a few big movies a year? Well, I’m no economist, but I agree with Spielberg and Lucas, I think the bubble is close to bursting. I don’t agree, however, with their being a shift in paradigm, where big movies will cost 3 times as much to see as the not so big ones. American’s wallets are tapped as it is, ain’t nobody gonna spend $25 to see Iron Man.

Movies were the greatest weekend leisure available to a great many of us, a nice, inexpensive way for a family to escape for a few hours back when  it was affordable and offered an experience that you couldn’t get at home. In this economy and under these circumstances, though, not many movies are culturally supercharged  enough to draw us into the theater and the solution to that may just be for Hollywood to work harder at giving me an experience I’m willing to pay for and not just re-package an old one or price me out the door completely.

Category: Film

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