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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. Message #21 of 51 Jun 25, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I don't personally enjoy watching anything on my phone, but from an objective point of view, I am capable of realizing that the display quality on my little iPhone is so good that a lot of these concerns about things not being visible on them seem way overblown. My phone has better resolution than my projector. It's an incredibly high quality display miniaturized to an extent I would have never imagined possible as a child in the 1980s. And again, while it's not my first choice of ways to view something - it sure is nice to have the option to watch something of my choosing on it when I'm commuting or on a flight somewhere.

    And putting Paul Feig's quote back in the context of the article, it was in a discussion on how the knowledge that some people would view their work on phones following the conclusion of a theatrical run meant that they were looking for tighter framing for insert shots where it was vital to the plot that the audience can understand whatever important text was being read by a character. I'm not prepared to call that kind of accommodation a crime against humanity.

    Ava DuVernay had a great point, where she was talking about what the goal for filmmakers is, whether the goal was to have something play in a theater (regardless of whether or not people ever saw it there), or whether the goal was to have their work discovered and enjoyed by an audience. Fifty years ago, those two concepts were essentially one and the same. These days, they're not. She's not speaking from some theoretical vantage point. Her "Selma" film, while not a flop, was essentially a blip on the box office radar and didn't reach the audience she hoped it would, because that audience isn't served by the movie theater infrastructure that we have. On the other hand, her follow-up project which was a Netflix documentary about the prison system (which is certainly a less uplifting and presumably less appealing topic than MLK and a moment of historical triumph) - but it was seen by more people on Netflix than "Selma" was seen in theaters. DuVernay had a story she wanted to tell, and she met her audience where they were. Is that really such a terrible thing? That instead of trying to find theatrical funding to make a documentary which might play in a couple cities, at best might gross in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, struggle to be seen and then be forgotten after awards season, and in the process losing money for all involved and making it harder for everyone to get their next project funded, instead went to a place that already had the audience she wanted and took advantage of that?

    DuVernay uses the word "privilege" a lot in her interview and I had never really thought of it that way before, but her words and her points have been sticking with me. Paul Feig, interviewed separately, winds up being the perfect example of the point she's making. He made a mid-budget thriller last year called "A Simple Favor" which didn't do particularly well at the box office, which was perhaps a first for him. It was a complete mismatch between the film he wanted to make and the types of films that the general audience has deemed worthy of seeing in a theater. Because of his past success in the industry, he was able to get a theatrical release for a film that had little chance of doing well in a theatrical environment, and, as anyone could have predicted, it didn't do that well. It cost about $30 million to make, but only grossed about $16 million. Throw in advertising costs and the split between the theaters, and the funders of this film lost more than half the amount of money they put into it. And probably anyone with even a passing knowledge of box office trends could have told them that before they even began shooting. But Feig was in a position to demand a theatrical release, and the company that backed him lost a small fortune accommodating that demand. On the other hand, as Feig noted in the article, if he had gone with a streaming release on a platform like Netflix, the film would have been seen by a much wider audience and its backers wouldn't have lost money on it. [EDIT: These box office numbers are not correct; I had looked up a different film by mistake]

    So I guess my question is, are filmmakers like Feig and films like "A Simple Plan" entitled to a theatrical release when that is no longer a profitable or sustainable avenue? Does it make sense to release a film like "A Simple Plan" in a fashion that will cause all involved to lose money and will prevent the film from being seen by an audience that might actually appreciate it? Exactly what point is being proved by doing so? Who is benefiting from that?
     
  2. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    I saw the film Paul Feig mentioned in the article, A Simple Favor, in a theater. It was reasonably crowded and the audience seemed to enjoy it. I'm glad it got a theatrical release as I enjoyed seeing it that way. But my ticket was $7.61, so it's not like I moved the needle all that much in terms of the gross. According to Box Office Mojo, it was budgeted at $20 million and made $97 million worldwide. 3 times its budget would be $60 million, so that actually looks like a hit relative to what they spent on it, although it is certainly a lower gross/smaller audience Feig has been accustomed to post-Bridesmaids.

    https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=asimplefavor.htm
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I apologize, it appears that I was looking at the Box Office Mojo page for a similarly titled film and made a mistake. Thank you for double checking that and catching that error.

    However, the general point is still valid - there are plenty of films that are being made in this budget range that simply aren't finding audiences in theaters and are causing their backers to lose money. They may not be poor quality films, but they're a mismatch for the marketplace. Meanwhile, there is plenty of comparable work being done for premium cable and premium streaming that is finding a much larger audience, and taking up a much larger place in the cultural consciousness, by being released for home viewing rather than theatrical viewing.
     
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  4. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    Oh, there is no question that your larger point is still valid.

    One of my favorite films last year was "Juliet, Naked," which incidentally featured two of the stars Paul Feig worked with on Bridesmaids. I don't have any idea what its budget was -- I would be surprised if it was anywhere near $20 million -- but it starred Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd and played Sundance before being bought by Roadside Attractions. They put it in theaters over the late summer with a nominal marketing push and grossed $3.4 million in 10 weeks from a maximum theater count of only 467 screens. There were maybe three or four other people in the theater when I saw it. There's no way it made money. Audiences who wanted a romantic comedy in theaters last summer went to Crazy Rich Asians, so even if there had been more marketing for it, Juliet Naked still would have struggled in that window. https://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=julietnaked.htm

    Meanwhile, Netflix has been making a lot of noise with romantic comedies like To All the Boys I've Loved Before and Always Be My Maybe. I'm glad that I got to see Juliet, Naked in a theater, and I'm glad that I own the disc. (which would not be possible if it went to Netflix, since they want to keep their movies exclusive.) But I've been waiting for Juliet, Naked to turn up on Netflix or Prime so that I can convince some of my friends to watch it, since they'l take my recommendations if they don't have to pay for it. I recently learned that Juliet, Naked has gone to Epix in its post-theatrical window, which won't do the film any favors since that's one of those premium channels that no one seems to actually have. Like I said, I'm glad that the movie got a theatrical release and a disc. However, it's hard not to wonder what exposure on Netflix could have done for the film.
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Two things from this I wanted to break out and address in more detail.

    The first is "Crazy Rich Asians" - I really enjoyed that movie, and if I'm remembering right, you did too. It's a ridiculously fun, very entertaining romantic comedy that's actually very traditional in its form and structure. But what's new about it is that it wasn't an all-white or mostly-white cast, something which defined the romantic comedy subgenre for a very long period. It reflected the diversity I see in the world around me on a daily basis, and allowed a whole group of people who weren't used to seeing themselves portrayed onscreen to have that experience. But there was universality in that specificity; as a white viewer, I had no trouble following the movie and getting into the swing of things with it and was completely invested in the characters and their story arc.

    I think that movie did well for a bunch of reasons: that it was a really good movie, that it allowed an underrepresented group to have a moment in the spotlight, and that it did so without alienating people outside of that group.

    Meanwhile, to pick on Paul Feig some more (and I did see and enjoy "Simple Favor" for whatever that's worth), that was yet another film that featured wealthy white characters caught in situations that seemed unrealistic or unimaginable to unbelievable to a wider portion of the population. And there's nothing wrong with doing a movie about wealthy white characters in and of itself. But, at least from a marketing point of view, it felt like exactly the kind of thing that we've been getting for years and years. If the average moviegoer only goes to see four movies in a theater each year, was there anything about "Simple Favor" that demanded to be one of those four choices?

    I would bet it would have done significantly better. Part of the problem with going theatrical for a release is that the fate of that theatrical release will (in almost every case) remain tied to the perception of the film at large, for all time. So, if you put out "Juliet Naked" into theaters and it doesn't do anything... that hurts it when it winds up on disc or on streaming services, because in the perception of the audience, it's a flop and not worth their time. Meanwhile, if Netflix had put it out, they would have promoted it on their service and put effort into making sure it got eyeballs.

    This might seem random, but I've been thinking lately about the days when studios owned their own theaters, and you'd go and see, for instance, a Paramount picture at a theater that was owned by Paramount. Ultimately the government decided that was a monopoly and broke it up, but in many ways, it worked for the creativity of the business. Studios owned theaters. Theaters needed to have content 52 weeks of the year. Studios couldn't afford to make each picture a top-of-the-line, giant A-list affair, so they produced a mix of expensive, mid-budget and inexpensive content, and rather than putting all their hopes and dreams on a single film's success or failure, looked at the balance sheet over the course of the year. They knew that some things would be hits, that some things would be flops, that others would break even but not do much more, and that occasionally they might also make a really great film that might rightly be considered art. Without the pressure of each film needing to ensure the survival of the company, individual filmmakers found niches where they could express more idiosyncratic points of view. If you look at what Netflix is doing today, it doesn't seem that far removed from the way the studios used to operate. Netflix has a ton of subscribers, and wants to keep them, but not everyone has signed up for the same reason, so they have to make a variety of content that fits in a variety of different niches, some meant to appeal to larger audiences, some meant for smaller audiences. Audiences (mostly) subscribe for the service as a whole, not for one thing in particular, which makes those audiences more willing to try new content that they'd be wary of seeing in theaters. And in a way, that seems better to me than this:

    And that's not sustainable. Theaters have fixed operating costs that can't really be trimmed or changed to a large degree. Theaters need to pay rent year-round, even if they only have a couple profitable months on the calendar. Theaters need to pay their employees, even when people don't come out to see a movie. Theaters need to pay for equipment maintenance and upkeep, even if no one's watching. Some people think that tentpoles, like the ones Disney produces, suck all of the oxygen out of the room, and that if Disney and everyone else just stopped making tentpoles, that all of that tentpole money would flow to other smaller films, and the movie ecosystem from a pre-digital age would simply return. I do not believe that to be true. I think without those tentpoles, those audiences aren't migrating to other movies in the same theater; they're migrating to other forms of entertainment entirely.
     
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  6. Jake Lipson

    Jake Lipson Lead Actor

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    You're right @Josh Steinberg -- I did like Crazy Rich Asians very much. By mentioning it, I wasn't trying to pick on it; I simply meant that, because it struck a chord with audiences at that particular time for many of the reasons you stated, it became the default choice for audiences seeking a romantic comedy film in theaters last summer. There does not appear to be enough interest in romantic comedies on the big screen right now to support two of them both racking up large grosses at the same time. There are other reasons that Juliet, Naked did not do well relating to its marketing, but even if those had been handled better, it still would have come out around the same time that Crazy Rich Asians was making waves and attracting all the attention.

    I'm about to head out to the movies in a few minutes actually, but I'll come back later to discuss some more of your points because there's more I want to get into here.
     
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  7. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I didn’t think you were picking on Crazy Rich Asians at all - I think we’re both nibbling the edges of a similar point: the romantic comedy as done in the 20th century no longer holds the same theatrical appeal. But that doesn’t mean that romance or comedy is dead. It just means that audiences won’t necessarily pay top dollar to see more romantic comedies that are exclusively or primarily focused on wealthier white people.

    I think Crazy Rich Asians did well in part because it was a genre that audiences in general like but done from a different perspective. It had everything that people like in a romantic comedy, but the casting and location was a new twist. It felt both comforting and familiar, and like something I hadn’t seen before.

    I think that scales in both directions. In a similar way, Black Panther and Captain Marvel don’t really break any new ground in terms of technical merits or story structure, but they overperformed compared to most other Marvel Studios origin movies because they widened the potential audience. For you or me, they might have been just another in a long line of Marvel productions, but for the audiences they reflected, it was the first time that the hero in the driver’s seat looked like them.

    Making films that take into account that our demographics are different today than decades ago, and that many markets have been underserved for years, is one of many different things that studios can do to make their films more culturally and socially relevant, which will increase audience interest.

    I don’t think there’s one single thing alone that could save and grow the theater business, if it can be saved. I think it’s going to take a lot of things, and having a Crazy Rich Asians or a Captain Marvel on the slate is just one of those puzzle pieces.
     
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  8. jcroy

    jcroy Producer

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    On the television side, would this ^ explain the success of the Fox show Empire (with Taraji P Henson) ?
     
  9. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I’ve never seen the show and don’t know much about it so I can’t claim to have an informed take. But when I look at it’s credentials, I see a show being made with top talent in front of and behind the camera, many of whom have had success with theatrical releases. It’s probably doing well for a bunch of reasons including that it’s good, that it is made by and for a diverse audience, and that it follows a trend of a modern audience preferring mid-budget storytelling at home rather than in theaters. Right content, right format, right medium.
     
  10. cinemiracle

    cinemiracle Screenwriter

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    Movies will survive for generations to come. It is unfortunate that cinema screens are getting smaller ( and home cinemas are getting bigger). IMAX has with few exceptions, become like the INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and decreased so much in size and placed in multiplexes. Not true IMAX! Even cinemas that screen 70mm films are mostly in multiplexes and the films are projected onto cinemascope sized screens and often without any curtains and no screen curvature. Blockbusters have been around for over 60 years. How many of us can remember when 70mm films were shown on 60 plus feet wide deeply curved screens? Films such as SOUND OF MUSIC and SOUTH PACIFIC in 70mm would run for more than four years in London and Sydney. Many 70mm films ran over a year at the same cinema. Even 35mm films had lengthy runs: THE GRADUATE and CABARET each ran for almost a year in Sydney.TO SIR WITH LOVE ran for over a year in Perth (Australia). Even some foreign films would run for more than a year at the same cinema. A MAN AN A WOMAN (in Sydney) ONIBABA ( in Montreal).DILWALE DULHANIA LE JAYENGE ( A 3 hour masterpiece that ran for over 10 years in one cinema in India.). To-day even the biggest blockbuster only runs for weeks rather than years.
     
  11. Message #31 of 51 Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Worth

    Worth Cinematographer

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    I suppose it depends on where you are, but I find cinema screens to be much larger now than they were in the past. There were a lot of multiplexes built in the 80s with tiny screens, but they're pretty much all gone now, and their replacements have very big screens, even in the smaller auditoriums.
     
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  12. Reggie W

    Reggie W Producer

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    Yes, again, the issue is not blockbuster films, it is that both theater owners and the people that finance films ONLY WANT THOSE. Rather than spending money on a smaller film that is about telling a single story they want to throw HUGE amounts of cash at anything that could be turned into a "universe" of several pictures. They want the cash grab.

    So, what we will get in a cinema are sequels, big CGI films, animated family films and that's about it. More and more if a film is not specifically designed to be something that will spin off other films...well...they don't want it. It becomes a "give it to Netflix or Amazon" deal. Scorsese's The Irishman is telling a specific story. It is not meant to have a sequel or a "universe" so, it is a Netflix production.

    Movies have competed with other forms of entertainment for years. They have competed with television since the 1950s.

    Streaming is just another form of television. The delivery method is all that has changed. It allows people to watch things at home or wherever they are.

    Yes, I think younger people have embraced streaming. Younger people also don't seem to care much about big screens either, at home or at a cinema. They do watch on their phones because they can.

    For people that post here, I would think watching a movie on a tiny phone screen would be an abomination. I mean we spent a lot of money getting a great home theater.

    I'm 52 so going to the cinema is just something I expect to do and really like to do. My biggest issue with going now is the majority of the "content" at the cinema is not for me. I mean when they release a film like Hostiles, a western, it is pure joy for me to go there and watch that on a huge screen.

    In reality, when I go to the cinema I don't see a lot of young people. I actually see a lot of older people. I end up feeling like the youngster there. I'm sure this has to do with what I am seeing but the last "blockbuster" I went to see was the last Mission Impossible film and it played to a packed house and though I did not do a survey I would bet there was almost nobody under 40 there. I think the under 40 crowd does not really care much about Mission Impossible.

    This kind of makes sense in that Mission Impossible is based on a tv show from a long time ago and even the first film goes back 22 years. Makes me wonder about how stuff like James Bond will even keep going because I mean I don't think most people under 40 really care about it anymore.

    Here's something odd about that, yes, you are right my business partner raised 5 kids and his wife liked to take them to the movies. He would dole out $200 if they all went. The thing is it is the family movies that pack them in because people go as families. So, they are still going in droves despite the cost. My neighborhood is full of families with young kids in the 4 to 12 year old range. They all love superheroes. They run around in the clothing every day. Batman, Superman, Spiderman...if it comes with a costume they are all over it. The parents take them to the films, buy the blu-rays, hell, they have been having outdoor movie nights almost every week this summer.

    Despite the cost, despite the fact that they could wait and watch the films cheaper...well...they go to the cinema, often more than once to see them, buy them for home, buy the clothes...they are dumping plenty of cash into them. The box office numbers prove people go to these films in groups and more than once.

    Family films, which I would count Marvel films as, are what people go to see.

    You get something like Hostiles though, who is the audience for that? I went alone to see it. There was not a child in sight.

    When I was a boy I watched westerns all the time. If I showed a western to the kids in my neighborhood they would have no idea what it was.

    Ouch, sad to hear you did not like it. It is on my list to see as well. I was in Manhattan from last Thursday through Sunday. While I was there I went by the Metrograph as I noticed they were showing Ghost Dog. I love the picture. I was too late to catch the film, it was sold out. So, we had a drink at the bar and then on the way out I asked how it was being projected and they said 35 mm and I asked if I could go in and just have a peek at how it looked. Well, the print that was showing must have been in poor shape. The colors looked faded, it was bouncing and wobbling. I watched for a few minutes thinking, "Wow, if I go home and put on the Blu-ray it will look far better than this."

    I did like the fact that the showing had sold out though but that's New York. People in the city go out and they show up to see films like this.
     
  13. Message #33 of 51 Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    PMF

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    Never forgotten, some 54 years later.:)
     
  14. Message #34 of 51 Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Jake Lipson

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    I don't think that's necessarily true. There is no question that Crazy Rich Asians was helped enormously because of its diverse cast, and that studios should look to it as an example and make more films with diverse casts. But I don't think people would be opposed to paying top dollar for a romantic comedy with a white lead if the movie was really good and that message was conveyed in the marketing. At least, I wouldn't.

    Off the top of my head, Trainwreck was a romantic comedy focusing on a white couple which did very well a few years ago. It had a great marketing campaign which made it look distinctive and fresh and like it had something to unique to say. With it, Amy Schumer was making the leap to film after having headlined her successful show on Comedy Central.

    Since Trainwreck, she has struggled to be the same kind of draw in other films, but the key difference is that she hasn't written any of the films she has starred in since, and the material she's been getting as an actress-for-hire doesn't look as appealing as the material she wrote for herself in Trainwreck. Take that movie that she was in with Goldie Hawn -- Snatched -- I just had to look this up on IMDb to remember what it was called. I saw the trailer for it and I thought, "That looks okay, I might go to it since I liked Amy Schumer in Trainwreck." But then I thought, "If what I really want to watch is Trainwreck, why don't I just watch Trainwreck again?" Why pay for a movie that looks just okay in theaters when I could just pull out my Blu-ray of Trainwreck and watch that again instead? So that's what I did.

    I think romantic comedies are in a space very much like musicals have been for the past decade or so. Every once in a while, there's a movie that really stands out and is a big hit, but they're no longer automatic guaranteed box office draw that they once were. It occurred to me while I was watching it that Juliet, Naked might have been one of the biggest movies of the year if it had somehow existed 20 years ago. It feels like something that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan might have made in the '90s. It's based on a book by a celebrated author (Nick Hornby) whose other books have translated well to the screen (About A Boy, High Fidelity) and tells a charming, well-written story anchored by highly appealing stars who have appeared in other successful films (Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke and Chris O'Dowd.)

    But now, with very few exceptions, movie stars don't open movies; the IP does. We've talked about this at length in other threads. Chris Hemsworth is guaranteed a big hit when he's playing Thor, but put him in Bad Times at the El Royale or Men in Black and people won't come. I saw Juliet, Naked primarily because of the cast, but I'm an oddity. Rose Byrne has been in a lot of movies that have done very well, and I love her work and think she's fantastic, but she hasn't been the centerpiece of most of her big movies. And Juliet, Naked lacked some other factor that would make people pay attention to it in the way that the diversity angle made Crazy Rich Asians part of the cultural conversation last year. The X factor that gets people out to the theater doesn't necessarily have to be diversity (although that never hurts) -- but it has to have something to stand out from the crowd. This weekend, we have another romantic comedy opening: Yesterday. Its "X factor" is that it's also a Beatles movie (or "the Beatles don't exist" movie, as it were), and it is being marketed heavily around the inclusion of their iconic songs. We'll see how it does.

    For sake of comparison, Juliet, Naked had a small distributor (Roadside Attractions) that didn't execute a big campaign for it. I consider myself a fan of all three lead actors in it, but the first time I ever heard about it was when Movie Pass crashed because it was one of the handful of films that Movie Pass would allow its users to see. I didn't hear about it from a trailer or social media; I heard about it because it was on a list of movies that were small enough that Movie Pass knew they wouldn't be asked for tickets to it en masse when they couldn't afford to pay for people to see Mission Impossible. And I was never even a Movie Pass customer; I was just fascinated by their flawed business model and subsequent implosion. I looked up the movie because I was curious how small the movies were that users could see.

    I'm the biggest movie fan I know. I follow news about movies obsessively; I go to the theater at least once a week and sometimes more; I like all of the actors involved in that movie; and if it looks good, I'll go to almost anything other than horror movies. If the studio's actual marketing for Juliet, Naked didn't reach me, and I'm very plugged into this sort of thing, is it any wonder that it failed to connect with other people who pay less attention than I do? Meanwhile, in the auditorium across the hall is Crazy Rich Asians, which popped and became a really big zeitgeist movie. WB did a really good job marketing that and made it feel like an event. They also dated it really well at the end of summer so that it was the last big movie for a while, which allowed it to play and play and play. If you're someone who only goes to the movies a few times a year, it was obviously going to be the choice.

    Your point is well taken. However, to be completely fair, A Simple Favor did actually feature Henry Golding from Crazy Rich Asians as its male lead, and it arrived in theaters not too long after Asians did. But you're right that he was surrounded by Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick, who are both white, and the plot was an outlandish thriller that lacked the relatable elements of Crazy Rich Asians. I enjoyed A Simple Favor very much, but it's not surprising why Crazy Rich Asians popped more.

    I'm not so sure that the box office failure of something like Juliet, Naked will remain tied to it, because most people haven't heard of it in the first place. When I tell my friends about it, they don't check its box office; the first thing that usually comes up is the title, because I have to convince them I'm not recommending a porn movie. I think the cases where the designation of "flop" does follow a movie are when they are extremely high profile movies that don't do well, like, say, Dark Phoenix, because everyone knows what that movie is and that it was supposed to be a big movie and that most people actively decided not to see it. I see Juliet, Naked more as something that just fell under most people's radar, and I haven't found people penalizing it for that.

    You're also right that if Netflix had put it out, they would have promoted it on their service...for a while. But being on Netflix is both a blessing and a curse, because there is so much content there. You never hear about Beasts of No Nation or The Little Prince anymore, because those are Netflix films that came out a few years ago. They're still there if you want to look them up, but Netflix is now more interested in driving eyeballs to Always Be My Maybe because it's new. The physical media releases that Netflix won't do for their movies give a second life to those films. I went to Target to buy something else and saw Juliet, Naked there and bought it. I would have bought it anyway since I really liked the movie, but my point is that it was there on the shelf next to Mean Girls and some Marvel titles and other high-profile titles; people browsing the movies shelf would see it, whether it's something that they come looking for or not. When was the last time Netflix actually promoted something that wasn't new? So yeah, if Juliet Naked had been a Netflix release last year, it would have gotten promotion around the time that it dropped...and then it would have fallen out of favor once it got old and been buried in the mountain of Netflix content. With a Blu-ray, it's possible for it to reach a new audience in another place besides Netflix. So, there are certainly both advantages and disadvantages to being a Netflix title, and the filmmakers who consider selling their films to Netflix have to weigh the pros and cons of Netflix's approach.

    Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, Netflix wanted that movie; they offered a massive payout to acquire it and were willing to greenlight the entire trilogy (including movies based on the two sequel novels) immediately. The filmmakers declined and went with Warner Bros., who offered them less money, because it was important to them to take the gamble on a wide theatrical release so that they could hopefully prove that audiences would turn up to a diverse film. That obviously paid off, and Crazy Rich Asians made much more of an impact culturally by being a highly visible theatrical release that succeeded spectacularly than it would have done by being a Netflix film.

    I completely agree with this statement. Many friends of mine who aren't big movie buffs will turn out to see big event movies like the MCU and Star Wars, but they probably won't make time for Rocketman or All is True (which I saw with a very small audience a few weeks ago) or The Last Black Man in San Fransisco (which opens at my art house this weekend.) They just aren't going to the theater for that kind of movie. If Disney were to stop making movies, these friends would probably stay home and watch Netflix instead of seeing Endgame in the theater. They wouldn't replace Endgame with something else they have to leave home and pay separately for.

    On another note, I recently got into the HBO show Big Little Lies, so last night I bought the book which was the basis for its first season on Amazon. Check out the cover. "Now a major HBO limited series available for streaming on HBO Now." They're not pushing people to subscribe to the linear network -- the cover is actually promoting the idea of consuming the show on their standalone streaming app instead. I was kind of startled by that. Sign of the times. (Of course, I actually do watch the show on HBO Now -- it felt easier to add the app than to add the channel, as I'm planning to unsubscribe after the season's over -- but still, I was surprised to see the promotion for the show be phrased in this way.)

    Big Little Lies cover.
     
  15. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    I am sincerely amused by Paul Feig's comment: 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. Even when we’re doing an insert shot of writing on a computer screen, I’m like, “You’ve got to make that bigger, because when that’s on somebody’s phone, they’re not going to be able to read that.”

    What is anyone doing watching Lawrence of Arabia on an iPhone?!? Ditto for any large-gauge format screen spectacle. Heck, even the intimate drama deserves a larger canvas than that.

    What I personally find disheartening these days is contemporary film-makers pandering and making stylistic sacrifices to 'appeal' to that tween and twenty-something crowd who spend far too much time navel-gazing on their cells and not nearly enough time experiencing life all around them.

    Generation YouTube is not your focus or your peer group, fellas! They're not interested in sitting through a 2 hr. movie, just scanning for highlights and trailers and bored with both before your movie is even released theatrically.

    Whatever happened to movies made having to 'find' their audience and all the spoon-feeding be damned? Ugh! Another reason to lose interest in what Hollywood makes today. Do we need another reason?!?
     
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  16. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    Another laughable quote from this article: Kumail Nanjiani said: "I was at a bar with a friend who directs big movies, and while we were in line for the bathroom, he was saying that movie theaters were going to go away. He was like, “Kids don’t watch movies, they watch YouTube.” Which I thought was crazy. So he goes, “Watch this.” There was a girl in front of us in line, and he said, “Hey, excuse me, what’s your favorite movie?” And she said, “I don’t watch movies.” Just randomly, he picked someone — and she was like 25, she wasn’t a child or anything. We were like, “Well, do any of your friends watch movies?” And she said, “Not really.”

    My advice to Mr. Nanjiani - pick a different girl. Pick a different demographic. Not every 25 year-old is passionate about going to the movies. That was true in 1940 and it's true today. People having different interests. A public polling of one isn't definitive proof of what is essentially the same forced obsolescence that is afflicting the home video market these days. While it is truer today that you have to make a damn good movie to get noticed, there are plenty of movie fans out there in all age brackets waiting for the very best that you can give them.

    So, instead of saying, 'Hey - this girl represents the microcosm of why youth in totem doesn't go to the movies', why not try making movies that appeal to a wider demographic and range of tastes? You still won't win the girl in this scenario. Then again, she really was never - or ought never to have been - considered as your target audience.
     
  17. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    A terrible stance from Jason Blum: "What I find striking is how much they’re watching pieces of things: “I saw some of that movie.” They’re multitasking while they’re watching the things that we’re making. That’s not what we want, but by the same token, I don’t subscribe to the notion that you should mandate how young people watch what you’re doing. That’s an arrogant position. If they watch half of my horror movie, I’m glad they watched half as opposed to not watching any of it!"

    Here again, the people who do this are NOT your target audience. My own mother has never watched a movie all the way through without doing some household chore or multi-tasking in some other way. I think my father was successful at getting her to go to the show maybe twice in their early marriage. Then I came along and dragged him to every movie I could - which is to say, was not dragging him at all because he and I share this love of seeing movies on the big screen and re-seeing them on Blu-ray when they get reissued. We're movie lovers. Mom is not.

    So, the point about Mr. Blum's gratitude extending to those who watch 'half' or even one or two scenes from his movies would extend to mom listening to something he made as background fodder, even if she never once looked at the screen. Although he wouldn't prefer it, he still finds room to be grateful for these drifters into pop-u-tainment, as much as to have a thoroughly captive audience in a darkened theater, enthralled by what he's made?!? How sad. That's a terrible compliment, if indeed, a compliment it is.

    Dear Mr. Blum: you are making pictures to appeal to fans and, hopefully, to build upon your base of die-hards who actually are interested in what you have to say as a film-maker. You cannot convince someone who has no interest in movies to suddenly become impassioned - or even patient enough - to watch 'half' your flick any more than you can transform a zebra into an elephant. No amount of movie magic can do that!
     
  18. Nick*Z

    Nick*Z Supporting Actor

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    From Jeffrey Katzenberg: What Quibi [his upcoming streaming service for mobile] is trying to do is get to the next generation of film narrative. The first generation was movies, and they were principally two-hour stories that were designed to be watched in a single sitting in a movie theater. The next generation of film narrative was television, principally designed to be watched in one-hour chapters in front of a television set. I believe the third generation of film narrative will be a merging of those two ideas, which is to tell two-hour stories in chapters that are seven to ten minutes in length. We are actually doing long-form in bite-size.

    Oh, yuck. The day they actually start telling 2-hour stories in 7-10 minute intervals is the day the movies as an art form truly are dead. We've already been watching 7-10 minute intervals of a story. It's called 'commercial interrupted television broadcasting' and it's decidedly NOT the preferred mode of soaking up a good story. You can't immerse yourself in a make-believe world in 7-10 minutes; can't sink your teeth into good solid character development, and can't attain any sort of dramatic arc that will build upon the precepts of good solid story-telling.

    So, Quibi is to movies what Tweeting is to actually sitting down and reading a full-fledged novel - hell, even a short story. Can anyone here imagine F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby parceled off as a paragraph or two at a time with a 'stay tuned' until next week tack-on to keep the readership waiting? Long form in bite size, my fanny! This is short shrift, in short form and short-sighted as per the future of movies in totem. Badly done. Very badly done!!!
     
  19. Message #39 of 51 Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

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    F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mark Twain, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Stephen King all released novels as serials.

    Hell, serials at the movie theater used to be commonplace.

    I don't see why we can't give a new format a chance. If people don't like it they'll stop making them. If people like it we'll be glad they did it.
     
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  20. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    We can yell at the sky all we want, but none of these changes should be taking anyone by surprise at this point, and I think anger is an unproductive response.

    How many things in society stay unchanged for over a century?

    Movie theaters are becoming increasingly irrelevant to how a vast majority of viewers wish to see their entertainment. This isn’t because movie studios are evil or because younger people are stupid. It is because technological changes have affected how we can access our entertainment. An increasing number of people, across all age groups and demographics, are deciding that paying large sums of money to leave their home and view something on someone else’s schedule doesn’t make sense for their lifestyle when they can simply wait two or three months and see the exact same material at home, on their own schedule, virtually for free. And, in tandem with that, as the market for mid-budget films in theaters has shrunk, the same people who made those films are moving to television and streaming, where both filmmakers and audiences embrace longer form storytelling. In the eyes of a modern day audience, an arbitrary two hour limit for how long a self-contained story should take to tell, doesn’t make sense to them; modern audiences are embracing longer form storytelling with a richness of character and plot development that two hour films can only hint at. It seems new at first glance, but on further reflection, it strikes me as a return to the kind of serialized storytelling that was popular before film became the dominant medium for structured storytelling.

    The movie studios can either evolve with their audience and use the century of knowledge they have to create exciting, innovative work in both new and familiar forms. Or, they can pretend that it’s fifty years ago, not change a thing, whither and die, and have their libraries and legacies fall into disarray with no one left to care. Disney, so far, has taken the first path, and MGM has taken the second. Disney is thriving and MGM is essentially a holding company that will strip-mine it’s intellectual property until it drops dead.
     
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