Angry Robot

Are the movies really doomed?

I haven’t been following the film industry much, so this is a really interesting take. First, on what ails Hollywood currently:

The shift started, Obst explains, when the bottom fell out of the massively lucrative DVD market less than a decade ago. In order to make up for all that lost revenue, the industry turned to booming foreign audiences—particularly those in China and Russia, where screens have proliferated and restrictions on Hollywood imports have greatly eased. Not long ago, foreign box office accounted for about 20 percent of a film’s gross; now it accounts for about 80 percent. (According to Obst, China will surpass America as Hollywood’s No. 1 market by 2020.) It hardly needs be said that movies with cultural specificity don’t translate well to non-English speakers. Accordingly, it’s now all spectacle, all the time.

The article points out this is merely the culmination of a shift that began in the late 70s. Also, Hollywood’s export-based model is not working out well for exhibitors in the US, who have seen their numbers drop. So they have been financing films themselves, such as The Grey, End of Watch and Soderbergh’s Side Effects, which have all done well.

In short, what we’re witnessing right now isn’t the end of original, adult movies; it’s the end of Hollywood’s corrupting influence on original, adult movies.

While I think great independent movies will continue to get made for many years, I think the budgets will continue to drop. And I wouldn’t be very optimistic about the future of theatrical exhibition. It’s such a crummy, expensive experience now, and the experience at home has gotten so good, that I doubt it will be more than a niche activity in a few years.