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Will Independent Film Survive the Spielberg/Lucas Cinemapocalypse Prediction?

Spielberg and LucasBy now, most of you have heard about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas predicting the “implosion” of the major studios and theatrical releases of films. With the growing popularity of VOD and self-distribution, the two veteran filmmakers explained that the old model is slowly but surely falling apart at the same time that a new one is being built in its place. The question is — will independent film become a casualty to the change, or will it naturally fit into the framework of the new paradigm?

Spielberg and Lucas gave these dire predictions while speaking on a panel at the USC School of Cinematic Arts last week. According to them, major studios will decline and theatrical films will become a “niche market.” Spielberg said:

They’re  going for the gold, but that isn’t going to work forever. And as a result they’re getting narrower and narrower in their focus. People are going to get tired of it. They’re not going to know how to do anything else – There’s eventually going to be a big meltdown –There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen of these mega-budgeted movies go crashing into the ground and that’s going to change the paradigm again.

So, what does this mean? What will the new paradigm look like? That remains to be seen, but one important point to remember is that  moviegoers aren’t going to just disappear. Just because theater attendance is declining and major studios are predicted to do the same doesn’t mean that the desire to watch films is following suit. The audience will be looking elsewhere.

An article from Tribeca’s Future of Film says:

It’s not like the film industry’s viewership is just disappearing into the ether; at this moment we are seeing a bloom of video content on web outlets, with Netflix’s original programming perhaps being the harbinger of a totally new landscape of filmed entertainment. It goes without saying that never before has there been such a demand for filmed storytelling, nor have there been as many platforms and outlets through which to present it.

The ability of independent filmmakers to self-distribute through VODs and video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo instead of having to go through the theater circuit is only going to encourage independent production. The Future of Film article compares this new change to the music industry “collapse” — how P2P networks, iTunes, and Amazon allowed new musical talent to find their own audiences — smaller audiences maybe, but audiences nonetheless. Perhaps films will follow the same path since the distribution model is looking more similar every day.

Film Reel

And if Spielberg and Lucas are right in their appraisal of the future of the cinema, that means that the new norm will naturally become — independent. Without a major studio system for a film to be made outside of, all films will technically become independent films, and perhaps the next question to ask is, “What will independent film be after the Cinemapocalypse?”

I’m not entirely convinced that we’re about to experience the end of the wide theatrical release anyway. Spielberg and Lucas’ prediction isn’t new — many have said similar things before. After VHS won the home theater war against Beta, the late 80s and early 90s saw a great influx of consumers and audiences buying up VHS players and VHS movies instead of theater tickets. The same predictions about the death of the cinema were made back then as attendance dropped at first-run theaters as well as at Dollar Theaters.

Audiences enjoyed the brand new option of watching a film inside the comfort of their own home, but theaters fought back. They built stadium-seating, developed IMAX and 3D technology, upgraded visuals and sound, and provided more and more screens to give their straying audience a better variety of films.

Movie Theater

And theaters are still here some 20 or 30 years later. Perhaps the trick here is to not look at VODs and other new distribution platforms as disruptive technology, but as just another way to experience a product. Because honestly, there really isn’t a way to recreate the experience of watching a film in a theater. There isn’t a TV screen big enough, surround sound loud enough, or couch full of family and friends long enough to mimic that cinematic magic.

Having said that, that doesn’t mean that everything will stay the same at the multiplex. Lucas suggests that:

You’re going to end up with fewer theaters, bigger theaters with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today, or a football game. It’ll be an expensive thing –

Whether we experience exorbitant prices at theaters or not in the future, independent film is going to profit from the majors’ decline. It sounds morbid to say,  but I think it may be true. However, that doesn’t mean that indie film is going to cannibalize major pictures. Rather, their shares will be redistributed.

And as the foundation of traditional cinema shakes as its impending “doom” looms overhead, remember that few classic attributes of it actually disappear. The contours of the industry may be reshaped, but the material still remains. After over a hundred years we still have theaters. We still have movie stars. We still have independents. We even still have silent films.

The change is coming, but that means new opportunities for both majors and indies. The smartest thing to do is accept this and take advantage of it.

What do you think? Do you think Spielberg and Lucas are right in their predictions? What could this “implosion” mean for independent film?



We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • I think independant film might be the ONLY thing to survive in the coming economy.

    • I agree. I see a few fantastic filmmakers finally gaining the skills to tell incredible stories for next to nothing due to the incredible resources available today. Resources being DVD commentaries, books on about filmmaking for pennies, the incredible people at Criterion, inexpensive professional grade cameras, editing suites for next to nothing, color correction software, incredibly inexpensive hard drives, great sites like this… The list goes on and on. The only thing stopping us from making great films is us.

      If we put in the love and effort, the next five years could be the greatest in the history of film. People out there want to see good films. They keep going to the cinema hoping to see a great film but the bottom line has gotten in the way of studios once again to a sickening amount. This is just me but to hear someone say that Ironman 3 was the best film this year makes me want to vomit and but even more importantly it makes me want to respond with a film of my own, and guess what? I actually could if I wanted to. Money makes things easier but not necessarily better.

      • “… it makes me want to respond with a film of my own, and guess what? I actually could if I wanted to. ”

        Of course you could, but nobody would care. Maybe you would get 10.000 views on youtube or vimeo with your little art film (in 2 years), or if you take it to film festivals maybe 25.000 max people would see your movie along with 100 other movies of the same kind.

        55,000 movies are made every year, your movie is just another grain of sand on the beach. Some people will notice it but will walk on. And guess what, Iron Man 3 is a big fat diamond on this beach. After 5 weeks it broke the 1 billion mark and is therefore one of the most successful movies of all time. And to call such movies mere vfx porn would be like calling your independent film “intellectual fluff”.

        All those superficial self-proclaimed artist who expect that the studios open up their wallets and give them millions so that they can bring their neurotic pseudo-intellectual visions to the big screen where nobody wants to see them, really live in a parallel universe. Even Lucas who was told by the studios that his “Red Tails” screenplay was lousy and they would`t give him any money, because nobody would be interested in a story like that. He was not interested what the studios though and financed the movie with his own money and it became a lousy movie and flopped at the box office.

        • I have to respectfully disagree on a number of points.

          Who knows if anyone would care or not? Certainly not you, and that is not meant to offend you. Perhaps Fincher, or Nolan would know after hypothetically viewing it, perhaps not, but you do not have the crystal ball or the experience to make that call, and I think you would agree. If you are not Jeff O and are really Spike Jonze, now would be the time to out yourself.

          Yes, my hypothetical film would indeed be one of 55,000 a year, but what would make it stand out? What makes any film stand out? What will make Ryan’s Man Child stand out? His second film, and his third.

          As for VFX porn, re-watch the final sixty minutes of IM3 and tell me that it is even in the top thirty films of the year. It is blatantly obvious that Favreau’s dedication to the first two fueled the explosion of cash that is the third. If it’s a diamond on a beach, then it’s the zirconium kind.

          Personally, I agreed with the studios that Lucas’s Red Tails script didn’t work. Not all great artists can recreate the Mona Lisa over and over again. If A New Hope isn’t one of the greatest films of all time (remember he made it for somewhere between 5 and 13 million with no studio support) I’ll eat my hat.

          Once again, I reiterate that we have been made available all of the tools and resources we need to create incredible and successful works of art. It’s up to us now.

          • Jeremy Akatsa on 02.3.14 @ 3:27AM

            Jake I absolutely agree with your points but the fact right now remains coldly true. Superhero movies like Batman Vs. Superman, the new Spiderman, the Avengers 2 and many more upcoming films are getting nods simply because the audience wants them… In the end business is business art or not, the end game is to earn a profit and the market speaks for itself regardless if the stories are ‘sub-par’… Whatever the market wants the studios will chive for but this won’t always be the case because like every Hollywood Era that has come and gone, eventually this to will end… Thus film makers like you and I must keep on believing in our ideas and push them forward because we know that soon audiences will beg for us again.

    • i just meant i cant see their business model surviving anyway, until online content is monetized effectively.
      i would just keep everything off the internet at this stage. make low budget films, screen them locally with your friends and stand at the door collecting the $5 yourself. and then take it on tour.
      i like what kevin smith did with ‘red state’ where he toured around with the movie himself and gave q&a’s and made his money back like that.
      the whole industry is screwed at the moment. until the dust settles and people are made to pay for content again i’d just prefer to keep it small and local, take it on tour if you can, and keep the finished product off the internet.

      plus the big studios have no idea what is happening with cinema’s anymore. the pricing is out of control.
      for starters make the popcorn free, you idiots.
      its not fun when it cost that much to go to the movies.

  • Wish I didn’t have to go to work right this instant. I bet this thread will get good! Until tomorrow

  • It will, they won’t.

  • Well, with the price of an IMAX 3D screening, a 50 dollar movie ticket won’t be too far off. A good thing that a studio could do is that if you see the film in theaters, you can then pay a little by more to get a digital copy later on. A more of a bundle sale with the film.

  • Robert Hardy on 06.21.13 @ 12:11AM

    I’m glad that these behemoths are sweating in their boots as their empire of mediocrity crumbles. Also, I don’t think there’s any question as to whether or not independent film will survive. All indications point to the fact that it will not only survive, but that it will thrive in years to come.

    • Not Lucas nor Spielberg or Michael Bay are sweating a single drop, they`ve already milked the morons to collect billions of dollars off them…Lucas and Spielberg are slowing leaving the field anyway so it is easy for them to speak like this about the industry they shaped.

    • While me quitting on both Red Tails and Lincoln after watching less then 10 minutes of either one of them seemed unrelated events at first, those two living legend’s statements changed my perspective on that; and in fact I agree, if they keep making movies like that there’d rather be an implosion, and sooner rather then later!

    • I’m sorry, but anybody accusing Steven Spielberg of “mediocrity” needs to explain themselves and possibly re-educate themselves. The man may have, along with Lucas, spawned the summer blockbuster, but he has consistently produced THE VERY BEST of the variety. Resonant, affecting stories and characters, impeccable CGI, visually involving camera work, all threaded together with the sense of adventure that is woefully MIA in most of the modern summer fare which has followed in his wake. Adjusted for inflation, Spielberg, Lucas & Cameron are responsible for 10 of the top 20 films of all time – that’s asses in seats, not inflated grosses. That means they have a proven track record of creating films with incredible crossover appeal. And they certainly haven’t done it by catering to the lowest common denominator. I’m not sure what sort of films you would prefer to see, but don’t be a snob about it; give credit where credit is due.

      • Uh… Spielberg has also put his name on some real crap too. The biggest steamer was the Transformers franchise (even if it did make tons of money, which doesn’t say much for theater goer’s tastes either). Mr. Lucas took a dump on his very own franchise too. Mediocrity to the extreme. Pot meet kettle.

  • IShane Carruth’s Upstream Color for me is one of the best examples of how the new ways of distributions can help those who are artists in first place. By this I mean, those who have a vision and work to realize it, with no excuses like treating themselves and their artwork/artifacts as products. I bought it in the web, but it was also into theaters. Could be better, it could have incorporated the screening tatics from The Cosmonaut too, since here in south America hardly we gonna see Upstream Color in cinemas. I have a cool 1080p projector, so I could watch Upstream Color as it deserves –the closer I could get of how it should be watched – in a big screen, in the dark, with it’s sounds and music spreading in the room. The movie is singular, unique. A work of art. And as such it polarizes tastes.

    That’s the problem when there is too much money into the production of a (possible) work of art. It can’t polarize, because polarizing the public means making less money. But great work of art always polarize at first –with time it becomes a classic and no one say nothing against it, even not liking it, for the sake of being normal in the social body. :D :D

    Commercial cinema is entertainment in first place, because it, entertainment, is what people crave for, a form of catharsis from daily live. That’s ok. If we need to work for a living, we are slaves in some degree so we need something to relieve our minds. But the more the entertainment becomes flat, for all tastes, the less it will be appealing, singular, because to generate more money it can’t polarize.
    So in the end, the implosion of this industrial way of production may be a great thing for cinema as art. Maybe not for cinema as commerce.
    Again, Shane Carruth has shown us in the past that you don’t need tons of money to make an amazing sci-fi, probably one of the best sci-fi ever.

    If the big north-american studios implode, we may see less crazy visual effects, explosion, etc, because movies will probably cost less to be made, but that doesn’t mean we will have less action flicks (hong kong action movies from 70s to 90s are an example of how to make dynamic action flicks without too much money, and sometimes, without stuntmen too! :D)

    And in the end, stories are about people, ideas too, but people are what drive it. And it’s not needed huge budget and a major at your back to tell stories about people, even more today.

    As Brock said in a comment in another article some time ago, “cinema isn’t dying, it’s being freed”.

  • Will it happen, yes. It’s already started. Indy films are becoming more mainstream and Hollywood only produces big budget epics. These trends will continue. If the studios want to survive, they will learn to cut their costs. Because they are low cost already, new opportunities will be created for Independents.

    When it comes to theaters, with time, the expense of airing a movie will go down. Imagine 4k VOD subscriptions for movie theaters. Imagine a time when instead of publishing air times, the theaters publish a poll asking, “which of these independent films would you like to see tonight?” The respondent ticket buyers that purchase the most tickets will see that movie at that time. Talk about oppty for Indy films? We shouldn’t be afraid of the future, we should embrace it. With every new screen their is demand for video content. The longer the content, the bigger the screen. The smaller the viewing screen the shorter the content.

    Not only will the individual consumer win in this environment, so will the most creative and best promoted producers. This will be awesome for everyone except the status quo film unions, Hollywood studios, big budget stars & producers. Film production will even become less bound to geographic limits.

  • Ungoogleable on 06.21.13 @ 2:11AM

    Movies. Film. Cinema.

    Pictures. Photography. Pix.

    Images and the way we reflect our lives and existence into the medium is ever changing.

    What I am trying to express in this disjointed message here is everything is changing, and we should all embrace it. Whatever the change might be. In this forum of aspiring filmmakers, we all understand that things changed but we cannot necessarily find the right words to it.

    Not so long ago, we had people like Rodriguez desperately trying to make movies with whatever he could found. People have been working on stuff called film, and interlacing, at 480p and VHS and DVDs…

    This forum knows where we all come from. We are all old. We saw everything. From the VCR to VCR, to NLE, to the importing of tape, the P2 cards, the SXS… the derush… The inevitable dropped frame, the corrupted exports… We were all cavemen. And I am in my mid twenties…

    Final Cut Guys! Avid ! After Effect! Premiere CS2. You could play whatever format at whatever resolution on one timeline! It was a crazy time. You never had to sync sound anymore, and if you really had to, there was a tool called plural eyes which a couple years later and a dozen of clicks, this stuff could sync your audio and video, MULTICAM! Automatically!

    It was archaic.

    You needed to be some sort of technical maniac to make a movie. You had to mentally masturbate on what to shoot and how to shoot it and extract every bit of knowledge from your peers to get to where you wanted to be.

    Today, we have two masters in the industry, two guys that shaped the way we see and experience movies talking about the end of “their” times. They both were the industry. To a certain extent, they both shaped it to what it is today.

    I believe this is a really healthy dialogue on letting the next generation know where we came from.

    And we need to let go.

    If cinema is the reflection of the people, hollywood is a particular distortion (positive and negative) of it.
    If its going to implode, just let it be.

    Storytelling can take multiple form. If hollywood dies a miserable death, then it is only the reflection of their inability to evolve. I call this the Adam Sandler’s effect. Irrevocably, a group of people will abuse the system and you know what? It’s all right! It’s all good.

    However, story telling will always survive. Looking at the particular american case, we have

    The Sopranos.
    The Social Network.
    The Wire.
    House of Cards.

    From a technical standpoint to a narrative one, I have no doubt that the next generation of filmmakers will found ways to entertain us. To move us.

    What is happening is a blessing. It’s an opportunity for all of us to make our marks.

    I love our times. Everything is so easy.

  • I would love to see this implosion even though I`m sceptical if it`s gonna happen. But I love change!

  • They’re both egregiously wrong in the general sense. The pyramid will get wider at the base (more product … and lots and lots of unwatchable product, especially) with the cut-off sustainability point (i.e., people making a living off their craft) also dropping lower. The bottom of the pyramid will overwhelm with sheer numbers but the top will not be starving any time soon.

    The business will heal itself with new business/marketing models that will make any imaginable budget feasible. The real marketing muscle will switch to the Yahoo/AOL/Facebook/Google-YouTube/Twitter/LinkedIn and so forth where a visitor’s profile/browsing history will allow for a much more efficient sales process.

    Finally, Hollywood studios will band together to create a single portal for all the major studio releases that will become as traffic heavy as the sites mentioned above.

    • Who makes great art? The artist. Who tells their friends about that art? You. It doesn’t matter how big the pyramid gets, great art will always be found and disseminated by the curious searchers due to the technique and inventiveness of the artist. If fewer artists can survive on their craft then they are either ahead of their time or far behind it. Home theater will never replace the cinema no matter how quickly someone is able to download a film. What an empty experience compared to the cinema!

  • I think it is Spielberg’s career that is imploding, not the film business. Lincoln was a boring film, my wife fell asleep during it, the only reason i stayed awake was because i thought the cinematography was the best of the year. i couldnt even make it through red tails. both of those directors are out of it, they just dont make good movies anymore and their ideas are tired.

    as well, some of these upgraded dine in theaters are so amazing that we will almost go watch anything to sit in a huge recliner and get served real food and drinks too! I think the studios just have to learn not to give tired old directors an unlimited budget to make whatever they want while his little bubble keeps telling him how amazing everything is up until the point that it bombs at the box office.

  • I think what they’re saying is that the studio mentality right now is ass backwards and might kill the studio scene all together. Because of Avatar, studios think the only way to make huge profits is to make stupidly expensive 3D monstrosities. One or two flops on this route and you’re toast. Look at the Lone Range, Gore Verbinski thinks he can’t make a movie for less than 200 million. That’s retarded. If Disney didn’t have deep of pockets as they have, that sucker flopping would ruin them. Studios need to regress, force a cap on their budgets and make movie like District 9 and Elysium. They look lower budget compared to the big boys, but it forces the Directors to work harder on story. Elysium was made for 60 million, it looks it. But it’ll be successful and hopefully change the studio mentality. Because it’ll have to if they want to survive.

    • This is all a result of thinking that the Cinema scene is dying because of a saturation of easily accessible online content. People won’t pay the ticket prices for just anything, it has to be big and special to get people in the seats. I think “The Purge” showed otherwise. An interesting story will attract people. Just need to bring back the old school magic into the Theatre experience. I think scaling back is the key, for both the directors and the studios.

    • Elysiums budget was 100 million:

      Don’t forget:

      Avatar – has more CGI, is a longer movie, was shot in 3D, they had to develop the cameras…

      Spider-Man, Iron Man, Transformers – have a look at statistics on what the budget was spend, on Spider-Man you have 50 million for the right to use the material, also on Iron Man (because he is a marvel character).

    • I too didn’t have much faith in The Lone Ranger delivering after the first trailer but after watching the most recent trailer it looks legit. We’ll see though… Pacific Rim is the film I’ve been waiting to see. Del Toro truly seems to understand how to make the big screen feel even larger than it already is.

  • More jingoistic hipster wisdom. Indie film will be the same as it ever was… a slew of narcissistic projects shot on ‘cool’ cameras and very, very few works of craft.

    Every indie filmmaker generation proclaims a ‘big change’ unfortunately this one is powered by the entitled who believe talent resides in quoting tech specs and that curating others work for page views translates into being a ‘film director’.

    • “…a slew of narcissistic projects shot on ‘cool’ cameras and very, very few works of craft.”

      I take it you don’t like indie films? :)

    • I tend to agree with your larger point… the posturing about the “tortured” artist being the only one capable of producing any work of merit (when, in fact, it’s mostly boring & self-indulgent navel-gazing that wouldn’t draw a paying audience anyway). But I think you’re unfairly and unnecessarily implicating the entire website in your wider criticism. The site is informative, multi-faceted and fairly inclusive; what its readers do or don’t accomplish independent of the site is entirely up to them and certainly not a direct reflection on the site itself.

  • My fellow film brothers and sisters. I honestly believe that the implosion of the hollywood system is the best thing for independent film and their creators. Most people are freaking out about it, however, it only opens doors to opportunity and innovation on the part of independent cinema. Story and good content will always rule supreme!

  • As long as great story tellers exist, the studios aren’t going anywhere. They’ll just learn to stop meddling with scripts so much and films will be better because of it.

  • Yeah, it’s hard for to take this entirely seriously because evangelists always need an end times scenario to spread their gospel. As has been said before, Hollywood will be fine, I am more pessimistic about independent film that won’t be able to be supported be an avalanche of marketing and product endorsements because as soon as I get off this website the world at large is not terribly passionate about “personal films” or art films. Even Youtube’s biggest video producers are becoming disillusioned with their model. Their scenario is unlikely but of course possible, the studios have known for years the audience for theaters and home viewing have diverged and have responded accordingly. Even if they made more personal, character oriented features, how many would benefit from the big screen instead of a nice HDTV viewing in enough audience members minds to justify all the costs associated with going? People will always make movies and always make great movies because the desire to tell stories is too strong to let economics deter you, but I don’t see the average consumer leaving their wonderful scripted television shows which can often be much deeper than a single film to return to the megaplex in droves for dramas. Not trying to be a debbie downer but anytime someone says something bad about big industry there is a tendancy to believe it will automatically benefit the indie or “little guy” when that’s not a given.

    • What you’ll probably see is the stack of various entities and marketing programs. You might have companies like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon (come to think of it, Amazon is already doing it with their “public sitcoms”) who are willing to produce a Sundance/personal/art type movie for anything in the low/no budget range to a few hundred thousands. There might be a subscription based “art film” channel on YouTube a la the recent Roger Corman offering, whose management might either buy or produce these short films. Then there are the stand-alone options by the likes of Vimeo, where a film can be uploaded on a PPV basis, with the streamer taking in a share of the proceeds in exchange for marketing the content. Et cetera, et cetera. And that’s just online.

  • I can’t wait for vimeo music montages to take over Netflix. (I say this as a creator of vimeo music montages)

  • NoFilmSchool has about 20K unique visitors, according to Alexa and Compete. With its social media standings, It could conceivably parlay its success into a YouTube independent film channel. 20K subscribers at $2.99 each + ads and sponsor money would/should let it rotate about a dozen films with a ~ $4K per film per month fee.

  • Anthony Marino on 06.21.13 @ 9:27PM

    Maybe they know something we don’t

  • Lynda Obst wrote a fantastic article that’s pertinent… (Spoiler: It’s the DVDs.)

  • What Obst isn’t saying in that article (maybe it’s in her book) was that Hollywood own accounting practices took the industry from a legitimate net profit business to a gross revenue business for the top players. (good story behind that is in Julia Phillips’ “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again”) That also made it far more lucrative to make the ultra high budget movies with a lot of gross participants (even when they are various target points involved) rather than a smaller budget picture because net profits disappeared off the individual ledgers. In the old days, when the industry was semi-honest with its stars, a “net player” got paid and was thus interested in cost containment. Should studios again revert to that model, many of their problems will disappear but, at the moment, they have no one but themselves to blame.

  • Cable TV Channels seem to be the place to go for both Quality TVSeries and Quality Films. No Need to reinvent the wheel.

    • Speaking of TV – a high quality/”cinematic” hour long broadcast TV episode costs between $3M and $5M to produce (the last couple of seasons of “ER” ran double due to the high salaries paid to star actors but, by that point, the show was a huge money maker globally anyway). Hypothetically then, a feature film that is twice as long shouldn’t cost more than twice to produce either (+ the cost of sets, which aren’t reusable). But, whereas a TV production company has a very strong incentive to contain costs, film producers main objective is to max out the revenues. Thus you see budgets “Oblivious” to their $120M costs.

  • Living in Sydney, we pay as much for a movie ticket as we do for a new release DVD/Bluray. So to me, I really only hit the theatres for the big films. Cinema will not die, but it will be less worth it if for people to shell out high funds for. For a family of 4 to go to the movies is super expensive here.

    Digital downloads of movies will be the future for a majority of films. The question is, how to market the plethora of films that will be on tap?

  • I think maybe Speilberg and Lucas are talking about their own impending career-apocalypse…
    They are projecting their own insecurities onto everyone / the whole entire film industry, no less.
    Maybe they should stick to movies about crystal skulls.
    If the Coen brothers start making movies i hate… closely followed by bad, vapid, trite & ill-conceived films from the likes of David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jia Zhanke – then perhaps I’ll believe that the entire industry is going down the toilet, and not just steadily evolving, with a rock solid core of endless talent at its heart.
    Plus monetize content online, with rock solid security against piracy. for starters, please, Sirs’ Lucas & Speilberg.
    Steve Jobs was on the right track with Apple TV & the itunes store. Finish what he started, you rich bastards.


    • @sisay, have you ever worked on a Hollywood feature?? I’ve worked on many, and the costs are REAL!!

      Some of the expense comes from poor planning. Some from over-ambisous scrips/storys. Some from bad-luck.

  • “Because honestly, there really isn’t a way to recreate the experience of watching a film in a theater. There isn’t a TV screen big enough, surround sound loud enough, or couch full of family and friends long enough to mimic that cinematic magic.”

    Does that include the magic of rude patrons?

    A big problem is the “me” generation and their inflated sense of self-entitlement. They think nothing of talking during the movie, talking/texting on the phone, or bringing a crying baby or young children to a “R” movie.

    It’s not uncommon to go to the theatre on Friday or Saturday night and see several police officers on duty. It’s gotten that bad.

  • I agree with the fact that the cinema-experience you encounter when really ‘going’(!) to the movies isn’t comparable to watching a film at home. Although technically and cost-wise the equipment for turning your home into a (small) cinema is there, you just don’t get the kind of rest and ease to enjoy a proper movie when really going out for it.

  • I’m sorry, but anybody accusing Steven Spielberg of “mediocrity” needs to explain themselves and possibly re-educate themselves. The man may have, along with Lucas, spawned the summer blockbuster, but he has consistently produced THE VERY BEST of the variety. Resonant, affecting stories and characters, impeccable CGI, visually involving camera work, all threaded together with the sense of adventure that is woefully MIA in most of the modern summer fare which has followed in his wake. Adjusted for inflation, Spielberg, Lucas & Cameron are responsible for 10 of the top 20 films of all time – that’s asses in seats, not inflated grosses. That means they have a proven track record of creating films with incredible crossover appeal. And they certainly haven’t done it by catering to the lowest common denominator. I’m not sure what sort of films you would prefer to see, but don’t be a snob about it; give credit where credit is due.

  • First, you can on,y do so much with “the human condition” low concept film. At some point you will need a big studio budget. Great films like A.I, V for Vendetta, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump, Amadeus etc, all required budgets incapable of an indie. Sure, if you want to tell an artsy self comgratulatory story about drug addiction, you won’t really need a big budget, and that’s why indies have their place, but for every other story, you may require locations, talent, etc that indies cannot afford. With that said, film is doomed regardless of whether studios implode or not. Thanks largely to the Internet, society is becoming increasingly hive-mind, and more and more is the base common denominator becoming the prevalent voice and target demographic for everything. Politicians, music, tv shows, etc are increasingly pandering to the 98 IQ masses, and so we have the decline in general quality overall. Compare music from the late 1700′s to today’s music. Big studios, just like politicians, are finding out that for success, you need only pander to the low iq masses since they outnumber the high iq groups. So we will see more Michael Bay type films than Paul Thomas Anderson type films because studios are figuring out “hey, why make a good film, if a shitty film will make us more money?”.

  • Two problems. One is that what Speilberg & Lucas say is hardly gospel. Especially since only one can be considered a good filmmaker (while the other is a rich guys with a couple of great movies). But they are both really rich guys on the downside of their careers. Lucas has repeatedly demonstrated that he no longer lives in the real world.

    Second is, movie theatres will never go away. People LIKE going to movies. They just need marketing to. This flies in the face of the imploding Hollywood arguement. If you think people will give up going to the theatre just because they can get distribution to their house, you’re nuts. Guess what? It’s already that way, with torrenting.

    Btw, the Hollywood system is ALREADY completely independent. The studios make very little. They are mostly in distribution. This “great change” has already happened. What’s popular will change, but people will still go to the theatre.

    When you see studios trying different things for revenue, it isn’t because of the great independent tide. It’s because of a loss in revenue due to the dried up DVD market. Online streaming has crushed their guaranteed income.

  • I’m not sure I would necessarily classify George Lucas as just a rich guy with a couple of good movies:

    That being said, yes the system has been broken for a long time, a very long time actually. We’ve made great strides with technology and really democratized the medium now but in a way it has come too late. Unfortunately screenwriting and storytelling have deteriorated so much that no amount of technical wizardry can make up for it.

    If we look back on the days of film noir we see a tremendous amount of good writing, acting and cinematography all done on very low budgets even compared with the blockbuster pictures of the day. The story was the key to capturing the attention of audiences. Much of film noir would be considered indie territory today because of the minimalist approach applied to production.

    I get a kick every time I see a new movie come out that’s just a remake from something from the 60s or 70s or worse, from TV of that era. Don’t get me wrong, I really like a lot of film from that era but like all time periods, there was great, good, mediocre, bad and atrocious. A lot of the remakes focus on some of the mediocre to atrocious end of the scale and if they do attempt to remake something that was decent originally they muck that up too. If you don’t have a good story, nothing else matters and no amount of VFX or blood and bullets will save your picture. There’s nothing magical about that. More and more of my friends and family have just stopped going to the theater because of this. Kinda sad really.

  • The studios have continued to increase the price of tickets, but not improve the cinema experience with better stories (they’re now just throwing crap on the wall to see what sticks… Mr. Lucas and Mr. Spielberg included) or are slow to embrace new and superior technology (object oriented audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS MDA or higher resolution digital projection and giant, wall-to-wall scope screens like in the Golden Era of cinema) … or just bet on the wrong technology (3D).

    Because of this bumbling and stumbling, people have looked elsewhere and it seems to be into the arms of companies that promise convenience over quality. Youtube, Netflix, Amazon, Vudo, Apple, Hulu, Vudu, etc… all have highly compressed rubbish PQ and AQ only suited for the computer screen, touchpads, and Smart Phones.

    Those of us in the home theater business side see this as the same potential death knell to movie and TV content quality as iTunes and MP3′s were to music quality. We want to preserve and protect videophile and audiophile media designed to hold up on large projection screens (even giant screens for home based auditoriums) and beautiful sounding speaker systems, not portable gizmos (yes, we still like our stuff BIG). It’s like Jon Stewart’s joke at the Oscars a while back where he was looking at “Lawrence of Arabia” on a Smart phone and commenting they all looked like ants.

    Also, the ultra low budget film maker will continue to be lost in the wilderness as the studios, and their deep investor pockets, turn towards internet distribution. They follow the money and the money is disappearing from the theaters. So the same franchise garbage and high fees that killed them in the first place will now have a home on the web… you just won’t have the large Cinemascope screens to see them with in all their banal glory.

    • Pardon me, Dan, but perhaps you could name for us some Spielberg “crap” that’s been “thrown on the wall to see what sticks”? I haven’t even seen the last two films, War Horse, and Lincoln, but I highly doubt that either are crap. Spielberg is a master filmmaker.

  • When you cannot get a theatrical release for a movie unless it is based on an established comic book character then you are in big trouble – and we really are at that point. I think Spielberg is imagining the day when kids don’t wanted to see yet another Spiderman, Iron Man, X-man, Transformer, Superman – or any Marvel comic or well-known comic book rehash. It seems like the Hollywood studio heads are controlled by their accountants – and accountants are notorious for having NO IMAGINATION AT ALL. They have not noticed that the movie audience has already moved on – millions of Americans are watching Korean movies and K-dramas ( see DramaFever com if you want proof ) Why ? They want fresh storylines and a new point-of-view. Millions of US teenagers haved latched onto K-pop to get fresh music and appealing performers -they are sick to death of Beyonce and Rihanna singing songs based on a loop of 3 notes. Both Hollywood and the US music business are flogging a dead horse. I recently saw a meme on Pinterest that said : Kpop saved my boring life – or words to that effect. The big movies need to become far more creative if the theater chains are to survive as they are. As it is, no one cares a hoot whether your hero lives or dies. They have forgotten how to engage an audience’s emotions and move them to laughter or to tears. Everyone who isn’t a moron is bored to death. The writing is on the wall. It’s sad Hollywood studio staff can’t read it seems

  • Pierre Samuel Rioux on 06.27.13 @ 9:56PM

    They forget one thing to get a theatrical release you need to get access to it !
    The major ( the 5 of them ) taken the control of the screen by forcing the theater owner
    to go to the digital projection. ( strangely Banker do not like financing film projector )
    They figured out they save 1500 $ ( + or – ) per screen with Digital Cinema Projection vs 35mm film.
    So the idea ( taken the control with out buying any thing )
    We gonna to share the saving with the theater owner they said sothe Owner they get near 780$ ( + or – )per film the theater owner used this money to pay the projector near 89k to 120k
    To give some pressure they ad a deadline date after this date you have no more money attached to the deal.
    Oh Oh you need also to reserve your screen to the major ( Hollywood or you have no money a monetary penalty ).

    This is what happen in Canada ! maybe it is the same in USA
    So some big City give some grant to independent theater to get projector in DCP and stay a free enterprise how could show film there customer like to see.

    So this bring 2 bad thing first the hit on Kodak film and to get a theater release you need to used a distributor how get access to those screen with out penalty for the theater owner… those distributor pay less for the film you made.

    We need parallel movie theater dedicate to art and independent film Indy at a lower ticket price.

    • A “parallel movie theater” will probably need to come from an independent. It also doesn’t have to be that expensive – 2-4 short-throw projectors with the edge-blending software would only cost U$10-20K per screen room.

  • Avant-garde film makers and storytellers will invent new ways to entertain subsets of people, and investors and producers will look for ways to water down those ideas and re-sell them to larger audiences. There is a place for large studios, but it will not necessarily be in a leadership role: it will be to continue to buy and re-sell trendy artifacts for a profit. Oh wait, Pixar.

  • Hopefully I’m not repeating what anyone else has already said here. I think rather than the end of cinema and theaters, what we could get is a refreshed era in American cinema similar to what happened with the “New Hollywood” of the 1970s. The comic book era will end eventually as is being reported, and more interesting and original film making will have to replace it at the theater. It already exists, it’s just not topping the box office because the big studios are telling people it’s not what they want to see. If movies like Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Holy Motors, The Master, etc. had the advertising and release that Iron Man has or The Avengers, then more people would venture to see those films. Maybe we will have more producers like Annapurna pics who are trying to put a different cinema on the map.

  • I say so-so with very similar predicts, about 10 years ago..I may send my text about it (but in polish) published in net. regards:)