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George Lucas Predicts Death of Big Budget Movies 561

Posted by Hemos
from the the-death-kneel-is-coming dept.
H_Fisher writes "Before the red carpet had cooled at last night's Academy Awards, George Lucas told the New York Daily News that big-budget movies will soon be history. From the article: "'The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie,' said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. 'Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with King Kong.'" Lucas' prediction: "In the future, almost everything that gets shown in theaters will be indie movies ... I predict that by 2025 the average movie will cost only $15 million.""
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George Lucas Predicts Death of Big Budget Movies

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:11AM (#14857804) Homepage Journal

    The problems I have with today's movies are:

    1. More effects than plot/storyline
    2. Hollywood unions controlling costs
    3. Acting unions keeping the status quo too long
    4. Economic pressures keeping people in their homes
    5. New distribution mechanisms breaking down the cartels

    In terms of plot, the average Hollywood movie is regurgitated from previous stories -- they even keep the title nowadays! I've seen great low budget movies with new twists and turns, but with lower production quality. My recent trip to Asia and Europe for the past 3 weeks showed me 3 foreign flick that were surprisingly good -- I even suspended disbelief for 2 of them.

    The unions in Hollywood are notorious for continuing their blacklist and favoritism controls -- keeping costs high and quality low. In order to distribute a movie in the States, you have to be part of the union's preferred cartels. If you attempt to make a movie outside of their control, you'll generally not see wide distribution. Copyright at its finest, here.

    For those who are familiar with my typical rants and raves on Slashdot, this post isn't much different. I'm the sole anti-copyright activist in most threads, and it doesn't hurt me to see copyright failing Hollywood after decades of them abusing their power. The Internet will slowly (or quickly) bring the distribution cartels down, and I can't wait to see what powers come to the artists willing to give up control of their work once it leaves their hands. Money is still there to be made, we just need to find new ways to sell our art without using the force of government to back our profits up.

    On the economic pressure side, the usual enemy to movie theatres is gas pricing. I disagree -- gas prices in my home are not up much once you factor in inflation over the past 15 years. Greenspan did this country a huge disservice with his inflationary system -- making the cost of living go up much faster than our wages did. I believe the average home is poorer today than it was 10 and 20 years ago -- when you look at the cost of entertainment versus the available disposable income, you can see why entertainment is failing. Pile on huge consumer debt levels, and most families can't just Charge It! any longer.

    In the long run, I see great benefit in the Internet is bringing the average consumer a new level of selection. The victor in this is the consumer -- and those who find new ways to bring art from the artist to the purveyor. I'm looking at all the options myself, as I don't really see much reason to support those (ie, Hollywood) who stole from me over the decades I've lived. I'd rather go see a local theatre production (where the actors and support staff get paid through real ongoing work) than make a millionaire out of someone who acted once and believes they have the right to continue to make an income without making actual repeated work.

    George Lucas might be right that Big Budget Movies are dying -- but I think he needs to check his premises. It isn't the consumer that doesn't want to spend money, it is those who have controlled and manipulated the market that have lost the ability to continue their deceit and their monopoly. Information doesn't want to be free, the law of supply and demand just dictates that it will eventually be free in a digital world. There are still billions of people on this planet who will pay for good content, and I'd love to be one of the guys who finds a way to connect the supply with the demand in a profitable way.
    • by FatSean (18753) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:13AM (#14857827) Homepage Journal
      Last one I saw in a theater was Lord of the Rings trilogy. I find myself buying older films, classics.

      Hollywood just doesn't make content for me anymore, so I will gleefully watch its demise.

      Being a major book geek, movies tend to be weak sauce compared to a good novel anyway.

      But it's more fun to watch a movie drunk than to read a book.

      • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:26AM (#14857959)
        The local library and the university library where I live has some good classics and they are free.
    • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:22AM (#14857905)
      If you attempt to make a movie outside of their control, you'll generally not see wide distribution

      in 20 years, if almost everyone has a decent home theatre and a lot of internet bandwidth, these guys will have become irrelevant.
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:26AM (#14857955) Homepage Journal
        years, if almost everyone has a decent home theatre and a lot of internet bandwidth, these guys will have become irrelevant.

        While a succinct and true response, your reply is more important than many might realize.

        Copyright has given monopoly cartel power to a group of people who are now ready to fight to keep it. In 20 years there is a bigger chance of the Internet being controlled by DRM and the cartels than the chance of true freedom. I can only hope that the geeks and hackers find new ways to work around any regulations that we will likely see in the coming years.

        My big fear in the BBS days was copy controls, but they were always worked around. Now I still have those fears, and when the hardware supports the controls, we have to work extra hard to make sure we have work arounds. It's funny how many pro-government geeks are on slashdot who support the work arounds that give us power over the cartel monopolies who get their power from the government.
        • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @01:47PM (#14859436)
          The real damage of over-zealous and lengthy copyrights are in loss over time of historical media.

          The thing is that over-restrictive copyright simply lets holders horde media and ideas. But it does not stop new ideas, which simply cannot use existing popular media as a base as they were able to in the past (like Disney using classic fairy tales).

          So what it does is punish those companies who lack creativity (like, ironically, Disney - though with Pixar they bought creativity once more) but those companies that actually are creative and able to come up with new ideas are actually rewarded more than they would have been in the past, because there is less competition in the space of the truly original work. Pixar is an example of this, where they were successful because of how creative they were but that success was increased by the mediocrity all around them, as other companies worked for years to cross-licence something that was popular last decade.

          I don't really mind longer copyright because I know it will correct itself at some point and kind of become irrelevant in the face of smaller groups able to deliver high-quality media content with far less money. I just feel sorry for kids today that will have a whole media heritage from their childhood locked in a vault guarded by dying compnaies that cannot undserstand how they are killing themselves.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:25AM (#14857941) Homepage
      I believe the average home is poorer today than it was 10 and 20 years ago.

      I believe that people just want to have much more stuff than they did before. 20 years ago, very few people had Computers, nobody had cell phones, thed had 1 phone for the entire house. They didn't have cable tv, and they had small 13 inch tv's. Now people have cable, and giant 60 inch TVs. You can't expect that to cost the same amount. Cars have also come a long way. A car 20 years ago is much less than what most cars are now. Entertainment is the same. Movies now are much more than what they were 20 years ago. You aren't getting the same product. You're really comparing apples to oranges in this case. Would the average american want to watch a black and white movie, where you can see the strings, and there's only 6 actors, and the director/producer/editor/cameraman/lighting tech/lead actor is all the same person?
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:32AM (#14858024) Homepage Journal
        I believe that people just want to have much more stuff than they did before.

        This is one of the 3 important rules of the Austrian economist "time preference" theories -- we all want more rather than less.

        The great thing about what we have is that the free market has provided growth every step of the way. The bad thing about what we have is that it is mostly owned by foreigners that have loaned us the dollars we needed over the past 10 years.

        Americans have much less real money now than any time in US history. Our ability to keep buying and overspending will likely be greatly reduced in coming years, much to the surprise of the average citizen who never realized they really own nothing but debt.
        • by aztec rain god (827341) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:02PM (#14858309)
          Brings to mind the Zappa quote: "Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff."

          Think back to around 1991- dialup access was absurdly slow and ridiculously expensive, a decent computer would cost ya more than 3 grand. Cars were about the same price, but had fewer gizmos and creature comforts. If you wanted a cd of music, you had to fork over the $10 or $15 (No cd burners or emusic or piracy). If people have less real money now then then, it isn't for stuff getting more expensive, it is for their own stupidity, unwillingness to live within their means, and appetite for massive amounts of debt.
      • by xs650 (741277) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:29PM (#14858594)
        Would the average american want to watch a black and white movie, where you can see the strings, and there's only 6 actors, and the director/producer/editor/cameraman/lighting tech/lead actor is all the same person?

        Sounds like porn flicks, except you have too many actors and they're color because color doesn't cost extra anymore.

      • by Fordiman (689627) * <fordiman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:37PM (#14858680) Homepage Journal
        Fact: since 1980, the dollar has lost 61% its value (representing 154% inflation over 100%)
        Fact: since 1980, the average salary of a US citizen has risen from 15,757 to 41,400 (162% increase over 100%)
        Conclusion: in the last 26 years, the average buying power of an American citizen has increased by roughly 3.1%

        Doing good, folks. Lets see if we can't make it 6% in another quarter-century.
      • by TigerNut (718742) on Monday March 06, 2006 @01:59PM (#14859560) Homepage Journal
        Would the average american want to watch a black and white movie, where you can see the strings, and there's only 6 actors, and the director/producer/editor/cameraman/lighting tech/lead actor is all the same person?

        Sounds like Clerks... It was the best thing to hit the big screen in a long time, for a lot of reasons. With the advances in CG animation and home production software, there is no reason a small studio or group of individuals couldn't put together a movie that challenges the big guys on either the storyline or effects fronts - unless you assume that quantity will always outweigh quality.

      • Movies now are much more than what they were 20 years ago. You aren't getting the same product.

        This is debatable. There's no denying that cars are much better today than they were 20 years ago, but entertainment really isn't about technology; it's mostly about story and characters. The reason that the block-buster model is giving way to indie movies is that they focus on the basics.

        Would the average american want to watch a black and white movie, where you can see the strings, and there's only 6 actors, a
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:33AM (#14858033)
      For those who are familiar with my typical rants and raves on Slashdot, this post isn't much different. I'm the sole anti-copyright activist in most threads,

      Wait - what? I'd say 75% of slashdot is anti-copyright, 50% of it anti-patent, and 90% anti-software-patent. Your threads must be small.

    • by fishdan (569872) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:33AM (#14858039) Homepage Journal
      ...Information doesn't want to be free, the law of supply and demand just dictates that it will eventually be free in a digital world... I agree with you completely here, but I disagree on your premise that there will continue to be a market for big budget films. Films are going to get copied and distributed -- as much as people want to complain -- it's inevitable -- as long as technological advances continue, people will put those advances to the usages they want.

      And the theater environment is rapidly losing it's appeal for me -- I'd MUCH rather watch a movie at home on my projector than in a theater with people who can't keep quiet during a movie, can't keep their cellphones off inspite of all the warnings and can't control their bladders for 90 mins. So, for me, the incentive to find a version of a movie that I can watch at home has little to do with $$$ and much to do with convenience. And (imho) that's going to be true for everyone as home entertainment centers become cheaper and better. It used to be that there was something to going to the theater for the big screen experience. With that going away, I can't see people really interested in the cinema much at all. Someone let me know if they think people will still be "going" to the movies in 25 years in Japan or the US.

      So with the Cinema viewers prefering to watch at home, home distribution is the wave of the future -- and I agree with you again, that will lead to inevitable copyright infringement. So, there's really a window of opportunity for the creators of a film to make money. In the first weeks of a movie's life -- they'll have the best version of it, and that's their chance to make money on it -- as you said, supply and demand. It will eventually be cracked though, and then they'll have to compete against the crack -- agani supply and demand. Certainly the studios will find ways to monetize their product -- that's what they do best -- but if the end sum figure is going to be what a movie can make in a competetive market -- people will not be willing to invest big $$$. These movies have these huge budgets because they have a hope of return on nivestment. Without that hope, the investments will go away, and with them the big budgets.

      Fortunately for Hollywood, there are easy places to trim costs. Salaries are crazy, as you mentioned. The entertainment unions are going to be broken because the studios will have to break them. And there will be no more $30M paydays for an actor for one movie. Which is fine by me -- once again, it's supply and demand.

      • And the theater environment is rapidly losing it's appeal for me -- I'd MUCH rather watch a movie at home on my projector than in a theater with people who can't keep quiet during a movie, can't keep their cellphones off inspite of all the warnings and can't control their bladders for 90 mins.

        Seems like a good place to plug the Alamo Drafthouse again as a great place to see a movie [originalalamo.com]. Heck, my wife and I went to the Oscar watching party last night - having the movie theatre experience to watch a television s
        • I've been a fan of Alamo Drafthouse [originalalamo.com] for years, and I'd like to echo your sentiment. For those of you who haven't had a chance to experience the Alamo Drafthouse in Central Texas, it's more or less a combination of the dining / drinking / movie experience. Basically, you take a movie theatre, add a kitchen & bar, then remove every row in the theatre & add a table. You place your orders by writing them down on paper, and a waiter comes by, takes your order, and brings your food / drinks without dis

      • It used to be that there was something to going to the theater for the big screen experience. With that going away, I can't see people really interested in the cinema much at all. Someone let me know if they think people will still be "going" to the movies in 25 years in Japan or the US.

        I'm not going to try to read the tea leaves on this one, but for me "going to the theater" has always been a way to get out of the house, much like going out for dinner or to a coffee shop. Yes, I can cook my own dinner or

        • I ski two days a week. I volunteer one night to help handicap kids learn, and the other I take my whole family out for fun. One day a week I take my kids to gymnastics class, another to soccer practice. Then on Saturday we usually have a (soccer) game in addition to a birthday party of one of the kids in one of their classes. On Sundays I usually hang out with family of friends after church and brunch.

          On the flip side I work from home, and my home theater is in my basement. I've only seen two movies at the cinema in the last six months, but I've probably watched fifty movies in the time (thanks to Netflix .) The guy who gave me the idea for the home-theater is in a similar situation to mine. We don't exactly lock ourselves away from society, far from it. Having a home theater means I invite my friends (and their kids) over for dinner and a movie on Fridays rather then paying a sitter $50, a restaurant $70 and a cinema $30. You don't have to do that too many times for the $5k you put into the theater to pay for itself, and our kids get to socialize with other kids to boot. Besides, I love to cook so the food is usually better, as is the wine.

          I'd say your stereotype of home theatre owners being anti-social is way off base. In fact of the five or six people I know that have a home theater, I wouldn't categorize any of them that way.
    • 1. More effects than plot/storyline

      Depends what kind of movies you watch. Usually the people making comments like this are the ones who like to watch big special effecty movies :)

      If you just want to see movies with good, solid acting and engaging plots, then there are plenty to choose from. But they're not going to be extravagant affairs like Star Wars and King Kong.
    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:55AM (#14858245)
      I can't wait to see what powers come to the artists willing to give up control of their work once it leaves their hands.

      I'm hoping for invisibility and x-ray vision.

    • by I Like Pudding (323363) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:59AM (#14858292)
      Wait, you're actually arguing the point? Everyboy already knows that nothing Lucas writes or says can survive 2 neurons worth of deconstruction. I've even come up with a term for this phenomenon: Reductio ad Jar Jar. This is when you commit a single act so offensively stupid that to even agree with any of your ideas is to be negated. Effectively, your credibility has jumped the shark.

      Lucas: Well, I think what we need to do here is blah blah blah excrement blah
      Lucas' Aide: That's a great idea, sir
      Lucas' Aide, internal monologue: JAR JAR FUCKING BINKS!
      Lucas: Yes, I know. Furthur, blah blah Howard Duck blah blah
      Lucas' Aide: Great, I'll take this to the ILM team
      --
      ILM Team: Yes?
      Lucas' Aide: Here's the latest from George: blah blah Howard Duck blah
      ILM Team: JAR JAR FUCKING BINKS!
      Lucas' Aide: ...what did you just say?
      ILM Team: Er, nothing.

      See also: Howard Dean
      • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday March 06, 2006 @01:11PM (#14859043)
        Jar jar was the best character in the movies.

        Art is about emotion.

        No one really gave a damn about any other character.

        There wasn't any character conflict with any other character.

        The dinner scene where jar jar irritated leem nielson was about the only character conflict in the entire movie (and revealed more about the jedi master's character than any other scene in the movie).

        No one really cares about the other characters in the movie but they all have an opinion on Jarjar. So I say most annoying AND the best character after palpatine in all three movies.
    • by Frangible (881728) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:04PM (#14858339)
      It is the law of supply and demand that guarantees things will improve-- at least in the opinion of most consumers. Hollywood is into sequals because they really do try to meet customer needs and expectations, and give people what they want. When something fails, it is because they gave people something else.

      It saddens us when this is something we personally like (Firefly, Arrested Development, Furturama, etc), but the average consumer is showing Hollywood that the current crap story, ton of CG, big-budget approach isn't profitable. Thus it will not be funded unless it is profitable.

      No one can predict with perfect certainty whether or not something will be well-done and a success. Lucas's recent works were shit, but the original SW trilogy were very successful and critically acclaimed; Hollywood funded Lucas's new efforts because they want to give people what they want and what sells! Not because they want to force crap on you.

      Movies in theaters are indeed gouging in a way, but the costs of showing a movie in a theater have also increased dramatically. Carmike Cinemas has struggled financially for a very long time, believe it or not but owning large buildings in an urban area, licensing the content, and upgrading to the newest AV technologies over and over again is quite expensive. Movie theaters are expensive but it is not a high-profit ripoff scam business, the costs are expensive as well. I hope this will diminish in favor of the home theater and other distrubution methods. The economics here are failing.

      In the future Hollywood will continue to try to give you what you want. Pay money for movies you think are excellent and you want to see more of, and support them. Don't support crap. Hollywood is very responsive to economics.

      There will always be crap, because not even the people funding the movies can predict how they're going to turn out; they can only read the proposals and evaluate the past performance of the people making them. But they have a larger stake than you or I do in wanting to make sure they succeed. Sometimes this is underhanded, such as not showing a screening for critics with the recent "Ultraviolet" as they realized how much the end product sucked. But the movie industry never wanted it to get to that point, they want to make things that are epic and successful-- after all, that's the most profitable.

      Big budget movies will never die, because of this. The investors and production companies will put their resources into maximizing their profits, and most of them really do love film and want to do make great movies. They gamble with the knowledge and dreams they have, they will always lose and win. Avoid the losers and support the winners, and this helps things evolve in the future.

      And hey, I don't think Hollywood is abusing their power either. DVDs are great; a high quality version of a movie that even has a great viewing experience on a $20 player. Most of them cost less than music CDs and have a lot of bonus content. Sure, DVDs use CSS, but there's nothing wrong with wanting to protect your content and livelihood either.

      Entertainment costs are down, down, down. Electronics are cheaper than ever, and getting the content legally-- via DVD, or new services like NetFlix make movie watching a better experience than in the VHS days, and a more economical one. TVs have dropped in price by almost half since the 80s due to improvements in cost production, and a DVD player costs maybe 20% of what a VCR once did. DVDs cost barely more than VHS tapes used to-- they go up less than inflation. And you can buy older DVDs for less than $5!

      Hollywood has stolen nothing. They lose more than you do when a movie sucks. I don't ask you support bad content, but I ask that you do consider supporting things you want to see more of. I recently paid ~$80 for Seasons 1 and 2.0 of Battlestar Galactica, not because I hadn't already downloaded the bittorrents, but because I want to support good content and share it with others.

      Finally remember that film is one medium for content alone. There are many ways to tell a story, and if film is not meeting your needs, you can always indulge another.


      • Part of the problem is that the law of supply and demand also comes into effect in a different way when you have piracy.

        With lots of piracy, demand goes way down, that is, demand to buy the product from the owner.

        So what happens if at the same time, you see a drop in demand due to the crappiness of the product, and also due to a change in viewing habits? It is empirically nearly impossible to determine what the real cause of the drop in demand is.

        This is basically the combination of factors we see now. In
      • Movies in theaters are indeed gouging in a way, but the costs of showing a movie in a theater have also increased dramatically. Carmike Cinemas has struggled financially for a very long time, believe it or not but owning large buildings in an urban area, licensing the content, and upgrading to the newest AV technologies over and over again is quite expensive. Movie theaters are expensive but it is not a high-profit ripoff scam business, the costs are expensive as well. I hope this will diminish in favor of
  • by JDSalinger (911918) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:12AM (#14857808)
    Lucas fails to mention what has changed in the viewer or economic system. A relatively short period of time ago, big budget films were often hits. There was a placebo effect, whereby people would have high expectations of a big budget film (despite this often not panning out.... i.e. WaterWorld).. Both the Spiderman and X-Men movies have proved that big-budget films, of late, can score big.
    It's not just about ticket sales, but merchandising as well. Except for t-shirts and posters, "indie" films cannot compete with the merchandising opportunities of the types of movies that mandate big budgets.
    • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:15AM (#14857844) Homepage
      Would you rather have revenues of 30 million on a 10 million dollar film, or revenues of 100 million on a 90 million dollar film? Sometimes (a lot of times) you make more money on smaller films. Keep in mind, in business, as in life, a number alone means nothing. You need a context or another number to compare it to.
      • The other effect is that with a much smaller budget, they can actually make money if they keep distribution costs down by allowing people to "sample" a low-res version, creating demand for a legit hi-res version that can be sold on the cheap and still be profitable for everyone in the supply chain.

        Heck, when budgets get low enough, you'll see them being given away in breakfast cereal boxes. Distribution cost to the producer is then $0, and the profit is locked in.

      • by TheLink (130905) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:29AM (#14857981) Journal
        "Would you rather have revenues of 30 million on a 10 million dollar film, or revenues of 100 million on a 90 million dollar film? "

        If you're are one of the owners of the companies that take huge chunks from the 90 million dollars, it's obviously which is better. Doh.

        You get USD90 million from someone else/investors. Pump that into your companies or companies owned by your cronies (marketing, distribution, merchandising, effects, consultants, legal, etc). Who cares if the movie loses money, or makes very little?

        Naturally you try to adjust stuff so that the investors grumble but still make enough money on _average_ to keep coming back.

        From time to time if stuff don't go quite as planned, you can just blame piracy, P2P etc.
      • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:43AM (#14858141) Homepage
        Here are some facts.

        Hollywood uses a very strange accounting system. No movie in history ever made a profit. No matter how much a movie will Gross it will never exceed the expenses for that film. I know. Several friends had been promised "Net points" on a hollywood film they worked on. They never made a dime (Look at Stan Lee they tried that crap on him as well!) while the few like the director were given "Gross Points" and made their millions. After everyone is paid the rest of the money goes into paying the Gross points and other incidentals so that no movie ever makes a net profit.

        This has been this way forever in Hollywood.

        Secondly most hit movies lately have been indie films bought and then re-made These are the ones that people actually talk about, buy the DVD, and reccomend others to see. Most of the big budget films do not get the re-viewings or reccomendations from people to their friends.
        • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:45PM (#14858766)
          It gets weirder than that. Hollywood exploits tax loopholes around the word [slate.com] to bring down the upfront investment in a movie to a fraction of its total costs. The linked article claims that even though Tomb Raider had a budget of $94 million that the studios only had to put up $7 million for it. Fortunately, the German government recently closed this same tax loophole that has fueled Uwe Boll's abysmal career.

          Is it just me, or do you get the impression that the mob has easier to follow bookkeeping than a lot of corporate America today?
    • by bloobloo (957543) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:18AM (#14857871) Homepage
      While Waterworld is often used as an example of a failed big budget movie, it had made $115 million profit as of 2005, [forbes.com] which equates to a 4.1% annual return. While not enormous, it isn't to be sniffed at either.
    • by vertinox (846076) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:10PM (#14858399)
      Lucas fails to mention what has changed in the viewer or economic system. A relatively short period of time ago, big budget films were often hits. There was a placebo effect, whereby people would have high expectations of a big budget film (despite this often not panning out.... i.e. WaterWorld).. Both the Spiderman and X-Men movies have proved that big-budget films, of late, can score big.

      But could you even do Spider Man or X-Men in 1985 with 10 times their budget? The only reason those films worked under their current budgets was CGI.

      CGI still costs an arm and a leg, but its not as costly as it was with Terminator 2.

      Frankly, CGI will continue to improve until we can't tell a difference between it and real life (I think we have reached that point in some aspects) but will simply drop in price over time.

      Eventually, machina-esque movie making will come out of a the box much like Sims Movie Maker program. The price in CGI will go down since all props will have already been rendered and with faster and more powerful cpus the rendering time will be pretty nihl to what you need to do a full length movie now.

      Heck, an indie film maker might be able to pull off a movie without a 3d effects or 3d modeler artist if he can buy a "pre-canned" package. After all... Once the human mind can't tell the difference between a live actor and a computer generated one, you don't have to re-create that model over and over again from scratch. Just sell the model and let the indie director style it with a gui interface out of box.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:12AM (#14857810)
    ...the death of big George Lucas movies. Aw, shoot. Already happened.
    • Mod parent up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Frangible (881728) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:30AM (#14857998)
      Film is just another medium for telling a story. If the story is bad, the film will fail. Breasts, explosions, breasts, fire, breasts, CG, breasts, and breasts can make it vaguely entertaining, but it still won't be a very good movie.

      And that's what a great deal of movies have been lately. Barely tolerable, stupid plots, that are not good stories and certainly would not stand on their own merit independant of medium, where infusions of cash, breasts, and CG try to make up for this. But in the end, all you get is a really expensive, bad movie, with a few tit shots. Putting the female lead on a trampoline, or just saying fuck it and turning it into a porno would probably be better at that point.

      Indie movies don't necessarily have good plots, either. I've seen some pretty bad indie movies lately. Open Water, and the stupid one about the "death" tunnel or whatever were both distinctly worse than porn. In the end, it's all about the story, moreso than anything else. Film techniques and dynamics such as acting, direction etc are important as well, but second to the story.

      Want my money? Tell me a good story. Then we'll worry about the CG and breasts. If I just want the latter without a story, I'll get a video game or porn.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        "Film is just another medium for telling a story. If the story is bad, the film will fail. Breasts, explosions, breasts, fire, breasts, CG, breasts, and breasts can make it vaguely entertaining,

        you have an interesting storyline there.. care to make a movie? I would finance.

        -MPAA

  • $15 Million (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deviantphil (543645) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:12AM (#14857811)
    Does this count for inflation?
  • by ExE122 (954104) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:12AM (#14857818) Homepage Journal

    Look at what happened with 'King Kong.'

    The problem isn't the budget, its the lack of creativity. 'King Kong' is not a new movie, it is a remake of the 1933 RKO classic. Other big budget films: The Fog, The Nutty Professor, The Exorcist, Charlie's Angels, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Spiderman, Day of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, The Shaggy Dog, The Pink Panther, etc, etc, etc... And lets not even get started on sequels that should've never been made! (Anything that makes over 200m these days is just about guaranteed a sequel, whether is should have one or not)

    I took a History of Film class in college, and I remember learning about how "lulls" are often preceded by an abundance of recycled plot lines. The mainstream has run out of creative writers. Just about everything is a remake of something that's already been made. That's why independent, low budget films have become more popular. They are more likely to substitute a lack of special effects and big-name, no-talent casts with well developed plot-lines, creative stories, and some damn good acting.

    This isn't even that big of an issue in all honesty. The big budget industries are complaining because they're only making an average of $250 million instead of $350 per crappy-remake-of-an-old-tv-show movies. They will go on spoon-feeding shit to the masses and having them eat it with a big grin on their face.
    • by Tim C (15259) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:36AM (#14858066)
      Just about everything is a remake of something that's already been made.

      As opposed to being a remake of something that hasn't been made before?
    • It's not so much that the mainstream _has_ not creative writers, but rather that the producers are terrified of investing in anything that isn't, in their eyes, a guaranteed money maker.

      Given the choice between dumping brobdingnagian amounts of cash into something dull but practically guaranteed to make a small profit or into a more original concept with no money-making history, the smart investment is to put your money on the schlock.

      As Lucas points out, that's where good business and good art just don

    • I don't get his example. What's wrong with King Kong? According to the IMDB business page, it's made $519 million on a budget of $207 million. Uh, I dunno about George Lucas, but I'd sure as hell take that investment! (And this is before the bulk of the DVD sales, and not counting the various merchandising deals.)

      Lucas needs to realize that the original Star Wars trilogy were flukes... never before, and never since, have such cheaply-made movies (no offense to fans, but the budgets were relatively low)
  • "Though big-budget hollywood earned me millions - screw the next generation... they ain't gettin' any my investment money"
  • Well, yeah.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tpno-c[ ]rg ['o.o' in gap]> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:15AM (#14857840) Homepage
    This is lucas we are talking about. The same man who made Revenge of the Sith.

    He has no business making movies any more, and less making predictions.
  • Lucas points to one large budget disaster (Kong) as proof that big budget movies are doomed. King King was a disaster becasue the studio couldn't rein in the director and force him to put out a movie that would actually sell.

    Movie budgets aren't going to come down any time soon. These independent films Lucas thinks will be the wave of the future will merely be blueprints to be copied by the major studios. Small movie sells and big movie copies. It's that simple.

    Besides, I though we got the doom and gloo
  • The Difference (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3CRanch (804861)
    I think the difference between the indie movie he mentions and the typical Hollywood mega-bux picture is story line. If you have a good story line, you don't necessarily have to pump mega-millions into the pic.

    Bring back good writing and yes the cost per film will drop.

    Keep throwing flash and glam into pics like many of the recent Hollywood money-black-holes and the price will only keep going up.

    Flash and glam do not (always) a good movie make.
  • Yeah, no one went to see the remake of a remake, I wonder why...
  • by Hosiah (849792) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:17AM (#14857865)
    "I'm out of Star Wars ideas."
    • Sadly he's had a script and actors ready to make Indiana Jones 4 for some time but won't do it. It sounds like he doesn't think it will make money. Being an even number it may be awful, but I'd like to see one last big budget indy film :)

    • by doublem (118724) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:59AM (#14858287) Homepage Journal
      You hit the nail on the head here. Lucas is the current Hollywood Ideal. Big special effects combined with a lukewarm, recycled plot. I think what's happening is people are becoming disappointed with this model.

      Audiences want actual storylines. The problem is Hollywood is going for the "safe" or "Sure" bet of remaking something that's already been done.

      The example of "King Kong" was an incredibly absurd one. Jackson got to make "King Kong" because of the tremendous success of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which demonstrated nicely that long, epic, big budget movies still draw a substantial audience.

      The age of big budget movies is not coming to an end. What we are hopefully seeing is an end to banal, poorly written big budget movies. I suspect one of two things will happen. Either Big Budget movies will start being produced with innovative, interesting and well written scripts, or the bad writing will continue at a lower cost per movie.

      Big Budget Hollywood movies are only going away if Hollywood fails to hire decent writers and take some chances on new plots.

      Actually, from the viewpoint of Lucas, he's right. The kind of Big Budget movie of which he's capable is dying. You need actual writers to make one that will thrive.
  • by DashItAll (910036) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:22AM (#14857897)
    Ok...according to Box Office Mojo: http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=kingkong05 .htm/ [boxofficemojo.com] King Kong cost $217 million to make. And it's made, worldwide, $544 million. Now, only about half of that goes back to the studio, and there were certainly huge marketing costs, but we've still got DVD and Pay Cable and Basic Cable and Broadcast rights and Video Game Licenses and Merchandised Crappola. Maybe they're not Titanic-happy, but it's hard to see them crying.
  • I agree, mostly. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by benjjj (949782)
    It's getting cheaper to do largely realistic special effects, and the benefits of spending truckloads of cash on cutting edge CGI just aren't visible to the average viewer. Take "Munich"...that story could have been told with no custom-built sets, no CGI effects...basically, a bunch of cameras, some permits in European cities, and a handful of blood packs. But Spielberg managed to spend $75 million on it, according to IMDB. Basically, anything involving Industrial Light & Magic is probably going to be t
  • by Gorimek (61128) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:23AM (#14857919) Homepage
    With the computers of 2025, maybe you only need $15M to make King Kong?
  • Mr. Lucas in part may be correct. However I feel he left out a vital factor. The growing emergance of the internet. I believe with technology progressing how it is today soon the quality of home movies will surpass a reasonable standard to where homemade movies can be shown as feature films. Maybe not on the big screen but with the internet as a new distrobution medium I think we will see a time where there is a entire movie industry decicated to online distrubution of homemade movies. Maybe for 2 or 5
  • by Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:26AM (#14857954) Homepage
    Indie films will start taking over once they start making more money than big budget films. Then, everyone will jump on the bandwagon and at some point moviegoers will get as tired of them as much as we are tired of epic flops now. Then, someone will take a chance on a big budget blockbuster that has an excellent story, good acting, and generally does everything right and it will make an exorbitant amount of money. Then, things will trend back to blockbusters. It's no different than any other copycat industry, like sports where general managers will try to remake their teams in the image of this year's champion every year.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:34AM (#14858046) Homepage
    Hollywood has, for many reasons, certain archetypes that prevent it from being creative. You have the ass-kicking woman who can take on men who are significantly more muscular and in better shape as though they were middle school bullies, the stupid white man (doubly so if religious, which makes him barely 1 dimensional), the thug or post-thug black man, the child who knows it all. There are others, but those are the ones that always strike me as incredibly lame and tired, but they're a standard because they produce reliable results, or seem to anyway.

    In the real world, even women with fifth degree black belts in real Tae Kwon Do can often be physically overpowered by muggers who have a biological advantage over them. Religious people have been some of the most intelligent and educated in society (not all, but definitely not fitting the dumbass, wild-eyed zealot archetype), blacks are often these days successful members of the middle class with no connection to "the ghetto", there are many stupid asians who amount to "nothing" in life, kids (especially teens) are often total morons compared to those older than them, etc.

    There was some animated comedy a little while ago that featured fairy tale characters like the Big Bad Wolf, but I couldn't couldn't bring myself to watch it because of how horribly archetypal the characters were and how cliche the story was. The sassy, badass little red riding hood (1 point down), the ass-kicking granny (1 point down), the idiotic big bad wolf (1 point down). Then there's the trailer. So typical of hollywood that I couldn't give it the benefit of the doubt. I swear to God they must be pulling these out of a vault where they keep a base story line and let it mutate into several possible storylines like some fast evolving bacteria or fungus.

    And when Hollywood does in fact do stories that break a mold, they do it with movies like Brokeback Mountain that they know are going to alienate fans of the genre. Who seriously thinks that that movie won them approval from those who like Westerns? Of all the possible stories, they chose the one break from the norm that in the eyes of most Western fans (I'm generally not one) that shits all over the cultural norm for the genre (gay cowboys). And they wonder why they're alienating their fans and making indie movies more popular. This is, IMO, the tip of the iceberg of what is fundamentally screwed up with Hollywood in a business sense. They take risks where they know they'll be bad for business.
  • by Bogtha (906264) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:34AM (#14858048)

    "King Kong" box office record [xinhuanet.com]

    Big budget epic "King Kong" has generated 100.3 million yuan (about 12.5 million U.S. dollars) on the Chinese mainland, becoming the box office king among imported films in the past five years.

    "King Kong," with a 207 million U.S. dollars budget and 540 million U.S. dollars in global box office revenues, has received four 2006 Oscar's nominees -- Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects.

    So a 200% return on investment in the first year alone, not counting merchanidising, not counting DVD sales, DVD rentals, TV licensing and Hollywood accounting practices, isn't enough?

    There's another thing as well - lower budget doesn't mean lower quality. I don't mean that you can get by with spending less on equipment, hiring unknown actors, etc, I mean that if tomorrow's average budget for films is a tenth of what it is now, you wouldn't notice from watching the films.

    Drop the salaries across the board, and you won't get lesser performances. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie aren't going to stop trying so hard because they get paid $1 million per film instead of $20 million per film. Hell, you might get big name actors to work a bit longer before retiring.

    Drop the advertising budget across the board, and you won't get less demand. You won't get any more competition from the low budget films because whatever Hollywood spends on advertising would still far outstrip people with limited budgets, even after massive reductions.

    The only reason so much money gets spent on advertising and actors is because there's always somebody in Hollywood willing to spend more. It's a tragedy of the commons. If people weren't so eager to get the #1 name or the most airtime, the same films could be produced for a fraction of what they are at the moment.

    • by Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:53AM (#14858231)
      You need to educate yourself about how movie accounting works.

      You pay $10 to watch a movie. This is the GROSS.

      The exhibitor (eg Cineplex Odeon) take 50% $5 and pass the rest up the chain.

      The distributor (eg Lions Gate, Miramax, Gold Circle) take 50% ($2.50) and pass the rest up the chain.

      The remaining $2.50 is the PRODUCER'S GROSS.

      The A-list actors who have a % of gross take their cut. Say 20%. That leaves $2.

      Now that $2 is used to pay off the cost of production ('negative cost') and give the investors a return on their capital. This includes things that have already been paid like producer's fees, actors' fees, writing fees, all the crew costs, etc. The studios usually get a big cut of this because the movie uses their facilities, which they charge out at exhorbitant fees.

      Once the negative cost has been recouped (if ever), what's left is PRODUCER'S NET, which is what most people in the movies mean by profit.

      As a writer, I usually get 5% of this, sometimes known as 'five monkey points' because only monkeys think they mean anything.

      But anyway, the logic of all this is that a movie must make AT LEAST 4x it's negative cost to go into profit. So a $200m movie must gross $800m+ to go into profit.

      • by shummer_mc (903125) on Monday March 06, 2006 @01:29PM (#14859255)
        Okay, I'm no genius, but it appears that this is set up this way for (wink/nudge) tax reasons. I don't know about KK, but often the distributor is the same corp. as the producer (at least for these large budget deals)??? If not, then I'd bet it's a colluding oligopoly.

        I would imagine (or, it wouldn't surprise me to learn...) that there's a 'floating' percentage that the distributor takes to make sure that there is never ANY producer's net (monkey points.. that's funny) and the producer's gross is inline with an average to pay the 20% for the actors. [dammit, where's my tinfoil hat!?]

        The corporate structure simply has nifty ways of hiding the money so that the tax take is small (and the ACTUAL profits, paid as owner distributions, wages, and executive loans, are high) and most of the money stays in "hollywood."

        I'm no expert, as I mentioned, but I realize when GM reports 'net losses' of $X billion that it's not really LOSSES, but they are able to claim a LOT of exemptions and expenses (some real-- some not).

        For your next film, you should forfeit half of your *worthless* 'monkey points' for audit rights... I bet they'd balk.

        As evidence of the distributor's collusion, Lionsgate dist. (who doesn't really have a competitor) is basically sucking up all the films that are too risky for mainstream corp. hollywood to finance outright. Then they take the profits (as above) and distribute them to the colluding accounts of the oligopoly. They only buy the rights to the ones that create 'buzz.' This is a 'legit.' mafia... I don't think it's a secret, either.

        By the way, thanks for being a writer. I've had fantasies about becoming a writer, but the risk/reward is too low. I'm glad it's working out for you....
      • People must realize that approximately 90% of profit on movies (as of 5 years ago I believe) came from non box-office sales. That profit mainly comes from DVD/VHS rental sales, but also TV, Pay per View, Product Placements, and Merchandising. If your $200m movie grosses $200m at the box office, you've got a huge winner. Notice I said profit, not revenue. This is why movie theatres suck. They have no control over the distribution chain, product, and are sucha small slice of the pie for the movie studios th
      • by madopal (308394) on Monday March 06, 2006 @02:26PM (#14859826) Homepage
        The exhibitor (eg Cineplex Odeon) take 50% $5 and pass the rest up the chain.

        Unless the chains somehow got more power, this isn't the case.

        When I worked for General Cinema in the late 80's, there was a sliding scale for the amount of profit the theater kept. It started out at about 10%, and increased each week the movie ran, and I believe it capped out at 50%. So, a movie had to run 5 weeks to get 50% of the box office ticket.

        That's why concession prices are so high...they only made (then) about $0.75 a person for an opening showing. Most movies never stayed running for 5 weeks, so the only place they could recoup costs was to charge a bazillion percent markup on popcorn and soda.
  • by stunt_penguin (906223) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:44AM (#14858156)
    On the day after Crash deservedly took the oscar for best film, hollywood needs to consider how many movies like Crash, Sideways, Munich, Serenity, Sin City, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Open Water, and Sean of the Dead are out there waiting to be made, and which could be made for much less money and make a much better return on their investment than utter piss like Mr and Mrs Smith or the latest Pink Panther.

    Not all of the above are cheap films, but none of them had a couple of hundred million thrown at them, and every single one of them made a decent return. Hollywood is run by suits who dole out money to what they belive to be the safest option- a small selection of dead horses which the shamelessly flog (market) into turning a profit.

    Someone please, please hand Michel Gondry, Charlie Kaufman, Darren Aronofsky, Guy Richie, and Christopher Nolan ( could go on, but am pressed for time) 100 million dollars each (that's $500m - less than the cost of cost two summer blockbusters) and sit back and watch about 15 great movies happen.

    What a summer movie that'd be.
  • by sjonke (457707) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:49AM (#14858191) Journal
    n/t
  • by artemis67 (93453) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:51AM (#14858209)
    How many movies came out last year with King Kong's budget? Just one.

    The "average" cost of a movie is already far, far below $200 million... I would say that the "average" cost of movies is already in the $15-20 million range.

    One of the biggest expenses of the movies is actors' salaries. Do anybody here actually believe that the studio execs LIKE paying $20 million to an actor for one film? Of course not, but they are paying the market rate for that actor. Actors draw audiences, so how does Lucas propose that the studios force the big name stars to take a lower salary?
  • by rewinn (647614) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:52AM (#14858213) Homepage

    ... can pretty much cut out the studios. If a moviemaker has a good idea (or a lousy idea) for a short film, they don't need one of the big distribution systems anymore. One such site is youtube [youtube.com] and no doubt there can be many others. Eventually they will be able to host full-length fims which are rated by the audience, not the critics .... sort of like /. itself!

  • Someone gets it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RyoShin (610051) <[tukaro] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:56AM (#14858263) Homepage Journal
    This is what plagues the RIAA and MPAA. This is what plagues movie screens and radio. Piracy is a problem, yes, but it's not the reason these big corporate types are losing money is because of the big corporate types. Putting out new colors of the same thing will drag sales out only so much.

    I think one of the bigger reasons that Mr. Lucas is right is the ability for novice movie makers to do their own CGI. While it may not be as flashy as the big-budget movies, it's enough to get across the idea, as long as a good story compliments it. For instance, while using StumbleUpon, I found a video for a fan-made parody of Power Rangers called "Emo Rangers". The initial episode (which was all I could find) ran about 18 minutes or so, and had some pretty good effects (certainly better than we saw in the original Power Rangers). Considering that all the group that made it had was a YouTube entry and a domain that forwarded to their MySpace account, I highly doubt they had a large budget.

    People are waking up and realizing that they've already seen this plot thrice, and oh now we can predict the plot twist. Shiny objects will entrance people for only so long. Good stories are taking precedence, and this will allow more indie directors to get their turn in the spotlight.
  • George (Score:3, Funny)

    by tprime (673835) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:59AM (#14858288)
    This has to be correct because Lucas has been spot-on lately when it comes to understanding what the public wants...
  • by Deslock (86955) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:02PM (#14858313)
    "The market forces that exist today make it unrealistic to spend $200 million on a movie," said Lucas, a near-billionaire from his feverishly franchised outer-space epics. "Those movies can't make their money back anymore. Look at what happened with 'King Kong.'"
    Huh? It cost $207 million and earned $543M to make. Unless marketing and distribution cost them more than $336M, Kong was profitable.

    Source: http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=kingkong05.htm [boxofficemojo.com]

  • If Lucas is right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wonkavader (605434) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:05PM (#14858340)
    I can only say "HOORAY!!!!!!!!!!"

    He was a big part of the start of the expensive movie model. I hope he's right that we're goin back to things before Star Wars.

    The effect would be story-driven movies, with more actors and writing, and less special effects and production value costs. That means more movies, and more ideas.

    (And a lot more crap, but the massive information flow of the Internet helps filter out stinkers.)

    I'd be a happy camper.
  • by robyannetta (820243) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:23PM (#14858534) Homepage
    I still think George Lucas needs to be in a straightjacket, kept away from his own films.

    I think what George is trying to say is that with modern technology being so inexpensive, there's no need for spending $200M per film. Just renter it on his (or anyone else's) computers. Okay, this does make some sense.

    I've seen zero-budget high-FX films come from people's home computers. Some of these are damn good.

    I can see what Georges is trying to say, but I honestly believe him wrong. Big budget movies are here to stay. Sometimes I want to be wowed at the theatre too. LOTR was well worth the $300M budget.

    Will theatres be runover with indie flicks? No. But I'd like to see a better balance in the theatres. I'm tired of going to the megaplex and seeing 4 screen showing Gigli.

  • Peanut Gallery (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sielwolf (246764) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:35PM (#14858655) Homepage Journal
    There are a lot of standard complaints that are thrown around that don't bear out. In behavior finance this is the demonstration of revealed preferences over stated preferences.

    Everyone likes to turn to the classic bit on the lack of imagination in Hollywood when there is little evidence that the movie-going masses would have preference for "more imaginative" movies.

    First, everyone likes to point at how Hollywood likes remakes. Well this isn't a recent phenomenon. King Kong wasn't just remade in 2005 but in 1976. You could've rented the DVDs for both previous versions and watched them before seeing PJ's version. You can go all the way back to Cecile B DeMille remaking the Ten Commandments and continue on as Hollywood repeated the standard film plots, from sword and sandal standards to Dragnet to... Lord of the Rings. And that brings up the real point:

    People don't mind remakes, they just don't want "bad" remakes.

    The funny thing is what constitutes "bad". Consider the original King Kong. Everyone will call it a classic. Heck probably more people would call it a classic than have actually seen it. And I bet most of them have no real drive to do so even though its just a Netflix order away. It's because what most people consider "bad" are opinions on effects and film production: less believable special effects, stage-derived pre-Method acting, pre-New Wave static cinematography, etc.

    Basically they want special effects. And not just any special effects, modern special effects.

    And that isn't even due to the plausability of the effects, just expectation. Compare the movies Cache and Saw: the second is clearly gorier and more violent. It is wall to wall violence and bodycount. The former has only one on-screen death (two, if you count a decapitated rooster). Now what are the reactions to the two? I've been in theaters for both and the little Hitchcockian thriller Cache shocked the audiences more than Saw did. Why? Because it's violence didn't fit into the expecations of the audience. People seeing Saw know what they're going to see; they can put on the mask of fake bravery and laugh at the misfortune of shallow unsympathetic characters. Cache engages the viewer in a completely different way: by that nefarious "character-driven plot".

    Of course Saw made hundreds of millions of dollars while Cache showed to small art houses. Saw also spawned a sequel.

    And that leads to the emergent behavior of movie goers: they expect repetition. Repetition in effects, in plot, in characters. This is why sequels have been and are so popular. People tire of watching the same movie over again. But they wanted repeated experience. So you take a movie, conceive of a similar plot, rehire the same actors, set designers and let them go. Most sequels are really more serials with the idea of an over-arching plot pretty tenuous. Franchises like Bad Boys, Big Momma's House, American Pie. Disney has made a cottage industry of this, crapping out straight to video releases and cartoons based upon their best received product. Its a fine line of just different enough to make it stand on its own while not so different as to fall outside of expectation.

    That last one is the killer, something like only 5% of non-franchise movies recoup the costs of the other 95%. And these are rarely anything special. These are the My Big Fat Greek Weddings of the world. And you can bet the masterminds have sat down and tried to figure out how to franchise those too.

    Folks aren't looking for plot-driven, nonstandard movies. Look at the Best Picture nominees this year: Capote, Brokeback Mountain, Crash, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich. Their nominations were out over a month ago and only Brokeback has gone over 75 million. Crash has made 55 after a full year in theaters. Spielberg's Munich has only recouped 45 of the 75 m
  • by ElboRuum (946542) on Monday March 06, 2006 @12:45PM (#14858770)
    The fact is that the moviegoing experience is not what it once was. Mostly gone are theaters with high-vaulted ceilings, art-deco lobbies, and theater screens which could wallpaper the front of most middle-class homes and still have enough material left over to paper the half the sides and the roof. Gone also are the comfortable reclining seats, replaced instead with stadium seating rigs which are so uncomfortable I believe they were taken straight out of the coach classes of retired 737's.

    The theater experience used to be something that you couldn't get at home. Going to the movies was a sense of occasion. It was a gathering place.

    Take away the comfort and the sensory deprivation and the immersion to the point where a person can, for a few thousand dollars investment in a low-end theater rig, get a better general experience at home watching a DVD, and you start to see theatrical release itself become a thing of the past.

    I, for one, won't mourn the death of the BBM, since most of the movies I've seen over the past decade and a half having such crazy budgets didn't impress me nearly as much as the indie films I've seen, anyway.

  • Where have we come? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RomulusNR (29439) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:18PM (#14861075) Homepage
    when an "indie film" can mean one that had $15M spent on it?

    Clerks' budget was $230K. Yes, _K_. ...Of course, Clerks 2's budget is $5M. Still, that's a bit short of $15M, and Kevin Smith is hardly indie anymore. Not that he or his hardcore fans (or the movie industry) have noticed...

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