The decline of Hollywood - You opinion please!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Shaughan, Sep 19, 2005.

  1. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    I am curious what this audience sees as the reason NOT to go to the theater. With box office returns off, Hollywood in a panic, is this just another instance of history repeating itself as it had done in the early 50s? When Hollywood’s response was to change the level of presentation (widescreen) as well as to produce significant epics that the public was able to respond to favorably?

    Do you think that the theaters re-vamping to serve alcoholic beverages will make any difference? Has home theater made watching films at home so much more desirable then going to the theater that the exhibitors will need to completely re-think the methods of presentation to pry the average consumer out of that Barco-lounger?

    What would it take to pry those consumers loose? With Disney’s recent accord with Christy to deploy digital projectors, one might be tempted to draw a parallel to the widescreen gimmick that Hollywood employed in the 50s, but there is a significant difference here. With the advent of Blu-Ray technology and
     
  2. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    If they don't know how to tell a normal sized story, how can they be expected to pull off an epic?
     
  3. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    I think there is more to it then scale. A bad story told in an epic scale is just that: A bad story.
     
  4. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Speak for yourself. [​IMG] I have a 106" FP system in my house, and that is plenty big enough for these films.

    I also think there is so much enthusiasm that you can put into a project that has long since run its course, and that you are now on the next one. I certainly understand it here in the software development biz, where you forget about half of what you've done on a previous project, because you haven't touched it in years. It is the reason why it is best to get the extras done during film production nowadays.

    Jason
     
  5. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    No more small screens or common-width screens.

    Theatres with 16 screens should actually be showing 16 different movies- no multiple prints of the same movie unless shows are actually selling out.

    Anyone in the theater business who does not care about giving their customers the best possible presentation must get out now!

    Either lose the advertising, or lower the prices.

    Patrons who are disruptive must be thrown out!
     
  6. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Well put Shaughan, and I agree alot with what you have stated.

    The main reasons, to me, are:

    1. Cost of going to theater don't justify the theater experiance. I agree, some movies are best seen on the large screen. The problem with this though, are people have gotten ignorant to other people. I haven't seen one movie in the theater in at least the last 5 years that didn't have a cell phone ring, someone kicking/ putting their feet on my seat, etc. For the price of 2 tickets (80% of ticket sales go to the film companies) and snacks (where most theaters actually make money, due to the studios dip on ticket sales.) I can buy a DVD. I'd rather sit around in my gonch at home, watching a DVD I own on my schedual than put up with arrogant strangers at double to triple the cost. This leads into point 2.

    2. The movies in general release are not as interesting.
    This is a completly subjective point, but in general, the marketing execs have completly gentrified the movie business. Every weekend, there has to be a new number one film making record numbers in order to make a profit, as films in general now cost way more to make than they did. As a result, the big studios are taking less chances, and they are making films with the intent to appeal to a large audience, hence, all the sequals and remakes that are plauging the cineplexes. This makes for uninteresting films, that I would rather buy pre-viewed for $6-$12 (I can generally flip used DVD's for $5-$14), than see in the theater. If I like a film, I'll keep it, if not, I'll flip it. If I see it in the theater and don't like it, I'm out $15-$20, depending on the snacks I buy. If I like it, I'm out $30-$50, as I will probably buy it on DVD if I like it.

    3. The general craft of the movies themselves has taken a pretty big dip too. None of the benefits of computers have really paid out, as the majority of CGI use looks faker than the pratical effects, and the price is pretty much just as high, yet all the big studio pictures rely on it as a savior to film. I'm yet to see a totally convincing CGI blood effect, and any monster/animal CGI effect usually has to much going on, making it look fake. Just because you have total control over a 3D model in a computer doesn't mean you should make it do dream movements. Make it move like a real creature on the set would.

    Older films (pre-80's) definately suffered from the above as well (general quality), but with the costs involved, studios were much more willing to take a chance on a "B" picture, with many of those turning into true genre classics. There aren't any "B" picures anymore. The direct to video market appears to be pretty near dead, Drive-Ins are pratically extinct, and art houses are pretty much playing foreign "A" pictures and documentaries.

    I didn't know DVD sales were declining. I don't think Hi-Def well have much impact, until one of the pending formats is officially dead. I think the reason that sales might be down, are probably the numbers. I know that when my collection hit 700 titles, I started to get a little scared with the number. I'm sure there are a ton of DVD buyers who hit that mark at 50-100 (the logic being, do you really need to own "everything", my answer, is yes, as half the films I didn't own on VHS are still impossible to find. so I'm buying them now while I have the cash.) also, people like me are pretty happy with a DVD image that looks like film, and are going to have a hard time upgrading many of the 700 plus titles they currently own, which isn't going to be good for the HD stuff that comes out, most of the initial release titles are pretty much the HTF greatest hits, that I'm sure most of us already own.
     
  7. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    I think the advertising MUST go. Absolutely. If you cannot survive as an exhibitor without this, then it's time to move on IMHO. I also agree with your other points here Jesse. I seriously doubt that a mug of Miller High Life is going to be the saving grace here.
     
  8. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    DVD sales are actually not in decline. They have plataued and sales are flat instead of insane growth that has been seen in the past. So we are at the top of the bell curve with this medium - Is the top of that curve flat or pointed? The next year will illustrate that but the studios are definately concerned that no growth is being seen in the medium.

    Your point that marketing is largely responsable for poor content is, IMO, spot on. It's the risk factor that is driving this. I truly think that HD is going to have an impact on lowering the cost of production as well. If you look at directors such as Robert Rodregez and Steven Soderbergh that have stated that they will never use film again after their experiences using both the Panavision/Sony Genesis camera and the Sony F900 because of the ease of post, the lack of all of the on-set limitations of film and the list goes on.

    Even the DP for JAG has used the prosumer Sony Z1U HDV camera on the show and managed to match the footage back to the 35mm prints used in regular production. I think that SERIOUS changes are afoot here.
     
  9. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    But, how many films are worth seeing on such screens? Sure, there is nothing like seeing a film at the Uptown here in DC, but how many are worth the effort of going all the way into DC to see them?

    Jason
     
  10. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    All films would be if there was some compelling reason for me to actually leave the comfort of my home and go to the theater because that experience was the cinematic nirvana that was a must have experience.

    In the current world, a film like Gladiator comes to mind - Or Sin City.
     
  11. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    I disagree about the types of film required to desire to see it on the big screen.


    Lost in Translation, open on a giant shot of a very pleasant view of Scarlett Johansson. That works for me on the big screen. [​IMG]

    But in seriousness I do mean that, there is something about the sheer scale and presentation style (when its done right) that makes a real theater better.

    To me the bigger issue is that theaters like this just don't exist most places. Instead you often get crappy presentations of not very good films, or you struggle with an uncomfortable experience in some arthouse that can't afford to be plush and cool like the Arclight or Chinese Theater.

    Now low budget films don't always work great on the big screen. There is something about video grade black and white that lends itself to TV anyway I think. But even still a film like Blair Witch is greatly enhanced simply by seeing it with an enthusiastic large crowd.


    The key to a good cinema experience is 3 fold -
    1) Good film - ie, interesting, entertaining, or the kind of film that draws you in even if its not "big" in spectacle terms

    2) Good presentation - big screen, nice seating, lights go out correctly, good popcorn helps

    3) Good crowd - not just 4 other people, not cell phone users, not kids that don't really care about the film...there was something about having to wait for a film that added to crowds back in the day. If you were waiting with a bunch of people to see a film there was a good chance that if the film was at least decent that the crowd would be into it


    An the optional 4th is that you shouldn't have to drive more than 20-25 minutes to get to such a situation.

    To me there is a bit of a cycle going on here - treat the product like shit, then the figure that shit is all that is required by the theater, which reinforces the idea that they just show shit, and so on.

    Its like the idea that you can improve your self-image by first improving your dress, style, outward image. If they would treat films like a special deal then maybe they would regain that image in the public's view, which in turn would spark that viewpoint with producers who would take more pride in their work, which would make better product, which would fit the "special event" attitude of the theaters, and so on.

    When they went multi-plex, and then 9 month VHS rental windows, and then 6 month DVD windows, they turned up the intensity on the "its just product" view and downplayed the "going to a film is an event" view.

    One theater can't change it by themselves, and it won't happen in just a few months. It will take 5-10 years to reverse the current attitude toward films IMO.
     
  12. Shaughan

    Shaughan Stunt Coordinator

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    I know that Soderbergh has negotiated a deal for his next five films that the DVD is to be released day and date of the theatrical release. Should be interesting to see if anyone bothers to go to the theater. Or even buys the DVD for that matter...
     
  13. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    There are lots of small things wrong with the movies we've had inflicted upon us over the last ~10ish years. There have been very excellent films, both quiet and spectactular, and all types in between, in that period; but despite this clearly there are a few things to be addressed.

    1) Story Sells. It just can't be said any simpler than that. I love CGI, I love action, I love effects and whizbang, I like epic locations, excellent actors, celebrity cameos, heartrending moments of humanity, and the chance to peer into the fantactic .... but at the bottom of it all I really just want a good story.

    A good story is about characters who are believable, about interactions, intentions, backgrounds, motivations, demons, phobias, and loves the characters have within themselves and each other. I'm a Star Wars freak, I love epic dramas and sappy love stories. But my favorite movie of all time remains Toy Story for one simple reason; Woody and Buzz are great characters, whom I believe in and attach to very deeply when they interact on screen.

    2) Vapid Marketing calling the shots. You hired a writer, let them write. You hired a director, let them direct. Studios are effectively "the money", to turn the phrase Shakespeare in Love used. And as Ben Affleck's character said in that scene, "Very well, you may stay. But be quiet." (paraphrasing).

    Pick a director, give him or her a script, and stand the hell back out of the way. Don't send notes, don't offer advice, and don't try to adjust. Leave it alone. If you don't like their movie, either fire them or don't hire them anymore. If you're feeling particularly 'right' and vindictive, execute the oft leveled threat of "you'll never work in this business again!" ... but for God's sake; let creative people be creative.

    3) Theaters need to get control of their theaters. The single most common complaint about the movie business is the singularly bad experience people have going to the movies ... because of other people. Folks are pretty damn rude and unaware of their own rude behavior, and unfortunately it's not rude people but (mostly) innocent theater operators who're taking it on the back of the neck for it.

    Each theater can afford to hire *one* guy (almost certainly has to be a guy for all the same reasons bouncers need to be guys) for every 6-8 screens whose job it is to simply walk from theater to theater on a steady circut to ensure quiet and orderly behavior from the audience. Yes, it's sad things have come to the need for hall monitors taking names (or in this case, tossing people), but theaters want their non-teen customers back, this is basically what it'll take to restore faith (and order).

    4) Put the magic back in the presentation. Best movie experience I've had technically was seeing Batman Begins on IMAX; that was quality. I considered it worth the extra 3.50 just for a sound system that was perfectly tuned and balanced, and a clean and maintained screen and print. That's sad, that I have to pay extra to receive those things. They should be normal. Going to a theater that hasn't maintained their sound or screen is pretty useless; those are the REASON you go to the theater. Not cleaning the theater, not cleaning the bathrooms, not having Coke or Pepsi, hell even not having Air Conditioning ... those are possibly (arguable) extras to the experience. The sight and sound ARE the experience ... if they're bad, what's the point?

    There are a lot of movie lovers, so just treat us right.
     
  14. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    Looks like I have to put in my €0.02! [​IMG]

    I think the problems with moviegoing nowdays can be listed in these factors:

    1. The cost of going to the movies is getting exorbitantly silly. When you have US$6.00 matinee and US$12.00 evening ticket costs per person and exorbitant concession prices, small wonder why people are going to the theaters less--especially now in the era of above-US$2.50 per gallon gasoline prices.

    2. The actual moviegoing experience is getting worse and worse. When you have rude moviegoers, unclean theaters, poor sound and picture quality, shockingly small screens at multiplexes and just too many previews and advertisements before the actual feature film, small wonder why people avoid theaters.

    3. The cost of home theater hardware has rapidly fallen. Home theater surround systems have rapidly dropped in price, and the arrival this Fall of 1920x1080 resolution progressive-scan DLP, LCD and HD-ILA rear-projection TV's will do much to reduce watching movies in theaters, especially once HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players roll out in 2006 (all the new 1080p RPTV's sport HDMI connections, the one recommended by the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray developers). With a decent home theater setup, you get reasonably sharp and bright picture quality and reasonably clear surround sound; the only thing missing is the true big screen experience but that could be fixed with a good-quality DLP or LCD front projector unit. [​IMG]

    4. Just too many poor-quality movies out there. People want movies with GOOD storytelling, and that explains why both Wedding Crashers and 40-Year Old Virgin have made money despite the raunchy subject matter. We're all rapidly tiring of the mindless special-effects spectaculars, that's to be sure.

    5. POLITICAL COMMENT REMOVED BY ADMINISTRATOR.
     
  15. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I agree with everyone's points except for Ray's absurdly paranoid fifth entry. Please tell me that you're joking.[​IMG]

    That's equivalent to me accusing the faltering economy or the price of ice cream.

    RESPONSE MOVED BY ADMINISTRATOR.
     
  16. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    Hmmm...lockage imminent? [​IMG] I'll just say that I think Ray's point #5 doesn't make a whole lot of sense. F-9/11 is, of course, the highest grossing documentary ever made, so obviously there wasn't much in the way of backlash that was felt in the grosses of that movie itself (plenty of criticism, sure, but that's different). To claim that people didn't go to see Cinderella Man, The Island, etc. (just to name some recent box office disappointments off the top of my head) because they were mad at Michael Moore and other Hollywood political opinion-throwers...well, I don't know, that seems pretty tenuous to me.
     
  17. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    If they start selling alcohol I won't go to tyhe theater to watch my own biography. The other customers are obnoxious enough already.....

    How I would save the Theater:

    1. Charge $12/ticket
    2. Leather recliners
    3. Cellphone/pager blocker
    4. Clean the theater already
    5. Enforce the age ratings
    6. less ice, more soda
    7. favored popcorn
    8. Calibrate the projector
    9. DTS surround sound, some of us still have to suffer with stereo!

    How to save Hollywood:

    1. Actors/actress salary not to exceed $1,000,000/feature
    2. more sex, less violence
    3. If you can't make a movie for $20,000,000 don't make a movie at all
    4. Can only remake a movie if its over 25 years old
    5. limit 2 sequels per film
    6. The western, what happened?
    7. Please limit CGI to correcting background color and such, characters don't work.
     
  18. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    I wouldn't say that CGI characters don't work as a rule, Gollum being the most obvious case of a totally successful one. My own so-middle-of-the-road-it-might-just-be-controversial take on CGI is that it's just another element of filmmaking that's around these days, just like (for instance) set design has been around since the beginning of film, and that like any other tool of the craft, CGI can be used well or used poorly, depending entirely on the circumstances.
     
  19. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Any further political remarks will result in this thread's closure.
     
  20. Mikah Cerucco

    Mikah Cerucco Cinematographer

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    Never understood why whole threads get closed because of the remarks of one person (which can easily be deleted). Ah well.

    I hardly ever go to the theater anymore. Frankly, it's just too expensive a way to see something. For one person, I end up spending $20 to see a movie -- at matinee. I can buy it on DVD for less. At current prices, I only go see things like Terminator 3, Star Wars Ep3, I Robot, etc. -- big special effects movies that greatly benefit from the theatrical presentation.

    - I liked Gollum, but I won't go so far as to say it couldn't have been accomplished without CGI. The actor who pulled it off would have received some well deserved credit.

    - I've often mulled about decreasing the cost of actors, but you can't flat out do that for the same reason you can't do it to athletes. The actors simply say that if a $20MM movie makes $100MM based on their performance (and name), why shouldn't they get a proper percentage of that? What I'd really like to see are small guarantees and then points. If the movie does well, you get more money. Period.

    I'm not in the 18-34 demographic, though, so I'm not sure anybody cares what would bring me back to the theater. There's no explaining it, but for $10 (ticket+food), I'd go see a lot more movies. At $20, I'm just not moved.

    There's something poetic about seeing a thread wondering about the state of Hollywood and the very next thread below it (at the time of my viewing) discuses Rocky VI.
     

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