On Wednesday, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas expressed their concern over the fate of the film industry. Speaking at the opening of a new building at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, the Lincoln helmer predicted the “implosion” of the film industry.
In his view, studios are eventually going to raise the price of tickets for highly anticipated blockbusters and charge much less for award season and art house fare.
“You’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.”
Lucas, who was also in attendance, agreed with much of what his friend had to say–adding that quality content may soon be reserved for TV.
“I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they’re going to be on television,” Lucas said. “As mine almost was,” Spielberg added. “This close — ask HBO — this close.”
“We’re talking Lincoln and Red Tails — we barely got them into theaters. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movie into a theater,” Lucas said. “I got more people into Lincoln than you got into Red Tails,” Spielberg playfully interjected. Lucas also expressed his belief that the extensive promotion of blockbuster releases means that heaps of audience members are ignored. It may be argued that the lack of decent marketing campaigns for smaller films is a prime reason why these projects are suffering.
Let’s look back at last year. Films that went against the grain, like Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire or Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods, received little publicity. Offbeat indies suffered a worse fate. Most filmgoers probably didn’t hear a word about Lynn Shelton’s moving comedy Your Sister’s Sister or Colin Trevorrow’s promising debut Safety Not Guaranteed.
Zal Batmanglij’s ambitious mystery The Sound of My Voice could have had an epic marketing campaign but aside from generating some buzz at SXSW and Sundance, the film was hardly promoted.
Though this is disappointing, studios can hardly be blamed for putting most of their advertising budget into potential blockbusters. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you won’t see a promo for a Lars von Trier film during the Super Bowl. The catch-22 is that unless studios take the risk of promoting smaller projects, there won’t be proof that a thought-proving indie can compete with a film like Man of Steel. If the guys who invented the modern day blockbuster are starting to see the cracks in the facade, maybe Hollywood better take notice after all instead of standing idly by until it’s too late.
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