5 PREDICTIONS WE TOLD YOU WOULD COME TRUE...
As was documented in both our podcast, entitled Crypticast Series One: Hollywood in Post (https://www.crypticpictures.com/crypticast ) and our previous blog entries found here at the Walla Group, 2017 was a year full of industry revelations, realization and revolution.
Below are just a few of the predictions we made about the film industry that are now being recognized by the national media.
1.) THE ERA OF THE AUTER IS DEAD…
In a very early episode of Crypticast we discussed the shocking new trend of what we call the the Hollywood Franchise Syndrome. Hollywood seems to be in cyclical habit of making sequels and then hiring no name directors to helm these major motion pictures. From the revived Jurassic Park Series to the Star Wars saga, the formula keeps repeating itself. But of more interest to us was why this trend had developed. We hypothesized that Hollywood must be seeking pawns… dutiful worker bees or minions if you will, prepared to do the bidding of the hierarchal leadership of the major studio system (be that Universal or Disney or whoever). Far be it for Kathleen Kennedy to relinquish control of the prized Star Wars Universe. Nobody in Hollywood wants to give up control. They are too afraid they'll be
found dispensable if they are not wrapped up in the thick of it.
Then suddenly we began seeing the firing of these franchise directors, from Colin Trevorrow to Phil Lord and Chris Miller. This only confirmed that our summation was true. "Creative differences" may be the spin provided to the media, but the era of the auteur was
dying before our very eyes.
What has recently solidified our hypothesis came from the mouth of auteur Ridley Scott. In a recent interview with Variety magazine wherein Mr. Scott was asked if he had ever been approached to direct a Star Wars movie, he stated, " I think they like to be in control, and I like to be in control myself. When you get a guy who’s done a low-budget movie and you suddenly give him $180 million, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s f—in’ stupid.” (Variety, 2017)
2.) THE MULTIPLEX IS DEAD…
In a special bonus episode of CryptiCast we chatted with a member of the Sony Pictures family about the future of cinema, in particular the manner in which modern audiences are choosing to source their entertainment. Although we all agreed that movie theaters are not "officially dead", the trend away from the communal theatrical experience is bubbling and the demise of the theater chains as we now know them is nearing. It won’t be long before all attempts to combat the trend will eventually evolve into something new. Luxury style stadium seating, 3D technology, IMAX size screens, food and alcohol service… these offerings are assisting in this theatrical revolution. The future of the multiplex will center on an elitist setting, where only the rich will be able to afford attending. The movie theater experience will eventually be no different then attending, say, an opera. You'll blow $70 for a "special screening" and be able to relish in the acclaim that you were "there", while everyone else streams their content in the comfort of their own homes for a less than a fraction of the cost. This dichotomy once existed in the movie palaces of the golden age of Hollywood
and the invention is rearing it's ugly head yet again.
Soon enough, in our lifetime we propose, cinema screenings will evolve into promotional four walled events. Cast and crew members will be seen live on screen Skyping in their answers to Tweeted questions from a world wide audience. Special merchandising options, not found online (except in the resale universe of Ebay) will available for those in attendance.
These types of events will be worthy of Ticketmaster involvement.
To push our point, I suggest you attempt a simple Google search of "US Box Office numbers" and you'll discover a host of articles speaking of the dismal turn out at the multiplexes over the last twenty some years. Opening weekends to major tent pole films aside (and I consider those "events"), people are opting out of the theatrical experience. The mulitplex is dead…
it just doesn't realize it yet.
As George Lucas corroborated nearly five years ago in a Hollywood Reporter article… "massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher." (Hollywood Reporter, 2013). It's only a matter of time folks.
3.) FILM CRITICISM IS DEAD…
We only have the internet to thank for this one. With the dawn of #avoiceforeveryone and the birth of revolutions, thanks to social media platforms, everyone's opinion matters in the future… or at least everyone can share their opinion,
for better or for worse.
The issue that this presents when it comes to works of artistic achievement is that not everyone is a trained art critic. And when it comes to film, not everyone has read Ann Hornaday's "Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies". Miss Hornaday started out as journalist, not a film critic. It has taken her nearly 30 years in the business to perfect the proper dissection of a film's structure in order to reveal its true contribution to the art form. But that means nothing anymore in the world of alternative facts, Yelp reviews and
free press websites such as medium.com.
To push my point, I was once reviewing a restaurant on Yelp and read a review of a customer that hadn't even eaten at the restaurant. Victor A wrote, "We have not stayed or eaten here yet, but as the saying goes, you never get a second chance at a first impression." WTF! And how might this review affect the overall all star rating for the establishment? It's
the interwebs wild west out there I tell you!
More to my point, Martin Scorsese recently chimed in during a recent Hollywood Reporter interview; “I will say that in the past, when some critics had problems with one of my pictures, they would generally respond in a thoughtful manner, with actual positions that they felt obliged to argue. Over the past 20 years or so, many things have changed in cinema. I'm talking about … online "aggregators" like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism. They rate a picture the way you'd rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat's guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer."
4.) HOLLYWOOD IS DEAD…
As we have mentioned in both our podcast and previous blog entries, Hollywood is stuck in an endless rotation of sequalitis and "pre-awareness" product overload. It's not that sequels haven't been a staple of Hollywood in the past, it that now it is the primary business model. What results is an inching forward instead of an innovative acceleration within the art and craft of cinema. Yes, leaps are being made in the technological realm. And these advances are a benefit to all filmmakers. But what of innovation in the way we tell stories or the manner in which films help audiences connect to their larger world or the remote possibility that something new could emerge? These pursuits are dead. The craft is a lost art within the studio system. At this point, we are merely re-treading the zietgeists of earlier generations.
A recent conversation I had with a member of the "Y" generation had me getting an earful about how the "X" generation should keep out of the cinema conversation. (We were discussing the touchy topic of "The Last Jedi" - in particular the awkward lightsaber between the Praetorian Guards versus Kylo Ren and Rey). The "Y" generation is apparently tried of us bad mouthing our "corrupted nostalgia". But in this exchange, all I could hear was the voice of an escapist generation content to exist, but not necessarily excel. I was told by this Y genner, "I just want something for myself. Just let us have our moment." I wanted to respond… then how about you begin the life long hardship of creating your own universe
and stop interloping in mine.
It's not that the Marvel, DC or Star Wars universes are producing bad films. No, in fact the films are of such high production value and collaborative presence that they are the pinnacle of what all films should emulate. The issue lies in the fact that none of these films (save perhaps Batman Begins) will ever make it to the National Film Registry. The only film in the last 10 years that is even remotely worthy for it's ingenuity would be Mad Max: Fury Road. What this suggests is that the voice of a generation is being lost because they aren't contributing anything new to the conversation. Years from now, we won’t be discussing the past ten years of Hollywood exploitation film… because none of this rehash will have survived.
So where will these new voices stem from? Certainly not Hollywood. Hollywood, I am sad to admit, is dead. It will be outsiders that will spawn the next generation of filmmakers. They'll come from Netflix, Youtube, Hulu and any number of other mediums that are willing to take chances and for that very reason will thrive in the evolving market. But the Hollywood I once knew is gone. And although I am not quite ready to let it go just yet, I do know when the time comes it will be a good thing. As Marty asked Doc Brown, "Hey, Doc! Where ya going now? Back to the future?"… "Nope. Already been there." (BTTF III, 1990)
5.) INDIE FILM IS ALIVE!
Which brings us to the most uplifting portion of this article; what a great time it is to be joining the ranks of the indie film industry. Out with the old and in with the new.
The last time the industry suffered such upheaval was in the late seventies when the major studios were being sold off to soda companies or tech giants who had no idea how films were crafted or what audiences really wanted. Within that chaos we saw the birth of a generation of storytellers (Lucas, Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, etc) that changed the way
we see our entertainment and ourselves.
Eventually, however, these brand name companies tamed the industry and began altering the language by which it is discussed. We no longer converse about whether a film is a quality product anymore, do we? The industry instead has us center on the three jewels of the investment dollar: marketing (sell them what they think they want), Box Office Return (who has had the biggest opening), and market place dominance (think conglomerates
such as Disney).
Now is the time for new voices to be birthed and styles to be created as alternative, digital platforms give birth to new trends. Netflix doesn't want you talking about how many hits any one of its shows or original films might have. In fact, they have shut that conversation down by refusing to share the streaming numbers. That's because they don’t want the conversation to follow typical Hollywood trends and be about how large the audience is. The Netflix marketing scheme is not of that class. The company is instead giving filmmakers the freedom to express their art to the tune of a seven billion dollar investment in programming in the coming year. They are seeking the next generation of storytellers that will help revolutionize the industry with vision, scope and ambition. The genesis of a new generation
is being born.
As Scorsese’s tendered about this revolution of filmmaking, "the future of movies… is in the freedom that technology has yielded for anyone to make a movie." For the first time ever we indie filmmakers, dare I say anyone with a camera, can tell their cinematic stories and with relative world wide reach, thanks to such platforms as Youtube.
What an exciting time in this regeneration of the industry. The sky is the limit! The revolution has begun! Take up arms and join the fight! #IndieTrenches unite!