Monday, 12 January 2015

You Asked For It: An Apocalyptic Question

I didn't watch the Golden Globes last night. So instead of judging a show I didn't watch, I'm going to answer a reader's questions.
Nate Winchester asked: 
I heard someone say before, I'll tweak their point now: 
D, do you think zombies and all the other apocalypse films/tv/etc are filling the airwaves right now because Hollywood senses that their end is coming? 
In light of that, what do you think the post-apocalyptic scene will look like? When Hollywood collapses because it's chopped off its own legs, what do you think might happen next? (doesn't have to be accurate, just tell us a story)
One thing you have to know about Hollywood is that they don't really sense anything. Deep feelings of foreboding over their own future requires something Hollywood doesn't have, which is depth. Also they're lacking in long term thinking, being only able to see the next quarterly report and their next bonus and/or stock option.

What they do have is a sense of sight, and when they see a dystopic or post-apocalyptic project sell big, like The Hunger Games, or The Walking Dead, they hop on the bandwagon.

Apocalyptic projects sell because of a sense among the general population of just how fragile their comfortable first world lives are because they're technology dependent.

I lose my internet connection for an hour and I'm ready to go full Mad Max on everyone by minute thirty-five.

As for what happens to Hollywood after the end of their unique civilization…

The major studios are faltering, but they have enormous bulk and infrastructure on their own, and almost all of them are part of even bigger media conglomerates. Conglomerates that span the world, and keep on growing.

Steve from Mergers & Acquisitions.
That means that any alternative can easily be subsumed, and ultimately consumed by the already existing media mega-conglomerates. Possibly via homicidal android merger & acquisition specialists, but I won't make any promises.

But seriously...

What we might see is a replay of what happened back in the turn of the century and the teens. Back then the fledgling movie biz was dominated by the Edison Trust. A clique of companies who sought a monopoly on the movie business.

They did everything they could to maintain that monopoly, from lawsuits to goons doling out threats and vandalism, and seemed unassailable.

They're all out of business now.

What happened?

The studios we know today were independent upstarts who rebelled against the Edison Trust. They beat the Edison Trust not in court, but with the audience.

You see the Trust's companies had two policies which doomed them. They suppressed the development of "stars" to keep salaries artificially down, by keeping their names out of the public eye, the most famous being the star known only as the "Biograph Girl". Also the Trust decided that the audience would want stories that the Trust told them to want.

The upstarts rebelled by creating the "star" system, by giving popular performers credit and using them to promote their films. The upstarts also looked at what the audience was looking for in the way of stories and they delivered.

Over the next 20 years the Edison trust companies crumbled and either faded into oblivion or were taken over by the upstarts who are the major studios we know today.

How do I see history repeating itself?

First, it won't repeat itself exactly as it happened before.

The means of making and delivering content have exploded. It's now possible to create Hollywood grade entertainment in your own basement if you have the time, money, and talent.

However, making something, and getting it out for sale is one thing, another is selling it to an audience. It's hard to compete against a major studio's ad-buy that's bigger than the annual budget of a third world government budget. 

But it's not impossible.

So what I think is that we'll see outfits like Netflix, Amazon, and their upcoming competition begin to drift away from working solely with the major studios, because they can't produce the quantity and quality these outlets need. They'll look more to indie companies, who, if they play their cards right will grow, then be bought by the major studios.

The majors will then eventually sanitize what made them successful out of these upstart companies, go right back into the rut that made the upstart possible, and go and buy the next upstart.

The studios will then shift not from being content producers into consumers of actual content producers on a corporate level.

At least that's what I see in my crystal ball.

No comments:

Post a Comment