Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hollywood Studios and Theaters Slowly Killing Themselves.

Roger Ebert bemoans (correctly IMHO) the dearth of originality and the slew of crappy sequels being flushed into theaters by the major studios. As Ebert points out, much of this is due to reign of marketing types who push brands for a quick buck. This is not unique to the movie industry, even academic departments and whole universities subscribe to the branding and marketing concept. While I agree with him that there is something special about the big screen, I don't think Ebert, with his critics' access to special screenings, has to put up with the modern movie going experience: high prices, lobbies with the atmosphere of a T station and rude moviegoers. As more patrons flee to the comfort and lower expense of their own homes, the studios are pushing faster releases to DVD and pay-TV and even more branded sequels marketed for a quick buck. It's a vicious circle.  At the same time originality, production values and talent is migrating to the cable channels. Think The Wire, Breaking Bad, Band of Brothers etc. These trends do not bode well for the big screen.

But I think the future is not much brighter for cable and satellite. Prices continue to rise as channel and overall quality content decrease.  Much of the best of both TV and movies is now available on-line.  Netflix streaming now leads internet traffic in this US.  Just this morning I saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on ESPN promoting a basketball documentary that will be premiering on Netflix.

Just goes to show that no matter how dominant and powerful an industry or institution is, change and failure to adapt can sow the seeds of its decline.

No comments: