Interesting comments recently from Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, both of whom predict that the film industry will ‘implode’.
It’s a surprise to hear this from either of these two given how both have made their names from the big screen. It’s a little less surprising from Lucas however who seems to get a bit bitter in the talk.
Lucas, lets not forget, is the man who brought us Jar Jar Binks, possibly one of the worst characters of the big screen in recent times, as well as Red Tails, possibly one of the worst movies of recent times.
Lucas said: “We’re talking Lincoln and Red Tails – we barely got them into theatres, you’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movie into a theatre!”
So is he saying a movie should get in theatres just because of who’s behind it? Frankly I’d have preferred it if Red Tails had never made it to the cinema given it was an absolute pile of dross. The movie scored just 39% on Rotten Tomatoes, so it wasn’t just me. It was also described as: “jingoistic, corny, über-patriotic and old-fashioned”, not by some film critic but by George Lucas himself! So his comments are all the more strange.
The basics of what the two were saying was that, in their future, you won’t have anywhere near as many movies in the theatres as you do now. Instead you’ll pay $150 a ticket and the movies will stay on for months and months. In other words they are predicting that cinema will turn into stage.
This echoes the recent decision by Steven Soderbergh who said he doesn’t expect to work in cinema again citing how badly directors are treated.
“It’s become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly” said Soderbergh. “It’s not just studios – it’s who is financing a film. I guess I don’t understand the assumption that the director is presumptively wrong about what the audience wants or needs when they are the first audience, in a way. And probably got into making movies because of being in that audience.”
Speilberg apparently struggled to get Lincoln in the theatres saying it came very close to being premiered on HBO rather than in cinemas. This was what happened with Soderbergh’s current release Behind the Candelabra in the US, although that could have been because it was ‘too gay’ according to some reports.
However, let’s put this in some kind of perspective shall we. So called ‘big name’ directors have always had to work for studios usually doing one movie for the studio, some bums on seats actioner for example, and then one for themselves. Spielberg paid his dues early on and has recently been able to make movies that are close to his heart such as; Saving Private Ryan, Schindlers List, War Horse, Munich etc, etc. Is it surprising that he struggled to get Lincoln in the theatres? Yes and no. Yes because it’s a good film, superbly acted and no because it’s about Abraham Lincoln and won’t play well outside of the US.
As for Soderbergh’s Behind The Candelabra, Liberace did do a European tour and a few movies but mainly made his name in the US and performed in Vegas for large parts of his career.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a shame that this is happening. I think it’s awful that the studios have quite so much power over what gets made and what doesn’t, that all they’re interested in is profit. But, then again, they are a business. They are there to make money. If Spielberg really did want to distribute any film he made I’m sure he could put his hand in his pocket and use some of the reported $3 billion he’s worth to create his own studio, oh wait he did, Dreamworks, and then sold it again.
And so here’s the rub: both Spielberg and Lucas have had their own studios and then sold them again and both are reportedly worth billions of dollars. So rather than complaining about the studios who made them rich and gave them the opportunity to make the movies that made their names, perhaps they should create their own studio again?
I can’t be surprised that, given the current economic market, given that piracy is so rife, that studios and the people who put their hands in their pockets to finance films are being so careful and worried with their money.
In my day job I’m a project manager and it would be lovely if clients just gave me their hard-earned cash and let me get on with building them what they want. But you know what? They don’t. It’s their money, I’m working for them and they want to ensure that I do my job and they get their moneys worth. If I gave someone five million dollars to make a movie, I’d want to ensure the same thing.