Nowadays, Hollywood and the American cinema are often described as dying or even already dead, struggling, “schizophrenic”, as well as combined with many other attributes with explicitly negative connotations, which definitely proves that there is a huge problem with the modern film industry, at least in the USA. As all executives of major American film studios claim, the economics of the film industry are changing. Profits are down, even though Hollywood is making splashier films for new, fast-growing markets. Meanwhile, television, once the unglamorous sister, is enjoying record earnings and unprecedented critical acclaim. The problem is that this gloomy opinion about the current depressing state of the film industry is shared not only by studio executives who mostly deal with money and marketing rather than with innovative ideas and talents. It is also common among filmmakers and directors who suppose that the film industry in terms of studio production is in a deep crisis, and there is no obvious solution to this problem in the nearest future. However, is everything really so bad? Besides, how can the film industry be dead if almost weekly the public is offered new releases with some of them being multimillion pictures with star casts and extensive marketing campaigns?
Steven Soderbergh supposes that the state of cinema is so depressive and unpromising exactly because of the business approach of large studios to the process of film production, and he definitely has made a reasonable and valid point in his address at the San Francisco Film Festival. Furthermore, one of the most significant ideas he promotes concerns the difference between cinema and a movie, which in fact is the following:
The simplest way that I can describe it is that a movie is something you see, and cinema is something that’s made. It has nothing to do with the captured medium, it doesn’t have anything to do with where the screen is, if it’s in your bedroom, your iPad, it doesn’t even really have to be a movie. It could be a commercial, it could be something on YouTube. Cinema is a specificity of vision. It’s an approach in which everything matters. It’s the polar opposite of generic or arbitrary and the result is as unique as a signature or a fingerprint.
The problem of the modern film industry is that it produces too few cinema-like movies, instead being focused on generating profits and making each movie economically reasonable to produce. Studios pay less to all stakeholders involved, yet they want more profit against the background of the increasing popularity and significantly improved quality of television programs and series. Studios prefer not to invest in independent films and young inexperienced directors and scriptwriters, which is deemed risky as they may not even return production costs. Instead of fresh ideas and impressing cinema-like films, the general audience is offered endless sequels, thrillers, action films, and other genres that have already proved to be successful from the business and marketing perspectives. Profit-generating potential has substituted talent and interesting unprecedented ideas that are no longer valued as studio executives do not deem them worth the risk, which is in fact the biggest problem of the current film industry. Such an objective and cold-hearted approach kills any chance of the industry revival, turning the image of Hollywood as the village of ideas into just another income-generating business.
However, sometimes business strategies have nothing to do with viewers’ preferences as no one can ever guess 100% what the public will love and which film will become a hit. Passion, innovative approach, non-standard thinking, undeniable talent, and complete involvement of all film crew members are the only factors that can make a film popular and, as a consequence, profitable. Nevertheless, all the aforementioned qualities are stifled and viciously murdered in pristine and cold meeting rooms where studio executives who know all about money and little about talent decide which director and what script have a right to live and which ones have to be abandoned and forgotten. Sodden Soderbergh argues that young talents should be given a right to prove themselves as all those numerous vetoed ideas may be the ones that could give a second life to the film industry. Despite all the gloomy opinions and panicky forecasts, the film industry is not dead yet, and it definitely has a chance to be revived provided studios modify their business strategies and decide to explore new areas, hence producing more cinema-like movies “about hope”.
About the author
Allie Hopkins is an entrepreneur, blogger, and speechwriter at https://exclusivepapers.net/. She is passionate about socializing and dealing with people. She adores participating in webinars and enhancing her knowledge about sociology and psychology.