In the years post-COVID, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to operate at peak performance. However, the inevitable economic downturn and the burden of streaming have forced studios to recalibrate.

We've entered a period people are calling "The Great Contraction," and it marks a shift in the way Hollywood will continue to do business.

Today, we're going to go over that contraction and talk about how it may affect your job.

Let's dive in.

The Great Contraction

Is Hollywood shrinking? We're about to have a period of less TV shows, less movies, and studios consolidating.

What is happening?

The rise of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ has changed how people watch movies and TV shows. People are subscribing to multiple services, but there's only so much content they can consume. This means less reliance on traditional cable and movie theaters, hurting revenue for Hollywood studios.

These studios have tried to get into the streaming game, but many have found it to be a money-suck that takes a long time to develop.

Plus, they have a lot of competition.

With so many streaming services, there's pressure to constantly produce new content. Studios were spending a lot on big-budget shows, but now investors are demanding profitability, leading to a shift away from "at any cost" content creation.

And the issues ripple through traditional formats as well.

The decline of traditional TV advertising and movie theater attendance is another blow.

Streaming services are trying to bring advertising to them, but they have to get over audience expectations of wanting commercial free things.

And finally, the COVID-19 pandemic also disrupted productions, caused theater closures, and shifted audience behavior. The industry is still feeling the aftereffects.

So what does this mean for you?

How Will The Great Contraction Affect Your Job?

Go Behind the Scenes of Some of 2020's Most Popular Movies

Behind the scenes of Birds of Prey

Warner Bros.

The Great Contraction's impact on Hollywood can be felt across various positions. We're even feeling it here.

I wanted to take a look at how things will trickle down across jobs in the industry.

Above-the-Line (Creative Positions):
  • Screenwriters & Directors: Fewer greenlit projects means less demand for their work. Established names will likely weather the storm better, but new talent may struggle to break in. There just will not be money to pay those at the bottom. So the best thing you can do is write specs that have high upside or make films places can acquire to bolster their lineups for less money.
  • Actors: Top stars with proven box office draw are relatively insulated. However, mid-tier actors might see fewer roles or smaller budgets. If you're trying to package a movie or a TV show, it may only be worth it to get hugely famous people, but if you have funding entact, consider getting great talent who maybe isn't famous yet but looking to work.
Below-the-Line (Production Crew):
  • Grips, Gaffer, Set Designers, Costumers: These crew members depend on productions being filmed. Fewer projects translate to less work and potentially longer stretches between gigs. Hopefully, work in commercials will be able to bolster incomes.
  • Studio Executives & Managers: While some may see increased pressure to deliver results, high-level positions might be relatively stable. However, there could be some consolidation or restructuring within studios. This means, execs should be looking for specs they can setup or make a name for themselves so they can rise quicker and avoid layoffs.
Other Industry Workers:
  • Agents: With fewer projects, there's less to represent and potentially less revenue for agents. Newer agents might struggle to build their client base.
  • Entertainment Lawyers: Deal flow might slow down as projects are scrutinized more heavily, impacting lawyers who specialize in entertainment deals.
  • Freelancers & Independent Contractors: Many behind-the-scenes roles are freelance or contract-based. The contraction could lead to fewer freelance opportunities and tighter competition for gigs.

How Long Will The Contraction Last?

What lenses and camera were used on 'The Last of Us'

Behind the scenes on The Last of Us

Cooke Optics

​The Great Contraction has an undeniable ripple effect on workers within the industry.

Across the board, job insecurity lingers as the industry seeks its footing in this new era. The Great Contraction acts as a catalyst, forcing those in Hollywood to adapt or potentially face being left behind as the industry focuses on profitability and a changing model for content creation and distribution.

Predicting how long the Great Contraction in Hollywood will last is impossible, because it's influenced by several ever-changing factors like how people consume content, the overall economic climate, and the unpredictable impact of emerging technologies.

My guess is that by 2025, the box office will normalize and production for features will expand. Hopefully, 2024 will contain all the consolidation, and 2025 can be the boom year where those companies look to spend and make things.

We need to focus on gradual growth and expansion.

This will bring more jobs and more opportunities.

The Hollywood landscape might look different in the years to come, but the passion for storytelling that fuels it will persist, driving the industry to find new ways to do business.

Let me know your predictions in the comments.