Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have predicted that Hollywood is about to implode -- that is, smaller movies will move to TV, and bigger ones will be a shitload more expensive to see in cinemas. But what do they know? It's not like they invented the Hollywood blockbus- oh. Well, it turns out they're totally wrong: The Hollywood implosion isn't in the future, because it's already happening.
#4. $50 Movie Tickets Already Exist (in Select Cities)
One of the things Spielberg specifically predicted was that movie theaters were going to start acting more like theater theaters -- as in there will be fewer of them, and movies will start to cost more while sticking around longer.
Pictured: The person sitting next to you at Iron Man 5.
Well, not one day after Spielberg opened his big mouth, Paramount announced that they would do exactly what he predicted -- only for twice the money. Starting with World War Z, moviegoers in select areas can now pay $50 for the new "Mega Ticket" ("Mega" in this case meaning "Really Expensive"). The ticket includes a future digital copy of the movie, custom 3D glasses, a movie poster, and a small popcorn (yes, a small one).
A single unpopped kernel in this thing costs you like a buck.
If this pays off, you can bet your ass more studios will start doing it. But that's for big budget movies. As for smaller ones, well ...
#3. Independent Films Are Already Leaving Theaters (for Streaming)
There used to be a time when a studio producer could get in his truck, drive through LA, and pick up a dozen eager indie filmmakers on the street like Mexican laborers. Take Kevin Smith -- the only reason he made it out of Jersey was because in the '90s Miramax was picking up every decent indie film they could find, including Smith's Clerks, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, and 100 more movies you love.
That coat was his entire salary for Clerks, and his house for a year.
Now Miramax is gone, but filmmakers like Smith don't need it anymore. Thanks to video-on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes, independent filmmakers don't need studios to get their movies out. In fact, VOD is actually giving the indie market buttloads more cash and attention than ever before. And while that's amazing news for the coke habits of the future Tarantinos out there, for Hollywood it's one more moneymaker lost.
Luckily, they have a terrible, terrible backup plan ...
#2. Hollywood Is Pandering (Badly) to Foreign Markets
As we've covered before, a big reason why Hollywood loves making big, dumb sequels is that they're easy to sell on the foreign market ... and as that market becomes more essential, the movies only get dumber. For instance, Iron Man 3 actually shot extra footage for its Chinese release, and it fucking sucked.
Tony Stark's 13-minute rant against the evils of capitalism seemed particularly out of place.
Meanwhile, World War Z had to change part of its plot to avoid pissing off China's government/film industry, and even the Red Dawn remake had to replace China with North Korea. Oh, and if you think this will only happen to the mindless blockbuster films, think again. Remember that scene in Looper where Bruce Willis-Levitt goes to Shanghai? Yeah. That wasn't in the original script -- it was added because the movie had Chinese backing.
The catch is that while this trend is brand new, Chinese citizens are already getting sick of it, since it's so transparently stupid. On the upside, China is totally getting their own Netflix, and that has to be good for the movie industry, right?
We assume Breakfast at Tiffany's won't be exported.
#1. Without DVD Sales, Hollywood Can't Afford to Take Risks Anymore
For a long time, the home video market was a huge cash cow for the film industry -- they got a steady stream of profits from DVD sales, which enabled them to take some risks and greenlight some movies that weren't guaranteed hits because, fuck it, they could afford it. What could possibly go wrong?
Oh, right. That might do it.
The Internet, with its magic ability to let you watch movies wherever you want (legally or illegally), murdered that cash cow, cooked its remains, and posted them to Instagram. The DVD market crashed, and that isn't just lowering Hollywood's profits, but the quality of its movies as well.
See, according to one producer, without DVD sales, the studios have no idea how to project their profits anymore. This means no long-shot risks, no pet projects, only movies that they absolutely know will do well on opening weekend and nothing else. So, Transformers 8, Pirates of the Caribbean 12, and 35 Fast 35 Furious.
With any luck, we're not far from a gritty reboot of Schindler's List starring the Rock as that girl with the red dress.
And that's why every other movie is a superhero film -- because superhero films are the only things they KNOW work. For now, anyway.