The 4th Floor's Podcast

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Sustainability in Movies

The world of film is heading for disaster.  More and more there has been a call for new ideas in films.  We hear far too often that a certain movie is just like another movie, or that we didn't need a remake of a certain film.  Yet despite these complaints, the movie audience continues to support these movies.  What cost does this hold for the film market moving forward?  Are we heading for a collapse of the film market similar to the collapse of the video game market in 1980's before Nintendo revolutionized the industry?

At this point finding excitement for upcoming films is hard to follow.  While certain movies peak my interest, most times there will be a trailer for a movie on television to which my response is simply "Wait for Netflix." I could attribute this to a lack of funding for a trip to the theater.  But more often than not, it's a matter of just not having any excitement for a movie.

I could also give credit to my 27 years of watching movies, and not feeling all that surprised by twists in a movie.  But the plain fact is that new movies just don't hold my attention.  I can remember a time when I was a teenager and every movie that came out would excite me.  That excitement would undoubtedly lead to a trip to the movies on a Friday or Saturday night.  Of course in my teenage years the price of a movie for a non matinee trip would cost about 6 to 7 dollars a ticket; gas was cheaper; and I didn't have any bills to pay.

As people get older they demand more from their experiences, we want something unique that we haven't seen before.  Otherwise we're paying 10-15 dollars a ticket for an experience that our monthly cost of Netflix can deliver in 4 to 5 months.  This sense of desiring unique experiences also lends our hand to what we want to buy outside of just film.  You only have to look at gimmick food places to see this in practice.  Cold Stone Creamery offers ice cream just like any other ice cream parlor you can find.  The only difference is that they mix the ice cream with its ingredients on a cold stone for your specific order, hence the Cold Stone Creamery. Despite being nothing more than just ice cream mixed per order, people continue to flock to these parlors because it offers something you can't find elsewhere. You also end up paying more for merely the experience, and not necessarily the product.

Film makers haven't had to set themselves apart from anyone else, because there is still a growing number of teenagers with disposable income who will flock to the movies for the latest film.  At the same time, there is a growing amount of resentment towards the Oscars for nominating films that meet with little commercial success.  These two differing opinions on what makes a good movie is at a need to compromise between the two.  The problem is that most blockbuster movies, don't offer the same kind of deep storytelling that you can find in the Oscar films.  While it is important for movies to make money, what many fail to realize, is that most movies do not make their money in the theater.  The movie only makes a slight percentage on films in the theater, while the majority of money is made on smaller venues, such as airlines.

The problem with the movies, much like anything that needs to be sustained, is a lack of will.  A blockbuster movie is guaranteed to make money in the box office, while a great tale of the human condition might make some news and receive great reviews. If film makers are serious about maintaining an audience of older generations, they need to begin to shake off the stereotypes of blockbusters.  Yes movies are entertainment, but some people don't want to be entertained, we want stories, and you can't get those at the local multiplex.

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