Apocalypse Hollywood June 19, 2013
Recently at an event at USC, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas spoke about the coming implosion of Hollywood seemingly based on the fact that they had issues getting “Lincoln” and “Red Tails” made.
“We’re talking Lincoln and Red Tails — we barely got them into theaters. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movie into a theater.”- George Lucas.
Now, the fact that Lucas and Spielberg had a hard time getting a movie made isn’t necessarily a sign of the Hollywood Apocalypse. These are hugely successful filmmakers who aren’t used to being told “No. You can’t do that”; as is evidenced by the Star Wars Prequels and Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.
The real issue here is that it’s getting harder and harder to get a movie made that isn’t a “Franchise”. At this point, the Hollywood business only cares about comic book movies and foreign audiences. Lynda Obst, author of “Sleepless In Hollywood”, says “The business of studios now is to build properties into franchises…That’s why they don’t want to do romantic comedies any more. They’re one-offs. There’s a cap on how much money you can make. What are you going to do after happily ever after? The divorce? The affair?”
But it turns out the real culprit in all of this is not a studio hell bent on placating to teenagers or that Hollywood has run out of ideas, but the advent of streaming video and the decline of DVD sales.
According to Obst, “The historical studio business, if you put all the studios together, runs at about a ten percent profit margin. For every billion dollars in revenue, they make a hundred million dollars in profits. That’s the business, right? . . . The DVD business represented fifty percent of their profits. Fifty percent. The decline of that business means their entire profit could come down between forty and fifty percent for new movies.”
Essentially, the studios can’t gamble on new ideas or non-franchise movies because they are literally frozen in fear from the unknown. Studios run a Profit & Loss statement on potential films and they can’t do that anymore because part of that equation is factoring in DVD sales, but they don’t have that number anymore.
The effect of this, I believe, can even be felt locally here in San Diego. Hollywood is taking less chances which also means they aren’t willing to spread out of their backyard and San Diego is feeling that hit. Sure, we got Anchorman 2 for a day but where are the long term productions? What happened to Stu Segall Productions? With Hollywood being less adventurous not only in terms of content but also in physical Production, San Diego is getting less work and Stu has packed it in.
Stu has found a safer business model: The Business of War. And, business is booming (pun not intended but totally intended). As Production work became fewer and farther between, Stu saw an opportunity to put his 80’s Action Producer self to work and is doing quite well for himself and keeping his Production circle gainfully employed.
Don’t hate the player. Hate the Game.
PS – Grown Ups 2? Does any one else think that Adam Sandler has befriended a Saudi Diamond Prince and that’s how he gets movies into production now?0