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S&A 2013 Highlights: Dark Clouds Over Hollywood. Spielberg, Lucas Predict Industry Implosion (Thoughts)

S&A 2013 Highlights: Dark Clouds Over Hollywood. Spielberg, Lucas Predict Industry Implosion (Thoughts)

I’m sure, by now, most of you’ve have read/heard about the predictions for the Stateside movie industry made by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (that the business, as it is, will implode, in short), which seem to have shaken the internet at its core, given how much the original piece by The Hollywood Reporter has traveled since it was published last night (I shared it on the S&A Facebook and Twitter pages soon after, and it’s been shared several dozen times since them).

A common reaction to the words of these 2 industry titans was something like: “If they are having to fight to get their films from script to screen (Lincoln and Red Tails), and are as gloomy about the industry’s future as they appear to be, then what does that mean for the rest of us…?

The video footage of that conversation – a panel discussion at University of Southern California’s School for Cinematic Arts, where they are board members – was moderated by CNBC’s Julia Boorstin, and has now surfaced online, and is embedded below for you to watch.

In brief, both filmmakers see changes coming in the way movies are made, distributed and watched, as well as significant disruptions to the overall business itself, with Spielberg comparing what’s happening in the industry now, to what the economy was like in 2008 – hitting a bottom, poised to eventually start to rise up again.

I have no idea what the business of cinema is going to look like in 10, 15, 20 years. It’s really anyone’s guess.

What I will say is that, with the widening availability of broadband internet access all over the world, as speeds get even faster, and service cheaper, and TV screens become even better, much larger, but affordable, I expect more and more of us to avoid movie theaters altogether, and use of acronyms like VOD become even more prevalent, as the movie theater experience becomes a very expensive one (to make up for the drops in attendance), enjoyed by the those who can afford it.

Now, I’ve already shared my own preference on this web site (Sergio has as well); specifically, currently, I’d say that I do the bulk of my movie watching at home. It’s rare that I actually go to the theater to see a film these days, unless it’s a film that I absolutely must see on the big screen – yes, even press screenings, which are free for me. My time is even more precious to me than my money. So a free press screening doesn’t automatically entice me to attend (especially when I factor in travel time to and from the screening locations – usually in Manhattan, and I live somewhat deep in Brooklyn – and the film’s 2-hour running time), unless, again, it’s a movie that I really want to see. I could be doing something more important to me during those 4 hours.

There’s just what I feel is a lack of quality in the films that do get theatrical releases (those being predominantly Hollywood studio product – the remakes, sequels, prequels, comic book adaptations – and even the indies as well, and very few of what I’d call smart, adult movies). Also, there’s the fact that movies get to home video much faster these days than yesteryear, so unless it’s a movie that I absolutely must see in theaters, I’m willing to wait the 2 months or so, for it to get to video.

VOD is on the rise, with some films getting pre-theatrical VOD rentals, meaning they are available for you to watch, at home, before they actually get to theaters. Magnolia Pictures does this a lot.

There’s also the rising costs of movie ticket prices, especially here in New York City, where I live, as well as unruly theatergoers, something I touched on in a recent post.

Spielberg and Lucas mostly agree with me on all of that, saying that they expect consumers to watch more content, including movies and TV shows, on giant screens at home, as the separation between TV and film content disappears and theatrical releases are limited to fewer, big-budget films.

Times are a-changing, certainly; and movie theater owners aren’t gonna like this change, when it eventually does come to pass.

You’ll recall the 2010 proposal put forward by a few Hollywood studios, and least 1 cable TV operator, that would make movies available on TV, just 30 days after the films debuts in theaters, much sooner than the average! And how much were you expected to pay for this privilege? $20 to $30 per film!

They called it “home theater on demand.”

I don’t believe the idea ever went anywhere, although we could say that today’s VOD model as I described above, is essentially a product of that, as it continues to evolve.

For some consumers, especially families, it would be much more attractive to pay the $20 to $30, to see a film at home, before, or soon after its theatrical debut, rather than pay $14 for each person (here in NYC), plus the high theater costs of popcorn and sodas, to see the same movie in a theater during the first month of its release.

But no matter how much change is fought, change will come. Change is already here. Just look at how much the financing/production/distribution/exhibition landscape has changed since this site was launched just 4 years ago.

And then imagine how much different it’s likely going to look in another 4 years.

Exciting times ahead, and I just hope that I’m around to experience it all, and maybe even be a part of the change.

Watch the video below: 

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Audrey Lancaster

I agree with Speilburg and Lucas, and also the author of this article. I think most big-budget movies are crap, and cater to the non-thinking audiences that generally go to the movies. There are very few movies made for more discerning, more intelligent people these days, at least not in the way that they were done in the past. Hollywood has become a closed, elitist system catering to the no talent nothings that somehow managed to slip into it. It is disgusting, I think they should just close up shop and stop polluting the world with their overhyped garbage.. stupid people rule the earth.


It's time for both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to retire and make room for the New School.


Agreed, the availability of VOD/internet acces/streaming/ file sharing/lack of quality productions has arrested the industry. The studio-system is failing and Media production has reached it's zenith of appeal, I predict a destructive and threatening future for cinema.


It's a lit bit of what I've been saying the studio system is relic ready to fall. The future hold ownership for writers, directors, actors, and the crew. I believe films will be finance by private investors in the future and distributed online . Advances in technology will start viewing parties from friends and family that want to see a movie that just came out. The theaters will no longer be the only place to get the big screen experience.I think you will have different small businesses that will have the the tools to give people the big screen experience along with theaters. It will be like what you see from pay per view in boxing in which a fight is viewed according to the person experience they want to have. I think it will be great. People will have the option on how they want to watch a movie.


"when you experience a truly great film in such an arena (sitting in a dark crowded theater, filled with strangers, watching a movie on a gigantic screen) , it's probably the same as a heroine addict describing the first time they used dope"

Well, I don't know about all that. I've used heroin and I vividly remember my first time. And I have to tell you, it was nothing like my experience of sitting in a darkened theater for the first time.

However, I do understand the gist of that statement. The movie watching experience (in a theater) is a special and unique emotional ride which is enhanced by the company of others. It's much like going to the club or a jazz joint or even a restaurant, the total emotional experience rings the bell. We all can sit at home, shake our booties, eat a fine meal, get drunk and watch a movie. But there's something special about peeking at someone else's bootie while your shakin yours. And anyone can buy a gallon of "slap yo' momma", take it home and get pissy drunk. But there's something special about getting tipsy around others, losing all your inhibitions and throwing caution to the wind – in a public place.

Come to think of it, I don't care what Mr. Color Purple and Indiana Jones has to say about some alleged dark cloud brewing over me, I really don't. Are you kidding me, why should I? I've never been the one to follow popular opinions or bite off the lifestyles of others. Come on now, I bought my phone at the pawn shop for $19.99. I can call people and they can call me… lights out. But when I see people sitting on public transit smelling like yesterday's old news, waving their $600 i-phones in the air like they just don't care, somethings not right about that.

So just because everyone is doing "it" does not make it right. More importantly, Steven, George, Peter, Paul and Mary ain't running nothing up in this house, so they can miss me with their message. Consequently, if me and mine desire a night out of shaking our booties and tapping our toes and talking at the screen and smuggling our candy into a darkened theater while others do the same, that's just what we're gonna do. And I don't care who says "it's" about to implode, 'cause they and that has no affect on me.


QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY. I have yet to see the full video but I doubt that Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas discuss this vital element to the movie-going problem. Price is half the problem but quality is, in my opinion, the other half of it. And that's the part Hollywood adamantly refuses to address. Hollywood makes bad movies. Period. If they want us to leave the comfort of our homes to deal with people talking, using their cell phones and kicking the back of our seats, they need to stop delivering half-baked crap and start making quality films like they did from the late '60s through the mid-'80s. Lucas's Red Tails was not a quality film by any objective criteria. And I haven't enjoyed a Spielberg movie in decades due to his incessant pandering to the audience's emotions. The man who made Close Encounters, ET and Raiders has evolved into a maudlin mess. In regard to another commenter's observation about spending money on a Starbucks coffee and not a movie, the difference is that you know you're going to get something you enjoy. I can't tell you how often I've watched a current movie and been deeply disappointed. So much so that immediately after watching a recent POS movie, I pop in a tape or DVD from my collection of '70s movies (Godfather, Marathon Man, MASH, Goodbye Girl, Apocalypse Now, etc.) to remind myself what good filmmaking is. Give the audience quality and they will come.


The decline of the American film really can be
marked with the rise of the franchise slummers
—-Spielberg –Lucas and Cameron. We have,
essentially, been watching the same 4 or 5 movies
—the same predictive programming and debasement ops
——–for 4 decades now.

The 'Nixon–MAO' handover summit was in 1972
–the very year Hollywood lavishly resurrected the
—-log in decline Italian mafia theme, but minus the
morality. This was to engineer 'that's the way it is' apathy
as Globalists handed away your economy and debased
your culture.

Spielberg and Lucas worked another angle.

They signed on to pump Globalism and EUGENICS.
and to 'perception manage' the handover of the —entire—
American economy to RED CHINA.

LOOK at what's unfolding all aorund you, on every level.

We are being 'DISS—-Troyed'. Hollywood and media —were KEY.

Mekisha Hale

The movie industry is in a very stand still really. From reading the article something is going on with the industry that tried for some time to rely on pre-sequels and remakes that have been what thought is a saving mechanism that could have gone long enough to save the business from going under. Now those who were welling to throw anything to the method now finding that it's too costly to make that investment. Instead there is some knowledge behind some of those studios that they know where there getting the demand and places like Nexflix and VOD are getting the movies that are right at your fingertips,and the cost of go out to watch a movie at a theater is too much for just anyone. In the article it mentioned Magnolia Pictures that is already doing the Video on Demand with movies before there released in the theater. I think maybe the movie industry is ahead of the music business probably but it's close enough. The old model is now a distant memory it's time to make another which fits the times that are of changing.


As a playwright myself, I think it is very interesting that George Lucas predicts that the movie business will be akin to Broadway, in terms of the way movies will be monetized and financed. I know that in Broadway (aka Commercial theater) it is extremely difficult to get/afford/procure mainstage space for any work that is new and original. There are less than a handful per year (or two). The vast majority are revivals and adaptations from other media. The trend now are musicals (the amount of 'Straight Plays' on B'way has been miniscule for the last several years) that are based on comic book characters (Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark) or musicals adapted from hit movies (Legally Blonde) and even so called indie film (Once, Kinky Boots). Even with the overwhelming popularity of musicals, I realized that of the 2013 Tony Award nominated ones, not one of those nominations was for an originally written musical. If this is where Lucas sees the movie biz headed, then I don't know what to say about that, perhaps the movie biz revolution will indeed be televised.


You're doing a great disservice to yourself and to other filmmakers by not seeing movies in a theater. I try to see as many as I can, even with limited time. I hear people constantly complain about a $14 or $12 movie ticket but are happy to shell that out for Starbucks everyday. And it seems that the annual number of ticket sales is generally around the same since 1995
(You can check it at thenumbers website – under market)
The same doom was predicted when VHS came out, then DVD, then BluRay.
Supporting the filmmaking community means going out and seeing movies, whether you pay for them or are free.


I too ofter wonder what will the movie industry look like another 10-12 years from now. The cost of movie tickets is so high maybe because these celebrities demand more money?!?! Everything is changing around us, and I don't know if it's getting better or just about to give out of gas without a gas station in sight or what, but something feels off, or maybe it's just me.


I feel that the change has already begun but we won't feel it as much cause they do mostly huge budget films $150 Mil to $250 Mil they wouldn't know how to do a film for $1 Mil or $4 Mil this will affect them greatly since they live in that pristine high above the clouds Lilly white world of film production we on the other hand will continue to do what we muct to make films in the supreme lower budget realm. They will be hit hard cause what they don't want to state is that the lower they have to drop the budgets on their films the more they will fall into the even playing ground where we all state the script and story is king not the special effect!

Ben Je

I wonder what will happen to the indies….

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