Is the Blockbuster Dying?
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas recently told an audience at USC that Hollywood was about to implode, with all the money hungry blockbusters that are released. Causing a collapse in the industry, pushing aside smaller films. Spielberg spoke of his latest film Lincoln (2012) that nearly became a HBO movie, not being able to find a distributor. Thankfully it did, earning itself two Oscars, notably one for Daniel Day Lewis. It seems very odd that for a director of Spielberg’s calibre to struggle to find distribution deals, after thirty years of success. Lucas adds that his own Red Tails (2012) struggled to get funding, which turned out to be box office and critical flop (there must be a reason why it nearly never got made).
They predicted a future with ticket prices a “in which the failure of half a dozen $250m movies in quick succession caused a seismic shift in studio dynamics, leading to audiences being asked to pay $25 (£15) a ticket for films such as Iron Man 3 but just $7 (£4.50) for movies such as Spielberg’s own Lincoln.” It’s ironic that the blockbusters they speak of, would never have existed if it wasn’t for Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) that caused Hollywood to reconsider how they made and sold movies to the public. No longer are we allowed the more thoughtful small movies of the early 70’s with the likes of Al Pacino or Jack Nicholson,with new directors with new visions coming through. Now it’s more about making the biggest return from the biggest spend. How far can you go?
Low budget films are indeed on the decline. Just looking at whats coming out in the next year, most of them are big blockbusters and sequels of previously released blockbusters. We are saturated with this films that can be loose on plot, big on action. I could go on and off point here forever a while.
The two directors commented on the struggling directors coming through now that the “many talented young directors were now considered “too fringey” for a cinematic release. “That’s the big danger, and there’s eventually going to be an implosion – or a big meltdown,” That maybe the case, we are becoming saturated with these films, which audience can lose interest in if we have seen enough of it. Over here in the UK things are far better, with independent cinemas showing smaller home-grown films such as Berberian Sound Studio and Sightseers which may not be the biggest films, but fresh, entertaining and different. Something that Hollywood can’t get their heads around. They’ll happily import and distribute them though.
They have a created a form of cinema that may possibly be biting them where it most hurts, in their creativity. More so Spielberg who has had continued success. Unlike his contemporary who after the Star Wars prequels has lost his appeal. Already he has been funding his films independently. But fails due to his own shortcoming as a director and writer. He has an incredible talent for story telling, if only he would take of the blinkers and share the work (rant over).
They way we consume film has changed dramatically over the past 5 years, being able to watch it on any number of devices at any-time, renting online. TV films are becoming more respected, in a medium that is forever overtaking Hollywood with its latest output. Will we be digesting our films on first release in a completely new way soon, such as the upcoming release of A Field in England (2013) that is having a multiple release in the cinema, on DVD and on TV all on 5th July. Much like Iron Sky (2012) which was released in cinemas and on DVD the following day. Partly due to costs, but also exploiting the avenues to access the film to a big enough audience.
The high ticket prices that are mentioned is nonsense, they wont reach such heights in reality. The audience just wont pay them, unless they really want to see the film. In a recession that is going on as long as it has, we can’t afford to pay £10-20, (my eyes bulge at the fee for buying 3D glasses). The preferential prices would work in favour of the lower budget, less desired films that would become the winners. It just won’t happen.
The future for cinema is ever-changing as we see from year to year as we see with is 3D film the latest gimmick to pass, to the sequels. What is happening for sure, is how we view a film that will always be around. The cinema itself will exist, probably in an independent capacity, luckily I know if two that are successes, showing old and new films, seasons of films and festivals, they have adapted to changing needs, having digital and 3D projection. We will always need an escape from reality to far off worlds, romances and mystery and everything in between. As far as Spielberg and Lucas go, Spielberg will always make big blockbusters, whilst Lucas will live off his past successes. Hollywood will re-think its strategy when something out of the blue comes along to shake up the world of cinema, from The Jazz Singer‘ (1927) that first synchronised sound, to Snow White and the Seven Drawfs (1937) that showed what was possible in a new medium. The epic romantic scale of Gone with the Wind (1939) to the fun and vast canvas of Star Wars. Tastes shift over time. Whilst the rest of the world is experimenting and being fresh, Hollywood is trying to adjust that’s all, whilst we are ahead of the game knowing what we like, they are just getting slow in the century of age.
- Steven Spielberg has predicted a Hollywood ‘implosion’ (contactmusic.com)
- The Laughable Hypocrisy of Spielberg and Lucas’ Diatribe Against Blockbusters (flavorwire.com)
- Spielberg, Lucas: Movie Industry in Big Trouble (newser.com)
- Lucas and Spielberg Predict The End of Cinema (goodmoviesbadmovies.com)
- Spielberg: What Happens When Several Megabudget Films Flop? (contactmusic.com)
- George Lucas Meets with Academy Film Students (academyart.edu)
- Steven Spielberg Warns of Movie Industry Meltdown (webpronews.com)
- Steven Spielberg: ‘Lincoln’ was ‘this close’ to premiering on HBO (insidemovies.ew.com)
- $150 movie ticket? George Lucas says it could be so (news.cnet.com)
- Billionaire Movie Mogul George Lucas Says: Movie Ticket Prices Can Reach $150 Bucks? (bonjupatten.wordpress.com)