Spielberg predicts ‘implosion’ of the movie business?
You may have seen this headline in the last 24 hours. It isn’t what you think. You are not a A list filmmaker who has had to justify the stories they are passionate about to studio execs. You are a person who has spent a lot more time on YouTube than either of them put together.
Examine what is said in the listening of an A list director, it’s not what the rest of the world- especially the IT or younger entrepreneur generation thinks he is saying. He’s saying that tent pole movies will die when a string of them fails. For him, that would ‘implode’ the bubble he has to function within as an ‘industry’. Note he and George’s complaint is that even they have trouble, at least what seems like trouble to them, getting a go ahead.
In the discussion about how someday first run picture tickets will be priced like Broadway show tickets, you can hear the echoes of lunch and dinner conversations of intelligent folks who live inside the boundaries that success in the film industry creates. Show business references are what is available to them. Actual information age references, not so much.
It makes a great headline, and oh if only Spielberg or Lucas- who for better or worse has sort of put himself on a shelf) really got it- like in their gut- and demanded a studio start using real network techniques like crowdsourcing among others, to choose what projects to do and what distribution models to experiment with, since they could actually drive such initiatives.
For decades “Hollywood” the industry- not the geography, has had control of it’s audience. When it had total vertical integration, it told the audience when and where to show up, how much to pay, and it delivered a new product. Even when challenged by technologies like sound, television and the VCR, the industry maintained control of that audience, even while being totally in opposition to it. In every case, the industry ended up profiting, and in the case of home video, developing the single largest piece of it’s revenue pie.
But today, the internet has not only proven to be different, it has given that audience a means to not just see what they want, when they want, but also pay what they want. Instead of embracing the opportunity to have true relationships with their customers, Hollywood continues to focus on ‘consumers’ and ‘thieves’. It has been so attached to it’s incredibly successful window model that it has failed to distinguish why people go to the theaters correctly, and ignore the chance to know which movie to make before spending a dollar (“ Veronica Mars” has already paid for itself) and who will buy the ticket before it’s released.
It wasn’t that long ago that nobody in the business would talk about day and date, and if Steve Jobs hadn’t traded Pixar for the single most influential seat on a studio board, they might not have ever licensed anything to an internet distribution.
It isn’t hard to understand not being able to get Lincoln sold- I mean you know how it ends. “What new angle is there on Lincoln- oh yeah somebody already did Lincoln as vampire killer. What else have you got Steve? “ This is how six figure development execs think, and for good reason. They haven’t embraced any new way to sell using this customer relationship tool called the internet. And while it doesn’t generate much sympathy, it isn’t easy being George or Steve in today’s internet economy.
What Spielberg suggests not that far into his statement, is that the ‘paradigm will change’ when in fact it already has. Hollywood has ceded control of the audience- the internet’s most trusted name in content distribution is YouTube, not Fox or Disney or Paramount or the company that could have taken this title- Sony.
It’s kind of like the dinosaurs saying something is going to happen after the asteroid struck and the greenery is already half gone.
They don’t think the studios are going away, nor do they think day and date is around the corner. Just mega budget movies won’t be the leading form of studio product. For many in the public and the internet generation, this isn’t an ‘implosion’, just more of the same.