Don’t believe the Hype: filmmaking is doing just fine.
While the MPAA lobby group keep bleating that filmmaking in some way is in trouble because they can’t see how they’ll make “$100 million movies” profitably, the industry is actually doing very well. In fact, there are those who believe that a return to making relevant films people care about is the future of filmmaking. (Movies that people care about, what a concept!)
On the weekend the New York Times published an article - Movies Try to Escape Cultural Irrelevance - that sums up the problem of focusing on the tentpole movie: other than 12-25 year old boys, they’re not particularly relevant:
Several industry groups, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, and the nonprofit American Film Institute, which supports cinema, are privately brainstorming about starting public campaigns to convince people that movies still matter.
It’s a long article and a very good read for those who believe that film is culturally relevant. Personally I’ve long been a fan of Television over Film and I think more culturally relevant Television is being made than film.
But the prospect that a film will embed itself into the cultural and historical consciousness of the American public in the way of “Gone With the Wind” or the “Godfather” series seems greatly diminished in an era when content is consumed in thinner slices, and the films that play broadly often lack depth.
As the awards season unfolds, the movies are still getting smaller. After six weeks in theaters “The Master,” a 70-millimeter character study much praised by critics, has been seen by about 1.9 million viewers. That is significantly smaller than the audience for a single hit episode of a cable show like “Mad Men” or “The Walking Dead.”
“Argo,” another Oscar contender, had about 7.6 million viewers through the weekend. If interest holds up, it may eventually match the one-night audience for an episode of “Glee.”
That must really hurt that your film in distribution can’t out view a cable TV show. But it’s not all bad news.Variety reports that L.A. filming continues its rise and apparently a recent panel USC Law Program Captures Screenshot of a Tough Business complained that “too many films are being made” as if it was a bad thing. I suspect the problem is that movies are being made outside of the big six irrelevant studios by people who care about movies.
But, like the MPAA and “recorded discs”, if it’s not from an MPAA studio, then it really doesn’t matter. At least that seems to be the attitude of the entrenched dinosaurs of the industry. There are many more financially successful movies now than ever before because not everyone believes the only movies worth making have to cost $100 million or so.
What did strike me as interesting, however, is that the article highlights a key point that many of us have been making. The industry really only has itself to blame for continuing to churn out expensive remakes and sequels, rather than investing in quality — the continued quest for “$100 million films” rather than figuring out how to make good movies for less money.
The entrenched players don’t seem to realize that disruption comes from outside. Never within. Those that do not realize this are doomed to be disrupted out of business.