TV Didn't Kill the Movie Theater (Yet)

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TV Didn’t Kill the Movie Theater (Yet), Competition Forced Them to Adapt or Die

By Rob Payne | Think Pieces | April 23, 2013 | Comments ()


Last week, Joanna struck partially on a topic I -- and, I imagine, most of us cinephiles -- have been pondering for some time. I agree with everything she wrote in her piece on how TV has been successfully waging war against movies and movie theaters for the better part of a decade, except for the headline. Perhaps our nostalgic conception of what multiplexes used to be, or used to mean, has died, but theater owners and the studios that supply them with content aren't going anywhere anytime soon. In many ways, we're just getting older and kids today will wistfully recall their slick, black 3D glasses the way our parents might Smell-O-Vision or drive-ins. Movies and movie theaters aren't dead; they're adapting and evolving into new, vaguely unrecognizable creatures.

First things first: Critics and culture aficionados have been talking about the death of movies since the advent of TV. And then video games were killing both movies and TV. And now the Internet, and its plethora of eyeball consuming possibilities, is doing it all over again. Only a century ago, people thought movies would replace live performances. But we still have concerts and the theatre, only they're either large spectacles on Madison Square Garden and Broadway, with well-known stars, or they're exponentially smaller dive bar sets or local community productions, featuring mostly your friends and family. Entertainment finds a way, always, so we'll have movies, TV, and video games until the fateful day when we finally destroy ourselves or reach a new level of consciousness. Because, damn it, humans like to be entertained, and our favorite entertainments are almost always played out before our eyes. Why else would musicians and stand-ups tour the world, or podcasts perform live?

The only real difference between now and thirty years (or thirty centuries) ago is that where we find our entertainment is fractured by a nigh infinite number of possibilities. It's hard to argue against the obvious popularity, and superiority, of in-home viewing experiences for most movies. Two of my favorites from last year were Safety Not Guaranteed and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, but I saw neither of them at a theater and my affection for them wouldn't have changed if I had. In contrast, a movie that demanded to be seen in theaters, Skyfall, played much better the second time at home, because the theater in which I originally watched it was terrible - dirty, uncomfortable, and filled with other people who clearly didn't care about James Bond as much as I did. But that's my own fault, as there were other theater options that I didn't take, like I did with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and Prometheus, which were the only other movies from 2012 that I made sure to see during their theatrical runs. Your mileage may vary on the quality of those productions, but the absolute best way to see them is on the biggest screen you can find and with a like-minded audience. Avatar is probably the best recent example of this, because if you missed it in 3D and IMAX, you really needn't have bothered.

I'm not alone, as the comments on Joanna's post can attest. Studios know this. Of course they do. This is the exact reason why the majority of movies released by the big studios in the U.S. are tentpoles, franchises, and budget busters they hope will be future tentpoles and franchises. Transformers 4 is only being made because people went to see the first three, at the theater, in droves. Why? Because it's spectacle, and if audiences are going to leave the comfort of their homes and pay the rising ticket costs, they damn well better have a good reason. Even Les Miserables was made to look and feel like the scope could match something from the Marvel Universe, and I have it on good authority that anyone who failed to see Life of Pi on the silver screen is going to deeply regret a year from now when we finally see it on Netflix or Amazon. If even good movies with visual splendor get ignored, why would studios invest in those when the next Batman is guaranteed to turn a staggering profit?

Simply going to see a masterpiece like Moonrise Kingdom (approximately $45 million domestic gross) isn't enough these days, whereas only 11 years ago The Royal Tenenbaums surpassed $50 million with ease (approximately $68 million with inflation). Neither exploded the marketplace, but it's clear that even Wes Anderson fans aren't rushing out to the multiplex quite like they used to. Those types of movies can, and will, still be made, but they're less and less funded by studios and mostly released via studios' indie departments. Mega-deals like Kevin Smith's for Clerks with Miramax just won't happen again, but thanks to crowd funding sites like Kickstarter, the Veronica Mars movie can. Soon, studios will only enthusiastically make these smaller, less bombastic movies when we stop watching them at home or fund them ourselves. If you like being a patron of the arts, for its own sake or your own benefit, this is far from the worst of all possible outcomes.

Just to get a better grasp on how dramatic the shift in audience viewing habits and the studios' response has been, I did some research on Box Office Mojo, using this handy-dandy inflation calculator so all my numbers were equitable. In 1982, the highest grossing movie in domestic revenue was E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which clocked in at a little under $900 million (after inflation) and was shown in less than 2,000 theaters; thus giving it a whopping $500,000 per-theater average. That's nearly a billion dollars in total and a cool half-million for every theater that projected the film, and that's only in the United States. Compare that to The Avengers, which made less than $700 million at home, but on over 4,300 theaters, giving it a measly $143,000 per-theater average. But perhaps that isn't fair? E.T. is considered a classic, and the Marvel movies probably won't stand the test of time in quite the same way. So, let's look at the number two spots for 1982 and 2012, Tootsie and The Dark Knight Rises, respectively.

Considering inflation, in 1982, Tootsie made $438,836,158 on 1,222 theaters, generating $359,113 per U.S. movie theater in which it played. In 2012, The Dark Knight Rises made $448,139,099, but it accomplished this feat on 4,404 theaters, which means its per-theater average in the U.S. was only $101,757. Together, Joss Whedon's and Christopher Nolan's huge hits only averaged about $123,000 per theater, whereas only three movies - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and Annie - in the domestic top 10 box office of 1982 - made less than that or about the same, and everything else made much, much more on average. Logically, if nothing had changed between 1982 and 2012, besides our collective taste, then Avengers and TDKR should have quadrupled the box office performances of E.T. and Tootsie. That they didn't achieve this says nothing about the quality of anything, only that there's been a seismic shift in where and how audiences are watching. Which is, wherever we want; however we want.

But this isn't really news. Ten years after E.T., Aladdin was the highest grossing movie of the year and its revenue already fell way under the Spielberg classic. In 1992, the Disney movie made less than even Tootsie after inflation, with $359,156,102 on 2,331 theaters, giving it a $154,078 average. In 2002, another decade later, Spider-Man was the top blockbuster and while it made considerably more in the U.S. than Aladdin -- $512,978,801 - it did son on 3,876 theaters, for a $132,347 average. So, in 20 years the highest grossing movies dropped approximately $400 million in total revenue, and free-fell on theater averages by more than $350,000. The entire top 10 of 1982 even had a higher per-theater average (at about $230,000) than any of the top movies from the proceeding three decades. Taking into account the international audience, the apparent demand for spectacle is even clearer. As alluded to, 2012's two big superhero showdowns doubled (or better) their profit margins overseas, a tendency that's been observable since at least 1992 and Aladdin. Data for worldwide numbers in 1982 wasn't available, but it would not be surprising if the trend extended that far back with E.T., too.

So, of course movie studios are throwing every bad idea they have at us, because we, and the technologies we've embraced, really aren't giving them a choice. Studios and their executives don't know precisely what is that draws in audiences, so they may as well see if we're interested in the kitchen sink. If that works, throw in water heater; if not, well, why not try the water heater, anyway? The moment some engineer figures out how to achieve something like the Holodeck - where we can watch movies, or experience them, on a 360-degree plane - and an enterprising filmmaker utilizes the novelty to some success, the studios will follow. At that moment, attending the theater really won't be all that different from catching a Broadway show, exorbitant ticket prices and all. The performances won't be live, but one day we won't be able to tell the difference.

Movies have always changed with technology and audience expectations. Silent pictures gave way to talkies, then black-and-white gave way to color, then matte paintings and miniatures gave way to animatronics and then CGI, and then film gave way (or is now giving way) to digital. An industry that used to make money by taking artistic risks, things audiences had never seen or imagined, gives way to an industry that makes money by playing it artistically safe, because we've seen or imagined everything and we liked what we already saw. The only risks now are the extremely calculated risks on new moviegoing experiences - 3D and IMAX from the studios' perspectives, D-Box and offering dinner-and-a-movie in one convenient location from the theaters'. Both only want our dollars, as much as we're willing to give them, and most really don't care how they get it. It's always been this way. Thinking that any executives ought to have more noble concerns is a sure-fire way to make yourself sick.

Thankfully, there will always be room for artists like Wes Anderson, Ang Lee, and Terrence Malick to go deeper than explosive and empty spectacle, even if their works become relegated to the Alamo Drafthouses of the world. And is that so bad? Seeing movies made by people who simply love movies in venues created by others who also simply adore the medium? I don't think so. We just have to make sure, like everything in our on-demand-for-free existence, we actually pay for the art we value. This is something we seem to forget from time to time, in our constant thirst for distractions, but artists deserve to be paid for their goods and services just like carpenters, nurses, and data entry "specialists." If we lament the current state of movies and movie theaters, our viewing habits can help force the change we want to see. And if enough film geeks do that - and pretty much everyone geeks out about movies in some way - then the reports of the movie theaters' death will have been, at least moderately, exaggerated.

If you're at all interested in how I came by my numbers and don't feel like doing the arithmetic yourselves, here's my basic methodology:

1982, 1992, 2002, to 2012 Top Domestic Grosses and Per-Theater Averages
Domestic Gross = Total Receipts for U.S. Releases in the U.S.
Per-Theater = Average Receipts for U.S. Theaters showing U.S. Releases

1982 (Top 10)
ET w/ inflation = $889,552,189 (1,778 theaters) = $500,310/theater
Worldwide = ?
Tootsie w/ inflation = $438,836,158 (1,222) = $359,113/theater
An Officer/Gentleman w/ inflation = $321,438,952 (1,050) = $306,132/theater
Rocky III w/ inflation = $307,450,041 (1,317) = $233,447/theater
Porky's w/ inflation = $261,252,347 (1,605) = $162,774/theater
Stark Trek II w/ inflation = $195,428,112 (1,621) = $120,560/theater
48 Hours w/ inflation = $195,318,019 (1,050) = $186,017/theater
Poltergeist w/ inflation = $189,715,607 (1,060) = $178,976/theater
Best Li'l Whorehouse w/ inflation = $172,616,245 (1,435) = $120,290/theater
Annie w/ inflation = $141,306,736 (1,102) = $128,227/theater
Average = $311,292,440 (1,324) = $235,115/theater (or, $229,585)*

Aladdin w/ inflation = $359,156,102 (2,331 theaters) = $154,078/theater
Worldwide = $504.1 million, w/ inflation = $832,990,148
Domestic vs. Worldwide = -$473,834,046

Spider-Man w/ inflation = $512,978,801 (3,876 theaters) = $132,347/theater
Worldwide = $821.7 million, w/ inflation = $1,044,112,026
Domestic vs. Worldwide = -$531,133,225
Lord of the Rings = $923.3 million, w/ inflation = $1,173,212,406
Domestic vs. Worldwide = $660,233,605

Avengers now = $623,357,910 (4,349 theaters) = $143,333/theater
Worldwide = $1.511 billion Domestic vs. Worldwide = -$887,642,090
TDKR now = $448,139,099 (4,404 theaters) = $101,757/theater
Average = $535,748,504 (4,370 theaters) = $122,610/theater (or, $122,545)*

* Depending on how you do the calculations. Dollar amounts in parentheses are true averages.

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter, tumbls on the Tumblr, and his wares can be purchased here. He is endlessly fascinated that technology has changed television for the better, but that movies are still figuring it out.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • e jerry powell

    I remember drive-ins. I also remember station wagons. In fact, the last time I was in a drive-in, it was in the back of a station wagon. I think I was six.

  • ShagEaredVillain

    Just as many people could be coming out to see movies, just not given as much opportunity. We'd have to look at ticket numbers, not dollars.

    Wasn't E.T. in theaters for over a year? These aren't opening weekend domestic grosses, but full runs. Movies ran MUCH longer in theaters 30 years ago, so the direct comparison isn't that direct.

    Although shorter theatrical trends are a result decreased demand because of home video and cable television...

    I guess that's why your real point is that entertainment finds a way. The industry has adjusted, and it's evened out remarkably well.

  • TheReinaG

    Some movies, even today, get left in the theatre seemingly forever. When I worked at the Drafthouse we had Mystic River for almost a fucking year. We were this >< close to getting rid of it, then they rereleased it for Oscar season.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I may very well be missing something, but I don't get the need to break down ticket sales per screen. It strikes me as irrelevant. Tickets sold is what matters, period. Are there more theaters in the US now than 20 years ago? Wouldn't it stand to reason that each theater takes a smaller piece of the pie?

    Let's say in 1980 a million people went swimming. In 2011 that number had dropped to 800,000.

    Who cares how many different pools they swam in?

  • Yossarian

    But Joanna's column was not so much about technology or revenue or popularity as it was about quality. To say that "the only real difference" over the last thirty years is that technology has given us more options is missing the point. The absolutely huge difference over that time is the increase in quality of television programing to the point that it rivals (and maybe surpasses) the medium of film in storytelling ability.

    We tend to treat film with a kind of unquestioned reverence. Obviously it is a higher form than television, even though television can be pretty good. But does that point of view still apply? If you didn't make separate year-end lists for Best Film and Best Television, if you had to combine them, how high would you rank Breaking Bad, Justified, Game of Thrones, and The Americans? What film would you put higher?

    The budgets may be smaller but the production quality is getting harder to discern, and the writing and acting are indistinguishable other than the fact that television has much more time to build complex characters and explore their actions. At what point do we have to admit that as a medium for storytelling 5 seasons of twelve 40 minute episodes allow for a much richer experience than one 200 minute narrative with a possible sequel?

    Obviously different stories are better suited for different mediums but the unquestioned superiority of film really doesn't hold up any longer.

  • QueeferSutherland

    "If you had to combine them, how high would you rank Breaking Bad, Justified, Game of Thrones, and The Americans? What film would you put higher?"

    Not really a fair comparison. That's like asking what's better, Gone Girl or Mad Men? Just because both TV and movies qualify as filmed entertainment doesn't mean they're necessarily the same medium. Films have larger budgets, often better actors, writers and directors, a broader canvas, and more contained stories. Television may have the opportunity to develop characters and explore actions, but it's not always executed well. Furthermore, television is designed to unfold over X number of weeks while movies limit themselves to one sitting.

    Is film unquestionably better, as you ask? Of course not. But it never really was.

  • Yossarian

    Of course it was. Television in the 1960s was there to sell soap and breakfast cereal. You can't seriously compare it to auteur film making of the same era. M*A*S*H and Cheers and Twin Peaks certainly had artistic and cultural merit, but they don't stand up to the films of Coppola, Kubrick, Scorsese, or Spielberg. At every point in the twentieth century film was unquestionably better than television. It wasn't even close.

    But in the last decade or so? The Wire, The Sopranos, Firefly, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Justified, Archer, Community, Parks & Rec, Game of Thrones, etc, etc. The artistic achievement in television is equal to (arguably greater than) contemporary film. This is a huge leap forward and should not be dismissed. Sure they are different mediums but they are not incomparable. Magazines can be artistic but the novel is unquestionably superior. Video Games can be art but they are not as effective as film. There's no reason to shy away from making and defending these value statements.

    Television is an audio-visual medium not that dissimilar to film. The only real difference is length (and size & scope & sometimes budget). And television right now is as good or better than today's films.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Yeah, I just disagree. Is TV better than it was? Of course. But I still see no way TV and film can be compared. "The only real difference is length." OK. That's a massive, medium-changing difference, analogous to the gulf between monkey and man. Add in budget and scope and the only similarity is that they're both filmed entertainment. Some things are more suited for television (Game of Thrones), others for film (The Raid). Doesn't mean one is inferior to the other.

    Also, magazines can be just as good as books. It's short form vs. long form so again, not really comparable, but if you isolate common elements (non fiction vs non fiction, for instance), it's just as good if not better in some cases.

  • Yossarian

    Anything can be evaluated and compared. It might not be a perfect, scientific or exact comparison but I can tell you that over the past year I've spent far more time enjoying television than I have enjoying film. I can tell you that at this very moment I'll chose my DVR over a DVD when deciding what to watch next. And that my most anticipated viewing of the summer is going to be on the small screen. Those are comparisons.

    Sure magazines can be good. I'll take a David Foster Wallace essay over most new fiction. Hell, Ulysses was initially serialized in a literary magazine if you want to further blur the line. But as a general statement on the current quality of the medium we can debate and conclude that the art of the novel is superior to the magazine. It's not about the potential or past achievement or giving everyone a participation trophy for having the ability to convey artistic expression. The question is: where's the best stuff happening now?

  • manting

    I think theaters are on the way out. The prices keep increasing to nearly ridiculous levels and the concessions are even worse when it comes to prices. I used to go to the theater 10-15 times a year but now its 1-5. I still watch as many, if not more, movies but I do so from the comfort of my home, on a 60" flat screen, for free. I stream movies from solarmovie and movie 1k as well as television shows at no cost to me and when I wish. I feel no guilt about this. If movie theaters had reasonable prices I would not do this but I feel like its the same with the music industry. When cds hit 16-18$ around 2000 I simply stopped buying them and illegally downloaded all my music. Up to this point my cd collection was around 1000 discs. There is a tipping point that will push away American consumers from certain products and industries. Ive reached mine with the movie theater industry.
    Why do all theaters smell like piss by the way? Its gross.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Self-fulfilling prophecy, though. Because you and thousands of others stream and download content illegally, studios are losing revenue. Hence higher ticket prices. Hey, I torrent occasionally, too, but I also don't complain about a $13 movie ticket. There are consequences to convenience.

  • manting

    the ticket prices went up before all these movies were free online. Movies were 13$ in the late 90's, I know pay 16$ or more for a ticket. The movie industry is reaching a point the record industry reached 10 + years ago. They need to rethink their price points since pissed off consumers like me are turning to free content. I don't torrent or download at all - I stream - Im only viewing the content, Im not "downloading/stealing. Also I now have spotify and I will happily pay 9.99 a month for the rest of my life for every song ever

  • QueeferSutherland

    I'm not sure they do need to rethink their price points. Check out this chart, particularly the YOY gross deltas since 1993 (20 years back). Movie grosses are way up YOY, even when compared against inflation. Yes, attendance is down and yes, some of that is a result of rising ticket prices. But that's not prohibiting people from going to the movies, even as home entertainment technology becomes more and more impressive (streaming content, HD TVs, 7.1 HD sound, iPads). Even if movie tickets were $13 in the late 90s (they were actually around $4.50;, please name a form of entertainment that hasn't gone up in price the last 15-20 years.

    Theaters can certainly do things differently, but let's not pretend they're outrageous.

    Splitting hairs on the streaming/downloading point, too, no? Does it really matter if you keep the content? If you're viewing it for free when it's not otherwise available, it's pirating.

  • manting

    those are ticket price avg's and they are deceiving. I live on the east coast and mainly have seen movies in the Phili area where tickets haven't been below 10 since the mid 90's. What ticket prices are in the Dakotas is irrelevant since only a tiny population sees movies there, where in the urbanized NE there are much more movie goers and tickets are much more expensive. Also, discount theaters are included in these studies further driving down the actual avg. As you can see from this graph ticket prices have climbed steeply in the past 10 years - just as I said. If you compared movie ticket prices to inflation they have far outpaced it. With the exception of IMAX most theaters offer no better movie experience than 20 years ago. So why the steady price increases? It drives down attendance, which in turn drives up prices, and this is a steady climb that will kill the movie theater.

    I was at SXSW this spring and would have no problem paying 13 -18$ a ticket for a venue like one of the Alamo locations. Unfortunately movie theaters that offer this kind of experience are the exception, rather than the rule

    I am splitting hairs, but with reason, as far as I know no one has been prosecuted for streaming content, while some random and small amount of people have been prosecuted for downloading. Just covering my ass I guess.

  • QueeferSutherland

    That graph shows that movie ticket prices have doubled in the last 20 years...just like the chart I linked. Prices aren't outpacing inflation by that much, either. A ticket that cost $4.50 in 1995 would cost $6.73 today with inflation. That's only $1.25/ticket less than the actual price. You point about discount theaters and regionality is fair (although I ran a large movie theater in high school in the late 90s in a major EC city and the prices weren't $10), but we can't discount part of the country and cheaper alternatives because it suits an argument. Average price is average price, and incomes in Bismark aren't what they are in Philly. No one is forcing us to see a first-run movie, either.

    You claim theaters don't deliver a better experience. Digital surround sound, digital projection, 4K film, IMAX film, Dolby Atmos, bigger seats, stadium seating - theaters have come a long way in 20 years. Part of that stems from studio creating more theater-ready fare (FX driven summer tentpoles), but let's not forget all the progress made on the technical side as well. We're enjoying the best theater experience ever right now.

    Either way, I don't think that type of entertainment cost increase is unreasonable, particularly with increased film budgets. Tentpoles cost money. Sporting events, concerts, amusement parks - all have drastically increased prices since the mid 1990s. It's the way of the world. Yet people still attend these events. Is there a tipping point where costs will be too prohibitive, causing people to stop going to the movies and reducing grosses? Absolutely. But we're obviously not there yet, and until we are, nothing will change. The market dictates prices, and right now, we're willing the pay what it's charging.

    Hell, I too wish I had access to an Alamo Drafthouse. But I'm not sure if I'd pay more just for the right to drink their expensive beer.

  • QueeferSutherland

    How long until movie theaters begin embracing TV? For instance, how many people do you think would pay to watch Game of Thrones every Sunday in a theater? Or large-scale big-budget mini series like Band of Brothers or The Pacific? Probably a shitload. HBO is about $20/month. I imagine you could get a lot of non-subscribers to pay $7.50 every Sunday night to view GoT on a 70-foot screen. Creative hybrid solutions like this could ensure theaters additional viability.

  • MyySharona

    Alamo Drafthouse does this with certain shows, free admission. It's massive fun to sit with that many fans of a show and watch in a theater. Even if it weren't free, I would pay a standard ticket price to see 2 episodes back to back every two weeks, definitely.

  • QueeferSutherland

    IMO, the best case for theater viewing is IMAX. That's an experience you simply can't replicate at home. Watching Oblivion this weekend (non-IMAX), I was struck by how much less I'd enjoy this movie at home, even on my very nice TV and 7.1 surround sound system. Sometimes there's no substitute for size (those ads theaters run where the big action scene is shrunk in size and volume to fill a flatscreen is brilliantly effective). The sheer scale the theater really contributed to the world-building Koszinski tried to achieve, and I found myself wondering why I don't go to the theater more often. Yes, it's expensive and certain spectators can cause fits of rage. But if you're selective about which films you see in theaters, the experience is still thrilling.

  • ,

    Somewhat off topic, but this seems like as good a place as any to ask: The Hollywood megaplex down the road from me (so generic it's basically hard to tell any difference from the Carmike megaplex down the road from me) is now a Crowne. Will I notice even the slightest difference?

  • ,

    Ouch, my mistake, it's Regal, not Crowne.

  • bleujayone

    If movie theaters want to survive, they need to take a collective stand against the studios. It has already been ruled that studios cannot own and exhibit their movies in theaters they own as that's been determined to be grounds for monopoly. So it stands to reason that for the time being the theater owners and chains need to band together and demand that studios stop bending them over the table with their sliding scales and gross vs. net and being forced to buy the studios crap movies as condition for getting to show the movies they really want to screen.

    Theaters themselves are the ones that need to be creative in order to be viable. Some of them already have done so. Some serve pub food, some serve beer While still others offer theaters without cellphones or aggravating moviegoers and still others offer screenings where you can twitter to your heart's desire without consequence. They offer digital surround sound, stadium seating and 3-D glasses. But in all these cases, it isn't the billion dollar studios ponying up the money to make their product more enticing, they are passing the costs on to the smaller theater companies. The result are higher ticket and snack prices, lower pay for staff, more congested theaters trying to make up money in volume and despite the efforts, a diminished theater-going experience which in turn makes people more inclined to watch from the comforts of their own homes. Sure studios might take individual hits, but they have no problem passing those costs back to the theaters and then back to the customers. he theaters are the ones getting the lion share of the blame and yet they are not getting the profits the studios are reaping for all that grief.

    Studios can survive if the theaters go under. They can always show their
    productions in other formats via online or home viewing or even television if they like. Theaters need to take a stand as a more vital component of the motion picture industry or else the studios will eventually see them as dying and obsolete and therefore an unnecessary appendage better to be amputated altogether.

  • Patrick Garcia

    Apparently, Amazon has a plethora of brand new online content. But they all pretty much look like shet accept for "Alpha House". And I hear "Hemlock Grove", is kind of lame. So the more popular a medium becomes, the more it will balance itself out with crappy content as well.

  • John G.

    It has never made sense to me that studios will pour record-breaking amounts of money into tentpole movies, which may succeed awesomely sometimes, but when they fail you lose a fortune. You could dump that money into a hundred little movies that are more of a risk to succeed, but at a much lower amount of money, and when they do succeed, and get oscar buzz and take off, you make a ton of money, since it costs so little. Tentpoles lose inertia rapidly. They are made or broken on opening weekend. a Hundred interesting Indies can coast for years building up steam.

  • manting

    they (studio execs) think in business terms, fast food tie ins, toys, merchandising, - small movies that are successful don't generate any of that.

  • John G.

    what about my My Dinner With Andre action figures?

  • manting

    only Martin Prince bought any

  • Cazadora

    VOD has reached better than 50% penetration of the U.S. market and the use by Independents of "same time as in theaters" has given them an additional revenue stream. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get at just how much revenue is being generated this way because it's still kept seperate and confidential by the studios/distributors.

  • QueeferSutherland

    If you look at the revenue streams studios have at their disposal these days, it's almost impossible for them to lose money. 3D, international, home video, licensing, streaming -- they're almost always in the black. If they weren't, studios wouldn't make them. Sure, a successful indie can be really profitable. But there aren't too many that are. With a limited number of release weekends and tentpoles dominating the summer, it's just not feasible for studios to invest time and money playing a guessing game when the FX movies print cash.

  • zeke_the_pig

    'Guitar groups are on their way out' - Decca Records' rejection of the Beatles in 1962

  • BWeaves

    I still wonder about the careers of the people who rejected Dr. Seuss and J.K. Rowling.

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