If anyone knows the film business, Steven Spielberg does. Many consider him a visionary. He’s been a force that has shaped the industry as we know it. So, if it’s true that Spielberg knows the film biz, the industry is in for some hard times. His most recent prediction is not a happy one.
As part of a panel at USC for the opening of the university’s School of Cinematic Arts’ new Interactive Media Building, Spielberg predicted the “implosion” of the film industry. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Spielberg predicted things could wind up so that: “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.’ “
According to Spielberg the industry could falter if, as he predicts, several high-budget, high-profile films fail. The impact could alter the film industry as we know it. “That’s the big danger, and there’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown, “he explained. “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”
And this is not only Spielberg’s take on the state of the film industry. George Lucas, who was also on the panel, concurred with Spielberg’s view. According to Lucas, cable television is now “much more adventurous” than the movie industry. The two film giants told the students that this is a time of huge changes both for the film industry and filmmakers. “The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller,” explained Lucas.
The irony is that these pronouncements come from two filmmakers who helped usher in the blockbuster film world that we now live in. But I doubt that even they could envision the direction that the film world would take. Studios now pour hundreds of millions into huge blockbuster films. Those films pay for just about everything else’s the studios do, but when those blockbusters begin to fail, the walls will come crushing down. Add to that the threat that TV poses, particularly cable and the new online on demand models that are surfacing, and the traditional film model is in real trouble.
But, at least from my perspective, having worked as a film producer, writer and film PR consultant, this could be the best thing that could possibly happen to the industry. Yes, there could be a huge shakeup which will be uncomfortable for many, but these huge films with their bloated blockbuster budgets have strangled the industry. There is no room left in the traditional model for low budget or mid range films that tell an interesting story and offer actors roles that allow them to actually act.
The current film industry model is to bet the entire industry on the success or failure of blockbusters Either the studios, and the film world as a whole, will realize that they are playing a losing hand, and change their gameplan accordingly, or they will learn the hard way. For as Spielberg and Lucas predict, the inevitable is coming.
If they take those hundreds of millions and make smaller budget action, fantasy, or sci-fi films that work and then produce films in a number different genres that target different audiences, that will help spread the risk. The industry needs to produce more films that target different sectors. Those films will make more modest returns, that’s true, but there will be more of them and costs will be kept in check. Under this model you’ll not only have a much saner approach to film making, you’ll end up with more creative, dynamic compelling films. The movie industry is more than aliens, robots, superheroes and CGI. It’s about storytelling.
So filmmakers take heart. Yes the film world is in for a wild ride, but it will be one that in the end could very well offer more producers, directors and actors more opportunities and will offer the public more quality films.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013
Megzus. “Cool Movies and Films of 2012, 2011, and 2013.” Photo. Megzus. 14 Jan 2013. 17 Jun 2013. <http://bit.ly/175Mz2J>