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NY Times: How Will Movies Survive the Next 10 Years?

Discussion in 'Streaming and Digital Media' started by Cranston37, Jun 21, 2019.

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  1. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    It’ll be fine. It’ll be different, for sure. But fine!
     
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  3. Message #3 of 51 Jun 24, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Jake Lipson

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    Frankly, I find several of the quotes in this article very sad, but they seem to represent the way most average non-film buffs are going.
     
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  4. Sam Favate

    Sam Favate Lead Actor

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    This is a great article and everyone who cares about movies should read it.

    Most startling to me is the talk about how young people just don't watch movies; they watch YouTube. They're not concerned with the best picture, just something good enough for their phone. Taken to extremes, it could be the end of the preeminent art form of the last 100 years; at a minimum, we're talking about the start of its dissolution.
     
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  5. Worth

    Worth Cinematographer

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    It's pretty depressing, but at the same time, radio, novels and live theatre still continue to exist. And there are more movies and television shows right now than at any time in history.
     
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  6. Message #6 of 51 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Here's the thing, I think movies will survive because people still enjoy them but what kind of movies will get shown in theaters is really the question.

    The "movie industry" is really not at all what it was and no longer exists to a great extent. In fact we may as well just call it the "content industry" now because that's how these people refer to everything.

    Yes, there is a fight about movies and "theatrical" showings and Spielberg is one of the guys supposedly fighting for seeing movies in theaters...because he's of that age, as am I, where going to a theater to see a film was/is an exciting experience.

    He should also realize he is part of the problem with killing off movies theatrically. Why? Because the "blockbuster" model that he was a part of creating has eaten the industry.

    Why do the Academy Awards lack relevance now? Simple, because the type of films that get nominated for awards are no longer films that theater owners want to show in theaters AND audiences know they can watch "content" like this on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, or name your streaming service, any day of the week.

    These movies now lack "theatricality" because people more and more identify that kind of film with streaming. People still like these films they just don't want to be bothered seeing them in a cinema anymore.

    There is always going to be change when it comes to movies. One of the books I am reading this summer is Pauline Kael's 5001 Nights at the Movies and one of the interesting things about reading all these capsule reviews is that because she covers pictures over a large period of time she identifies things over and over she feels are changing movies from decade to decade.

    As an example, in the 1960s she believes America began to hate itself and so the impact is films became more cynical and critical of our country. In the 1970s she feels television is radically changing movies and "sitcom" writing is heavily influencing writing for film. In the 1980s she sees the growth of the visual effects industry as making a major impact on what is showing up in cinemas.

    These observations all have some truth to them even though I don't agree with all of the ways she uses these ideas for criticizing the pictures she talks about. I, for example, don't think America began to "hate itself" in the 1960s, I just think as a country we went through tremendous cultural upheaval that caused greater cynicism and examination of our direction as a country. I can see how that may look like self hate to someone living through it but honestly I do not think that is what that was.

    Using Kael's model of looking at what has been influencing/changing motion pictures from decade to decade I would say that we can identify what has been impacting the films that get made.

    Video Games: Yes, video gaming has changed things in several ways. Obviously the look of films, particularly effects heavy pictures, has been changed by video games. Motion in a motion picture has become less and less related to the real world and actual physics and more and more drifted into the realm of the video game where things like gravity and any sort of physics do not exist. I recently heard filmmakers, older ones, discussing the idea that the problem with today's CGI is it is unable to give the impression of any sort of weight to the objects moving on the screen. I always refer to this as a lack of gravity. Another aspect of the impact of video games on movies is how characters are presented. In a video game the characters are simple things, not people, and the focus is not on them as people, it is on them as things moving through the created environment. This entirely matches up with how today's blockbusters treat character development...meaning they ignore it because the characters just have to be the "thing" they represent not at all a person. So, you don't need character development anymore in these big films they just toss that out. This impacts both acting and writing. Actors don't need to be great actors or really do much acting at all. They just need to look good moving through the environment of the film. If they deliver a line it will mainly just be about moving the audience to the next set-up or it will be some sort of amusing one liner. Hence why there are no more "movie stars" or great film actors because to have these you need films that focus on the characters and these big films no longer do that. They now just try to find actors that all look the same to cast in these pictures. I think that this just makes it easier when it comes to casting. So, you can use Hemsworth, Tatum, or Pratt and it really changes nothing because they all bring the same thing to the table. It's a video game model.

    CGI: Kael lamented that these effects were changing movies but really...they are now the star of the show. On these big films people are not paying to see actors or stories...nope...they are paying to see what the CGI guys came up with. CGI has gone from a tool, which it still is on smaller pictures, to the main attraction in "blockbusters" and yes, this bleeds over a bit from the video game aspect but on these big pictures the CGI department is under all the pressure to try to show something that keeps the audience coming back. This eliminates the impact of a director on these films because on these big pictures the director is not important. He or she only needs to be able to make sure they shoot the actors and then turn the whole thing over to the CGI department...who will truly finish the film. This is why all of these big blockbusters look the same. There is no stamp from the director or personality from the director...because the films are not driven by the director and what they want is a picture that looks like the last big CGI film.

    The Global Market: One of the big considerations now in what makes it to a theater is can they maximize profit in the global marketplace. This is much more important than things like "Is the script any good?" because now the script is intentionally meant to be simplistic for easy translation to other languages and cultures. If you present someone with a brilliantly written literate script, you have handed them a piece of hot garbage that won't make money in theaters. They want simple one liners, easy to follow plots, and action sequences galore that do not require dialogue. The dumber the better for the most part...not because people are dumb but because complex is the enemy of profit.

    Youth movement: Movies shown in theaters are more and more pointed at young crowds. Basically, anything with a big budget needs to be at the intellectual level of somebody 14 or under. This is who they are chasing outside of global audiences. I think people older than that want to go see a movie at the cinema but why bother when most of what they release there is not made for them?

    Home theater: Yes, this "hobby" now has people staying home. There is even a thread here about why we don't go to the cinema anymore.

    Money: Let's face it, the people that back a film that is going to be distributed in theaters now have that "billion dollar baby" goal for everything they do. Can this be a franchise, can we make sequels, can we do spin-off "universe" films? They now will throw money at these pictures in giant amounts but the people trying to make something that is not a "blockbuster" have to scramble around trying to find about ten to fifteen different entities that will back their picture. The first question that will get asked if a talented director wants to make a film now (Scorsese, Coen brothers, Anderson, whomever) is what kind of money did your last picture make? And the answer is going to be peanuts compared to the last super hero film. A picture that turns a modest profit is no longer worth making it seems. Theater owners want a packed house and so they want the big giant sequel or Marvel film...not a Coen film or a Barry Jenkins picture.

    The bottom line is when it comes to cinemas they want the same film over and over. The heroes save the world or save the universe and along the way lots of stuff explodes and we have a few laughs. That's it. This is now THE MOVIE that they want to make again, and again, and again, and again, and again for the cinema. They have boiled the formula down to the most basic thing they can repeat and the CGI guys keep pumping them out. You would think after seeing that picture over and over and over again people would stop going...and the truth is they have to some extent.
     
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  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Blockbusters didn’t kill the movie theater, nor did they cause people to start disliking mid-budget features.

    Movie theaters, and the movie industry, had a 100+ year advantage where for half of that time, going to movies was the only way to view recorded visual content. For the second half of that period, while no longer the only way to view visual content, was still the only way to see a quality presentation and to have control over what you saw and when.

    Now, for far less than the cost of a movie ticket, you can access the same material that plays in movie theaters at home, often at a quality that meets or exceeds what’s shown in theaters, at the touch of a button and at your total convenience.

    That is the reason why movie theaters and the movie industry are in trouble.

    Most people have a fixed income and they have to make judgments for how best to use that income. Once upon a time, going to the movies was a great value proposition. You got high quality entertainment you couldn’t get anywhere else at inexpensive prices. It’s simply not a great value proposition for many people anymore. The costs have gone up disproportionately to wages, and what theaters offer is no longer unique but merely the first exhibition of material which will soon be available in other venues. Asking people to go out of their way to spend money today for what they can see more conveniently for free tomorrow is not a good value for many people.
     
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  8. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Blockbusters themselves did not no, what they did change though is they provided a formula that the people financing these films wanted to repeat...and then became all they wanted to attempt to make. Particularly right now. They did not cause audiences to dislike other types of films either...they caused the guys trying to make a huge profit and get their hands on the next "franchise" to lose all interest in the mid-budget feature that turns a smaller profit.

    I do think there can be a financial aspect to going to the movies for some people too...you are correct...but mostly what I am focused on here is what will show up in theaters and why which directly points to what will not be showing up in a theater any time soon.
     
  9. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Theaters are also in trouble because instead of just innovating to provide the best quality presentation on an on-going basis, they treat very innovation as a new "premium" experience for which they charge higher and higher prices. IMAX? Charge more. 3D? Charge more. Dolby Cinema? Charge more. Any generic "large format" screen? Charge more.

    But they don't charge any less for that corner auditorium with the dirty screen, broken seats, and faded projector bulb.
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    ^ I'll post more thoughts on that when I have time to do so, but wanted to comment on that right now that the theater I worked at installed DTS sound for Jurassic Park, and of course did not charge anything extra for tickets. Most shows the first week sold out, and we speculated that the equipment had already paid for itself during that time. Of course it turned out DTS didn't help movies like "Flipper" that nobody wanted to see, and plenty of people complained that it was too loud.
     
  11. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think you are missing the “why” for those films not showing up in a theater anymore.

    Yes, blockbusters have been proven to make lots of money, and studios like that - but the economics of their business is very different today than it was when movie studios and theaters were the sole source of prerecorded visual entertainment.

    Frankly, blockbusters have probably extended the viability of movie theaters, and this crash of sorts we’re seeing now would probably have happened years earlier were it not for blockbusters.

    Let’s put aside how much my movie tickets cost and look at the nationwide average ticket price, which is allegedly $10. I think that’s lowballing it, but let’s accept it. That means that a family of four is paying a minimum of $40 to see a movie, not counting any ancillary expenses like transportation and snacks. That same family could wait about 60 days, and see the same movie at home for $5. Or they could wait 90 days and see it for free on a subscription service they likely already have. The average American attends the theater four times a year. Most things aren’t going to rise to the level of being worth going out for in an environment where there’s no consequence for not going out to see it.

    Meanwhile, let’s dig a little deeper and look at more specialty movies. Let’s take “High Life,” a Clare Denis film I was interested in. As a NYC resident, I have access to more theaters and more titles than the average moviegoer. I wanted to see this in theaters; however, it was not worth $20 to me to go out of my way to see it at an inconvenient time or at a theater with less than stellar presentations - and that’s what seeing a movie in an art house theater is in 2019 in NYC. Instead, I waited a month or two, and got to see it for $5 at home last night. And I hated it. Instead of spending $20, and traveling out of my home, I was able to pay $5, see it in better quality, and turn it off when I had enough. Even if I had liked the movie - how would spending more to see a lesser presentation in a more inconvenient fashion have been a win for me? It wouldn’t.

    Movie theaters aren’t the only ones affected by these changing paradigms. Individual album sales are way down because most people now opt for subscriptions over a la carts. Why should I spend $15 for the new Bruce Springsteen album when it’s already instantly available for free on a service I have? Television ratings are down. Why should I watch a TV broadcast live with commercials when I can watch it on my DVR without commercials half an hour later?

    It’s not that the content has lost appeal. It’s that the delivery systems from 50 and 100 years ago are becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s non-linear digital world. For years, distribution was the hardest part of the equation and the form was bended towards what delivery systems are available. As we shift into a world where delivery and access are no longer the biggest hurdles a content producer faces, the form will bend again.
     
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  12. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Thanks to the moderators for merging my previous thread with this one. I had put mine in the movies forum (where there was not a previous thread on the article) and didn't think to look in the streaming section.

    Fandom Entertainment (formerly known as Screen Junkies News, the people who do the Honest Trailers) had a great discussion/analysis of this article on their show yesterday:

     
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  13. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    No major motion picture should ever be photographed with someone's iPhone in mind.
     
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  14. Message #14 of 51 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    Streaming does not have to equate to watching on an iPhone.
     
  15. PMF

    PMF Producer

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    "In "Lawrence of Arabia," one of the greatest shots of all time is when he comes over the vast landscape as this tiny little dot on a camel. There are moments when you want to do a cool shot like that, but you go "When people end up watching this on their phone, they're not going to see anything." It's a terrible way to have to think, but you've got to keep it in your brain."
    - Paul Feig
     
  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That is such a straw man argument.

    Since the beginning of film, films have been viewed in different environments by different audiences expecting different things from them. Even David Lean, shooting Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm, was well aware that the majority of people seeing his film would do so not in 70mm with multitrack sound, but on 35mm reduction prints on smaller screens with monaural audio.

    That some people watch movies on phones hasn’t stopped Christopher Nolan from making large format IMAX films, nor did it stop Disney and Marvel from shooting their latest Avengers films with IMAX cameras.

    Some phones today are bigger than the TV I had as a kid. No one here is gonna mock me for watching movies on a tiny TV when that was what was available to me. I don’t see the point in being snobbish towards people in similar situations today who have phones instead of tiny TVs. And the 4K resolution and HDR capabilities built into a phone today are certainly far better than the small black and white standard definition tube that was in my tiny TV.
     
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  17. Message #17 of 51 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Cranston37

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    It's a legitimate point you are making, but let me re-write that quote to illustrate Josh's point:

    "In 'Lawrence of Arabia,' one of the greatest shots of all time is when he comes over the vast landscape as this tiny little dot on a camel. There are moments when you want to do a cool shot like that, but then you go 'When people end up watching this on their television, they're not going to see everything. The sides will be cut off.' It's a terrible way to have to think, but you've got to keep it in your brain."

    In other words, with things such as silent to sound, black and white to color, widescreen to pan and scan, now theater to streaming - streaming is not bringing something upon film that has not always been there.
     
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  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    One thing seems very clear to me, and has since long before this article was published: the movie industry as it existed in the 20th century will not exist for the remainder of the 21st century. If the industry is smart and continues to adapt to meet the audience where it is, as well as innovating to take advantage of technological improvements and audience changes, then they will evolve and will be able to produce great content long into the future.

    What audiences are saying today, loud and clear, is that it doesn't always make sense to their lives today to go to a theater in order to see something. I'm kinda stunned that some of us are arguing against that very basic, very simple, very understandable point, particularly at a place called THE HOME THEATER FORUM. I mean, we're the experts at watching movies at home. And we're surprised that other people also want to watch movies at home? And then, upon discovering that watching movies at home is good, want to keep doing more of that?
     
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  19. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Sure wish I could link David Lynch’s views on watching movies on a phone- ironically I am on my phone right now.

    I think the point of the previous comment was that Paul Feig made sure a detail was visible on a phone screen, when he could have just taken David Lynch’s viewpoint.
     
  20. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Somewhat ironically, David Lynch's most consequential work of the twenty-first century was made for television.
     
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