The Laptop Theater

The health of Hollywood is not the same as the health of motion pictures.


The way people talk about the movie business these days, you might expect Hollywood itself to show up in the death montage at next year's Oscar ceremony. Heavily hyped films are fizzling. Online filesharing is cutting into box office receipts. The city's reliance on sequels and remakes has gotten so intense that it is now the conventional wisdom to say the studios are out of ideas.

The conventional wisdom is a little overwrought—surely it means something that one of the most critically and commercially popular films of the year, Toy Story 3, is not just a sequel but a sequel to a sequel—but the larger indictment isn't far off. Hollywood is undeniably in an unhealthy state. But the state of Hollywood should not be confused with the state of motion pictures, just as the state of the dominant record companies should not be confused with the state of American music, the state of the Big Three should not be confused with the state of automobile manufacturing, the state of newspapers should not be confused with the state of journalism, and the state of public schools should not be confused with the state of public knowledge. The last decade has seen movies breaking free of traditional Hollywood shackles and finding new creators, venues, and formats, some of which stretch the conventional conception of what a movie can be.

The number of films produced by U.S. companies has been sliding over the last few years, from 928 in 2006 down to 677 in 2009. The number of films released in American theaters actually increased slightly over part of that period, from 594 in 2006 to 633 in 2008, but in 2009 it descended to 558, the first decline since 2003. These drops are partly a reflection of the recession, and in part they reflect the effects of the Writers Guild strike.

At the same time, though, there was a surge in movies that never made it to standard American theaters at all. The Internet Movie Database reports that 9,591 features were created last year—a number that excludes documentaries, direct-to-video and made-for-TV movies, and a substantial number of the pictures that never got past the festival circuit. In 1999, by contrast, there were just 3,275. That isn't necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, as small and foreign filmmakers today might be more likely to make an effort to get listed in the IMDb. But I doubt such a change in practices would be enough to account for a nearly threefold increase. Over the same time period, meanwhile, the number of documentaries more than doubled. Chris Hyams—chief operating officer of Slated, a New York-based company that does market research for movie producers and distributors—estimates that the number of new features playing at festivals worldwide last year was even higher than the IMDb allows, perhaps as many as 30,000.

And don't forget the movies that aren't feature length. The most important figure here may be the amount of footage uploaded to the Internet, which keeps climbing. YouTube, for example, revealed in March that 24 hours of content were being uploaded to the site every minute, up from 15 hours per minute in the middle of 2008 and six hours per minute in the middle of 2007. There are no reliable figures on how much of that is excerpted without alterations from commercial films or television and how much was created explicitly for the Web. But speaking anecdotally, there seems to have been a sharp increase in both kinds of content. Thanks to YouTube, Vimeo, and similar sites, there's a larger audience than ever before for independently produced motion pictures.

It's a safe bet that most of those movies are mediocre or worse. But as Brian Newman writes in The Wrap, "I never walk into the record store and think there are too many bands out there, too many albums to pick from. Instead, I value the diversity of artists available for my listening pleasure." When the cost of filmmaking falls and more people, in more places, from more social backgrounds, learn to shoot and edit, the results may include an increase in crap, but there will also be an increase in creativity, variety, and verve.

For decades, cineastes bemoaned the death of the short, a form exiled from mainstream theaters and abandoned to the marginal worlds of film schools and film festivals. Now there's a sudden increase not just in the production of shorts but in the size of their audience. Small, bizarre, formula-busting movies can actually become hits, though we don't call them hits; we say they've "gone viral." And if some of those hits involve nothing more profound than a dramatic chipmunk or a well-choreographed wedding march, that merely means the usual art-to-trivia ratio is still in place. At least this trivia is content to deliver its single joke and then end, which is more than can be said for the typical Saturday Night Live movie. (Or, for that matter, the typical Saturday Night Live sketch.)

Moving pictures aren't just getting shorter and simpler. They're getting longer and more complex. American television is arguably in its most creatively rich period ever, and one strand of that richness is the rise of tightly woven, season- or series-long story arcs. Such extended narratives were riskier undertakings in the past, back when it was easier to miss an episode altogether and impossible to hit "rewind" while you were watching. Those aren't problems anymore, thanks to DVDs, DVRs, and online streaming, so executives are willing to embrace more narrative complexity. And with smaller outfits such as HBO in the TV production business, those executives are ever more willing to serve niche audiences as well. Not every long-term story arc is actually good, of course, but that's true of traditional films and TV shows as well; the important point is that masterpieces like The Wire, a 60-hour megamovie released in weekly installments, are now possible at all.

It is also now possible to gorge on such shows in a handful of sittings, and to do so on the same devices we use to watch YouTube shorts and mainstream features. That's one of the reasons I'm comfortable discussing all three categories as though they represent the same art. They're all moving pictures; it's just that more and more of them aren't limited to the constraint of being "feature length."

One last thought about those sequels and remakes. Are they really more likely to be lousy than other movies? Most films are based on well-worn plot formulas and character types, even if they don't explicitly borrow a story or a character from an earlier picture. I suspect that sequels and remakes aren't worse than other releases so much as we're much more likely to resent them when they fail, lest they stain our memories of the originals.

But that resentment hasn't been a problem for online shorts, a great deal of which consist of remixes, mash-ups, parody trailers, and other reimaginings of well-known movies. No one mistakes the ASCII version of Star Wars for an official Star Wars product, so even if you dislike it the Star Wars brand name won't suffer any damage. (The prequels, on the other hand…) When it comes to making something new out of something old, the termite artists in the YouTube hive have a better track record than the studios that actually own the rights to the material.

"Film," Jean Cocteau once said, "will only become art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper." I don't know if we'll ever literally reach that day, but if nothing else we've come to the point when the pencil-and-paper wing of filmmaking can make far more artful use of the same raw materials that fuel the established movie studios. If that's a sign of decline in Hollywood, it's also an indication that there's no shortage of creative energy in the culture at large.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).

NEXT: A Very Reason Fourth of July

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  1. Things like The Wire and The Sopranos or Breaking Bad are really just the perfection of the old Saturday afternoon serials. Artistic talent flows like water. It goes wherever it can find a home. When an organization becomes unreceptive to it, it moves somewhere that does.

    In many ways Big Hollywood is very unreceptive to artistic talent. It takes millions to fund a movie. And movie executives are loath to fund anything that is not a proven formula. So the talented writers and artists have gone elsewhere.

    Yeah, the Wire is a megamovie. But it also could have been a three hour epic and kick ass movie. But no way would it have ever gotten funding.

    1. And Dexter is the epitome of that perfection

    2. “And movie executives are loath to fund anything that is not a proven formula.”

      Which is why you get 80 proof shit that is “Grown Ups.” I deserve to die for watching that.

    3. What is this “The Wire” of which you speak? Is int anything like the insulated copper wire i have for….well, fuck whats its for, you dont need to know!

      1. Show set in Baltimore chronicling the narcotics department of Baltimore PD, the heroin trade of the inner-city, the stevedore (dockworker) union, the public school problems, the local newspaper’s troubles, and all sorts of corruption and crime sprinkled liberally. One of the best shows I’ve ever had the great fortune to watch.

  2. Online filesharing theft is cutting into box office receipts.

    1. Then they must have been filesharing since the 80s.

    2. Copyright infringement is not theft, hell most of the time it’s not even criminal! Note the difference between ?501 and ?506. Intellectual property as a concept is a perversion of the free market, it’s a government granted monopoly. Something I think most libertarians would be against!

      1. Saying “Intellectual property is a perversion of the free market” is like saying private property is a perversion of the free market, as it’s a government granted monopoly.

        Don’t make stuff up just because you want to download stuff for free.

        1. The technology to deliver movies and other video programs on demand, for cheap, has existed for a long time. There is even Netflix, which will use old-school postal delivery to rent you DVDs. I subscribe to Netflix and Comcast cable, so very probably, in effect, pay multiple times for the content I view, however I obtain it. The fact that I can’t get ALL my content on DVD via Netflix, or On Demand via Comcast as part of the normal (exorbitant!) cable fee, is not a (dys)function of technology, but rather a function of greed on the part of what I’m going to call the “Hollywood Establishment,” in the full realization that this goes way beyond Hollywood.

          Right now, when you want to obtain a program to watch, it’s as if, during the heyday of recorded popular music, you had to go to one store for Beatles records, another store for Bach, another store for Herb Alpert and the TJB (or for Capitol, Columbia, or A&M releases, respectively), and so forth. We need an online supermarket of audio-video, where individual item prices are very low, or access to individual items is covered by a reasonable blanket subscription fee. If the owners of intellectual property want many more people to pay for content, they really need to make purchases and payment easier and more reasonable. On Demand has a piece of the puzzle. So does Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, and Hulu. For the good of the industry, those and other involved parties had better put the puzzle together and start providing the public with the integrated, reasonably priced service that we need and want. Too much greed will just cause everyone more grief.

          1. I agree with this on principle but if only one place had said method of distrubution, they could control the price. Hense the problem. There almost needs to be many multiple sources carrying the same product which will create a market. But even that runs the risk of turning into a cartel.

        2. Private property has existed before and would continue to exist without government intervention. Intellectual property only exists because of government regulation. This is because private property ownership is the best method for allocating a scarce resource. Intellectual property is a way to attempt to make a non-scarce resource scarce. Not only that it violates our rights to speech and our private property rights. In the past we gave up some of those rights to encourage others to create and share, but now that artistic creation and sharing have gotten so cheap and easy is this trade off still worth well? This article highlights that despite how easy it has gotten to “violate” others’ intellectual property rights we have more movies being created than ever! I’d say the time has come to end the rent-seeking monopolistic bureaucracy that is intellectual property rights.

          BTW this has nothing to do with downloading stuff for free, anybody can do so now if they want to with little repercussions, it has everything to do with our culture being locked up and technology advances being regulated away. Though that’s a nice straw man.

        3. Jack, can’t you discern between physical private property and “intellectual property”? It seems you can’t. A person has a right to their property, to a idea that is open for debate. I think intellectual property retards progress and innovation. However it is different if I own a house, a car etc. That is physical property and can be dealt with in the confines of the law. So being against IP isn’t free market, your position is. Read the law a little closer buddy.

        4. I disagree, as far as I am concerned, if something does not have mass, it cannot be owned. You or someone may own a physical book/cd/hard-drive/etc, but can an arrangement of numbers, letters, and sounds really be owned? I think not.

      2. Intellectual property as a concept is a perversion of the free market,

        The corporate ball licking liberal-tarians here, want to string up anyone that acknowledges that truth.

  3. How does M. Knight Shamalayan get to keep making movies?

    1. $280M in production costs alone. Brutal.

    2. Because production companies are incredibly stupid and say to themselves “this will be another Sixth Sense. It has to be!”

    3. I liked Avatar the last Airbender. (saw it with my kids). It wasn’t awesome or anything, but it was just what it was supposed to be: a Kung-Fu movie with magic and shit.

      EmKnightShamalamadingdong just needed to get over his suspense/surprise ending scctick and make a regular movie.

  4. Vancouver became the New Hollywood a long time ago.

    1. [citation needed]

      1. Do your own research. Start by checking out the end credits to your favorite movies and TV shows for the past thirty years. It isn’t just that BC offers great locations for shooting. The whole international infrastructure is in Vancouver, in ways you don’t find in New York, Prague, Toronto, or other places where vinema and video “get done.” And to Malone, I realize that the money and power likes to stay in Hollywood, but hell man, yesterday was July 4th. Surely the story of colonies who outgrew their abusive parent country and attained independence is not lost on you. Hollywood needs Vancouver more than Vancouver needs Hollywood, is all I’m sayin’.

    2. Vancouver is one of the primary locations for filming now – as are Prague & Toronto – but all the production offices are still right here in “my” town.

      1. There also some small filming in Montreal, Chicago and…Detroit with Gran Torino and an upcoming movie called The Double.

  5. The best movie I’ve seen in the last ten years was Moon by Duncan Jones.

    It was made for $5 million and barely used any CGI at all. Hollywood needs to remember that good acting, a quality script and a director who knows how to engage the viewer and make them think is all you need to put together a great film.

    1. Also, The guy from RedletterMedia (who did the hilarious Star Wars Prequels critiques) did a review of Avatar and explained in that review so much about what’s wrong with Hollywood today.

      1. We should give him $100 million to make a movie.

        1. No doubt. This dude is the funniest critic I’ve ever heard by far. And he does such a good job of deconstructing the movie he’s reviewing while he makes you laugh. The Avatar review is especially educational. I never realized that Cameron wisely released both Titanic and Avatar a week before Christmas, thus guaranteeing he had no blockbuster competition to deal with as they do during the summer.

          1. He’s a funny critic and a talented filmmaker. There’s a real art to making those video reviews.

            1. There’s a real art to making those video reviews.

              The Frito Pendejo narration is sublime.

          2. Does he make the same comment about LOTR and Hairy Pooter?

      2. That was beautiful, thanks! Loved the ending:

        And lastly, for those of you suffering from depression because Pandora is not a real place, you need to really get your fucking head out of your ass. You’ve been played by a Hollywood snake-oil salesman for the cash in your wallet, you fools. Take your Prozac and get back in the tollbooth. Hey do you think James Cameron is going to donate the huge profits made from the technological advancements of this film to some beautiful indigenous African tribe? Yeah, probably not. And only watch this movie once. For fuck’s sake, do you want them to make more?

        1. It’s like video poetry. Glad u enjoyed it.

      3. Thanks for that link! I think his review of the Star Wars prequels was more enjoyable than actually watching them.

    2. I hear that is good but haven’t seen it. Most of the good movies I have seen in the last 10 years have come from Europe. I am anything but some Euro art film about gay cowboys kind of movie fan. But the movies out of Europe in the 00s were just better than much of the crap that came out of Hollywood.

      1. Most European films aren’t art films. They have suspense thrillers, psychological thrillers

      2. …as well as horror films, dramas, etc. etc.

        1. And awesome action flicks – Taken.

          1. That was a great flick.

        2. [Rec]: Spanish zombie movie!
          Banlieue 13: One of the best action movies ever.

    3. Moon was pretty much just a hard SF short story on film. That’s actually pretty unusual, since most “based on a (often Phillip K. Dick) short story” movies are completely different from the short story and altered to feel like a movie.

      Still, at the same time I sort of felt like I’d rather just read the short story.

      1. I bet the story would be a great read, but then you wouldn’t get Sam Rockwell’s amazing performance or Kevin Spacey’s perfect robot voice-overs.

        Rockwell got screwed by the Academy this year because he put up the best acting performance I’ve seen in years.

        1. Oh, I agree. And Kevin Spacey, as noted below, was amazing at playing a robot.

    4. I also liked Moon, for many of the same reasons I liked “Blade Runner.” In some ways, I think the lack of special effects brought us the best parts of the movie. Instead of even a televised human face, as we got as long ago as Red Dwarf, Spacey’s robot character just had the restricted range of expression possible with a smiley-face and his tightly-controlled HAL-like voice. That was genius, and you can’t really buy that kind of thing.

      1. Love Red Dwarf!

    5. Did you know Duncan Jones used to be known as Zowie Bowie? He’s the son of David Bowie.

  6. Which appears to be a worse movie Knight and Day or Salt? With the exception of Toy Story 3, which was cute but not as good as the first two, every movie this summer has been a steaming pile of crap. This has to be the worst summer of movies in my lifetime.

    1. Hot Tub Time Machine was awesome.

      1. That looked okay. Definitely a get drunk of a Friday night renter. But that is the best you can do?

        1. It’s the least pretentious movie I’ve seen in years. Absolutely zero moral of the story moments, and tons of people behaving ethically challenged and morally deranged. And the ending is just as ridiculous as the premise of the movie which was perfectly satisfying.

    2. Summer is 10 days old, John. Patience.

      Sorcerer’s Apprentice might be all right. And you can’t go wrong with a Chris Nolan movie, so Inception is going to be awesome until proven otherwise.

      1. It’s a dream, no it’s real, no it’s a dream, no it’s real… yeah Inception is going to be a ‘mindblowing’ but only in a single sheet of Kleenex sorta way.

        Nolan is so overrated, Batman sucked, it’s some guy whining about how hard it is to be be Batman the whole time. I guess depth for Nolan is having a character complain about what he’s doing, and eat up most of the screen time. The character chose to fight crime in a stupid Halloween costume, then all he does is bitch about having to wear his Halloween costume and fight crime.

        Even the Joker couldn’t take it anymore and finally took the easy way out.

        1. I guess this proves that not everyone views the world the same. Much to Hollywood Studios chagrin.

  7. Most of the good movies I’ve seen lately have been porn.

    1. At least that shit’s honest about being dishonest and has no moral pretensions.

  8. My girlfriend and I went to the movies twice last summer (Harry Potter and Star Trek). Two tickets, one modest diet soda, one pretzel bites package. Cost? $26 each time. $52 total.

    They just put a Redbox three blocks from her apartment. Two movies, two six packs of quality beer. Cost? $1 apiece rental, $8 per six-pack. $18 total.

    Golly, whatever could be happening?

    1. Plus no crying babies, cellphone and other talkers, and you can hit pause to go to the bathroom.

      1. My for year old has been raised on a steady diet of DVD’s, with all of the flexibility that allows. We went to see the latest Chipmunks movie. When he got up to go to the bathroom he was really mad that they wouldn’t pause the film for him.

        1. Ha! Kids say the darnedest things. A few years ago I made a little garden border out of some junk LPs, and a neighbor girl asked her mother about the “black CDs.”

      2. Or bringing your own food in!

    2. It’s been years since I’ve spent more than $7 per person at the movies.

      It’s called “going to the early show” and “not eating at the theater”. You might want to look into it.

  9. Let’s see. For about the price of one theater ticket I get 1-at-a-time DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming of an ever-increasing number of movies with Netflix. On top of that I have my choice of regularly-priced popcorn and beer, front row parking, no traffic, the show starts when I’m ready, comfier seating, better surround sound, perfect view and distance from the screen, can get drunk and yell at the movie all I want, don’t have to hear other people’s stupid comments, hear their cell phones ring, or their babies cry. Why on earth does Hollywood think I would ever go to a theater? On top of that, if I can re-rent the move whenever I want, why on earth would I ever buy a DVD?

    I’m looking forward to watching Hollywood and the cable companies fall. Most the major networks have already made at least a partial move to online content. I’d gladly pay for HBO online, but screw cable.

    1. Well, I suppose people might go to a theater if they could rent it for a modest fee and then play whatever movie they wanted for all of their pals for a party or something. There’s something to be said for the entertainment value of showing stuff on the big screen. Having that big of a screen also encourages buying the high quality DVD since it otherwise makes every compression artifact in lower quality videos painfully easy to see.

      That’ll never happen, though, unless Hollywood loosens its copyright restrictions to allow for it. The theaters are getting squeezed harder than Hollywood itself is because they’re not allowed to branch out like that and give the customers what they want. (One exception: some theaters are starting to rent themselves out for TV events like the Super Bowl these days.)

      1. That’s a cool idea, as long as they serve alcohol.

        1. Uh, the way the law is in most places, I think it’d have to be strictly BYOB.

      2. Jeff, your home surround system, can’t compare. You’re missing about 10 channels of content and direction. Most DVDs are mixed terribly in surround, cheesing out with a stupid formula that puts most dialog on the center channel, and summing all lower frequencies from all channels into one ‘subwoofer’ that they try to tell you is ‘multi-directional’. Even if you’ve got full range speakers with 15″s in them on all channels and a room large enough (60×40) to benefit from the low frequencies, you’re still settling for a dismal ghost of what true ‘surround sound’ is.

        Lazy is a fine excuse to not go out, and there are a lot of electronic manufacturers that will help you say ‘lazy’ with a bunch of bullshit ‘audiophile’ mysticism, but you should at least try to be honest with yourself.

        1. I just have a TV and a DVD player. That is more than sufficient for most Hollywood output. Some things, however, I want to see on the big screen. Good to know that even if I got off my ass and tried to put together a home theater system, it still wouldn’t compare. Now I don’t have to try.

        2. Until the theater figures out a way to make everyone else be quiet, the sound in my house is much better.

          Also, those 10 channels mean nothing unless you show up 30 minutes early to get a seat in the center of the theater.

  10. Let’s get Neil Hamburger into the next Batman film as The Riddler:…..5277279042

  11. Hollywood has always been bereft of ideas. I post on the TCM boards, and fairly regularly there’s one or another poster shrieking about how terrible it is that Hollywood is going to be remaking some classic movie.

    Every single time, I point out that Ricardo Cortez was the ultimate Sam Spade. It’s amazing how many of the film buffs don’t get the point.

    1. I hear you. An earlier draft of the article made the point that it took three tries to get The Maltese Falcon right.

      1. The Wizard of Oz took four tries to get right, if you include an animated attempt.

      2. Wow, I hope that didn’t come off as dickish one-upsmanship. It was meant as corroboration.

  12. Anyone who thinks that foreign ==> good needs to watch a Bollywood flick all the way through. If you haven’t gnawed your ears off by the end, you’re a better man than I.

    1. Bollywood isn’t necessarily bad; it’s just radically different. I will admit, however, that I’m generally not a fan of musicals.

      My candidate for foreign != good that doesn’t have a bunch of singing would be The Damned (1969).

      1. There are some decent Indian musicals, such as Lagaan. (In general, I don’t like musicals either.) But most are cookie-cutter crap, mass produced the way Hollywood did it in the 1940’s. Not to mention shameless product placement.

        Here is the plot of roughly half of Bollywood musicals: the ungrateful son of hard working parents (who scrimped their whole lives to provide him with an education) gets a good job in the city, and prefers to revel in his new found wealth rather than repay his parents. Only when one parent comes close to dying does the son realize the true value of family, and pay for the life saving cure.

        1. You really should put a spoiler warning on that for all the people who haven’t seen Bollywood movies yet.

          1. Sorry, Tulpa. My bad.

        2. Second Asian movie plot: Nice young girl marries into family where mother in law is evil bitch. Life is horrible for new daughter in law since the mother in law is constantly on her case. Eventually mother in law becomes seriously ill and daughter in law steps in to save her life. All live happily thereafter. In Indian films the cast breaks into song periodically, even after someone dies. Chinese and Japanese films have the same plot but without the song and dance numbers.

    2. This is true. I’m impressed that you could make it to the end. I’d have to be strapped in like Alex in A Clockwork Orange to sit through an entire Bollywood musical. Satyajit Ray is another story.

      1. I liked those Indian lesbians in…well, I forget the name, but not the women!

  13. American television is arguably in its most creatively rich period ever, and one strand of that richness is the rise of tightly woven, season- or series-long story arcs. Such extended narratives were riskier undertakings in the past, back when it was easier to miss an episode altogether and impossible to hit “rewind” while you were watching.

    Thank Joss Whedon for that.

    1. I still refuse to forgive him for Dollhouse.

    2. I was thinking more JJ Abrams, since Whedon’s recent offerings have barely lasted a season.

      Not that I like that impulse; I hate Abrams’ piling of nonsensical plot twists on top of one another to the point where there’s no way they can ever be untangled. What he did to Star Trek may never be forgiven.

    3. Are you talking about Firefly? Because most of what people were experiencing was a combination of acne medicine stinging their eyes and crystal meth.

      It’s like someone said… “If only Harlequin romance novels made a sci-fi TV show… with sub-par character and set design!”

      1. Hot, queer men and women, violence, cool technology: it’s the shotgun effect.

  14. You silly people!!!

    Movies don’t get made because they are good movies….

    Movies get made because somebody is making money on making them … no matter how they are made.

    Good or bad – it doesn’t matter to Hollywood.

    It’s all about how much you can make BEFORE it hits the screen – not afterward. (And then if it does well afterward, you come out looking like a genius too)

    But the real point was the money you made in making it before it hit the screen, that’s what people here admire you for … (and not in the money it made or loss after it got made).

    That’s the way the system works like it or not.

    Only the truth will change that …



  15. I suspect that sequels and remakes aren’t worse than other releases so much as we’re much more likely to resent them when they fail, lest they stain our memories of the originals.

    That’s part of it, and there’s also the fact that a sequel is usually rushed through production because they want to release it before the name recognition of the original wears off, and the studio knows they don’t have to create a positive critical buzz before release to have a big opening weekend. For example, there is no way that Men In Black 2 gets released in the state that it was in if it hadn’t been a sequel to a blockbuster.

    So, it’s not so much that sequels are inherently worse than originals, just that bad sequels are much more likely to be released than bad originals.

    1. The way Hollywood invests in creating entertainment has changed dramatically.

      Before there was competition between actual original scripts and concepts between the studios. Now competition is only between acquiring well-tred franchises and barrel-scraping of already used material. It’s a great way to save development costs, but over time the well runs dry, and becomes an example of the law of diminishing returns. The same thing already happened in the music biz. Worse… you lose the people who can recognize talent and the expertise of developing it.

      For example, today studios want a writer to have a minimum 6-10 scripts before they even start to play footsie. Its all about quantity, a ridiculous concept in creating art. A good script is a rarity, and there’s almost nobody with 1 good one, much less 6 of them.

      1. …but over time the well runs dry, and becomes an example of the law of diminishing returns. The same thing already happened in the music biz. Worse… you lose the people who can recognize talent and the expertise of developing it.

        This is a much better explanation of the pathetic state of the recording industry than filesharing.

      2. I agree.
        “At the same time, though, there was a surge in movies that never made it to standard American theaters at all. The Internet Movie Database reports that 9,591 features were created last year?a number that excludes documentaries, direct-to-video and made-for-TV movies, and a substantial number of the pictures that never got past the festival circuit. In 1999, by contrast, there were just 3,275.”

        But for real movie lovers, the choices are ever expanding. The great expense of movies – simply the cost of film, distribution, etcetera is collapsing. Great Korean, Iranian, Spanish, Japanese movies are now available. internet word of mouth groups helping overlooked but great movies get an audience.
        This is truly the golden age of movies.

  16. If you went to see Star Trek, you got what you deserved.

    1. Even then, it was a pathetic, impotent attempt at anal rape.

      At least if you drop the soap around George Lucas, he has the decency to attempt a full prison shower gang bang.

      JJ Abrams version of violation, is pointing at unsharpened pencil at your orifice from across the room and saying ‘ooh baby, if only I had testicles’.

  17. You’re regressing and have lost the excitement in your relationship?

    Soon you’ll be watching primetime sitcoms, those are even cheaper and don[‘t requre you to move.

    Maybe go out once in a while… you’re puny home theater system can’t compare with a real theater. At best you get a 5.1 audio system (6.1, 7.1 if you count redundant slightly-out-of phase preamp tricks on the same 5.1 source) compared to the true multi-channel audio systems at the movies. Also pretty hard to argue with a screen that’s taller than your house. I know there are a lot of horrible socially deficient types, but you become one by sitting at home alone in your cave too.

    There are also other things you can enjoy with your date while out… walking for starters… might even do something else while you’re out.

    1. So…sitting next to a bunch of strangers in a movie theatre is somehow more socially active? LOL.

  18. Just keep McG out of the picture and I’ll be satisfied.

  19. My suspicion is that Hollywood is cursed by the same problems that killed live theater, specifically, escalating production costs. The rise in production costs leads investors and production firms to be less diversified. As a result, they become systematically more risk averse in their output: leveraging known franchises, featuring known box office draws (70-year-old action movie stars?), and focusing on more formulaic fare. While artistically dreck, the resulting output is financially quite stable.

  20. Intellectual property as a concept is a perversion of the free market, it’s a government granted monopoly.

    Props to the commentariat for not being jacked.

    I used to love Hollywood summer blockbusters, but looking back over the last several years,

    (1) The majority of movies I have seen in theaters have been animated,

    (2) The (bare) majority of movies I have seen in at home have been foreign.

    (3) I have seen very few summer blockbusters in any setting.

    I have a nice 50″ LCD and a good (but not quite stupidly pretentious) surround sound system at home. It is more than adequate for an involving movie experience. Anyone nattering on about compressed pre-amp 7.1 fake channels or whatever needs to get a grip.

  21. One more thing:

    While much talent has undoubtedly been diverted to TV, I wonder if even more hasn’t been diverted to video games. For all their shortcomings in scripting and what-not, the level of visual and design talent can be pretty astonishing.

  22. What I like about DVD’s is that you get English subtitles for the Scottish movies (unfortunately, they didn’t have subtitles for Movern Callar – but she probably wasn’t saying anything so profound) It also helped with the Downey Sherlock Holmes movie, as I couldn’t understand what he was saying no matter how high I cranked the sound.

  23. The way people talk about the movie business these days, you might expect Hollywood itself to

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