Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Hollywood Babble On & On #1238: Who Is To Blame?

If there is one thing most people agree on, it's that the movie business is in a sorry state. Too many sequels, remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, and the sequels to the re-imagined reboots of the remakes.
Even Dustin Hoffman, one of the most successful and respected movie actors of his generation thinks the movie biz is in the worst state it's ever seen.
I guess he finally got around to seeing those Fockers movies.
Anyway, some like to blame the executives who decide which films get made, I am one of those people, and some like to blame the audience who they think is getting dumber by the day.
Actually, the blame is more widespread and more complicated than we previously thought.
So let's break it down into something easy to read and give it a swift kick in the listicles:
1. THE PAIN OF THEATRE GOING. The days of the neighbourhood bijou within walking distance of the average North American home is long dead. For most North Americans getting to a movie means getting in a car, driving down to the mall or downtown, finding a parking space that you'll probably have to pay for, buying your tickets, buying your snacks, and finding a decent seat where you can see the screen and not have your head blown off by the sound system.
Now imagine doing that with a spouse and kids.
Basically what used to be just a casual stroll, and the spending of some loose change, is now a major expedition requiring transportation, hassle, and a hell of a lot of money.
That means that people are more likely than not to just stay home and watch TV unless the production is some sort of massive event/experience that simply can't be duplicated on a home-size screen and sound system that the whole family can enjoy.
Couple that with...
2. THE HIGH COST OF MAKING & SELLING MOVIES. Hollywood's business practices, which I call the "self-fulfilling idiocy" had given the industry an inflation rate not seen outside of Zimbabwe or Weimar Germany. It just keeps getting worse even though new technology has made the ability to make professional looking cinema cheaper and cheaper.
It's not just the large scale epics that were busting out budget wise. Genres that were once reliably affordable, like romantic comedies, straight-up comedies, mystery-thrillers, and small scale action films were beginning to cost more than they could possibly deliver on screen and at the box office. 
It's not just production. The "synergy" promised by the mega-mergers of the studios with media companies only succeeded in hiking the costs of advertising upward to ridiculous levels. Plus, try to sell a smaller, mature, movie that's R-Rated and you're in for a struggle with the media outlets, many of them refusing to carry ads for R-Rated movies, even if their own sin was dropping one too many "fucks" in the dialogue.
To stay in business Hollywood realized that they needed...
3. FOREIGN MARKETS. If a film is going to have a chance of at least breaking even it's going to have to do well internationally in non-English speaking markets. Now the smug cineastes love to lecture about how foreign films are so much better than the dreck Hollywood puts out. But many of those art-house films they like the bloviate about are not the everyday entertainment the locals enjoy. Most of those foreign language films that play in art-houses in North America usually play in art-houses in their home nations.
Do you know what the plebeians in those foreign language markets like?
For the most part: Tits and Explosions.
Plus, a lot of foreign audiences don't mind plot holes that you can drive a truck through as long as what they're viewing is visually exciting and has some sort of hook that'll keep them interested, like having a familiar "branding" associated with it, like it being a sequel, a remake, or part of some pre-existing franchise.
Gee, they sound a lot like what people think of North American audiences, don't they.
But since the average return on a ticket is about 25¢ from every dollar the studios are going to need more than just the world buying tickets, they also need to dominate...
4. HOME VIEWING. The studios need you to buy or rent Blu-Rays, downloads, or streams of their movies, or to watch them every time they appear on cable, so the cable channels will keep paying to air them. This is where they make their real profits over the long term and make it possible to stay in business.
The studios hope that by sticking to big budget franchises the fans for those franchises will repeatedly see the movies, as well as buy the merchandise.
But there's a...
5. A BIG FAT PARADOX. Actually, there are many big fat paradoxes that are making things worse for the movie industry. So let's have a list inside our listicle...
  • The dependence on mega-budget franchises, reboots, sequels, etc., is turning off a lot people who just plain give up on going to movies, and stay home and watch TV.
  • The TV channels and streaming services whose license fees have been the profit margin of the movie biz are getting more and more into producing their own original content. Content that's often far better than the stuff playing in theatres.
  • The foreign markets all have their own domestic film industries, and thanks to the affordable technology, are starting to produce their own domestic content that can compete directly with Hollywood without the dubbing and massive expense.
  • Too many movies, just aren't worth the repeated viewing. They're based on fear, ignorance, and greed, not on a desire to entertain, and they will eventually just gather dust on the shelf.

And that's just a few of the reasons why movies are in the shape they're in.


  1. There is something about going to the theater and seeing a movie. It's the popcorn, the excitement, the people walking down the aisles irritating me...I don't know I would much rather go to the movies than stay home. But I'm sure not many people are like that.

  2. Can it be otherwise? Is it possible to have a movie industry that has honest accounting, reasonable wages for stars be they actors or directors or producers, and modest budgets for G-rated films?

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