New Movies Are An Endangered Species

October 4, 2010

Fade In.
We’re in a family room in the year 2023.
A couple in their mid-fifties are watching one of their favorite films on Turner Classic Movies as their teenage daughter walks in, sits next to them for a moment, and speaks.
“You guys are so cute with your old movies.”
“Thanks, honey,” Mom laughs.
“Can I ask you something?” the daughter responds.
Putting the film on pause, Dad says “Sure. What’s up?”
“It must have been so cool for you guys to have lived during a time when they actually still made new movies every year. What was that like?”
Mom and Dad smile wistfully at each other as Mom responds.
“It was magical. Can you even imagine seeing a brand new film?”
Smiling, the daughter gets up and gives both her parents a hug. “That must have been great. There are only so many old movies you can watch.”
“Yeah, we hear that,” Dad says.
“Too bad that all ended,” their daughter sighs as she walks out.
Mom and Dad look at each and shrug as Dad says:
“Yeah. New movies. Those were the days.”
Fade Out.

Or not.

It’s up to us.

Endangered Species

Is there really a possibility that new films could actually disappear in the next ten to fifteen years?

Yes, that possibility does exist. Beyond the possibility, is it likely?

The studios of The New Hollywood will hopefully continue to make big event, brand name films, and movies targeted to people under thirty. Assuming their financial model does get fixed (and I hope it does), event films like Avatar, Transformers, Twilight, Harry Potter, and any animated movie from the inestimable Pixar, could maintain their places at the multiplex, at least for a while.

Independent films like Sideways that primarily appeal to those over thirty are, however, truly an endangered species.
For independent films, the vital signs are indeed flat lining:
Financing sources have dried up.
Theatrical distribution is so difficult that only one out of every two hundred independently financed films ever play in a theater.
Audiences over thirty are staying home.
Due to rising costs, fewer films, and diminished audiences, independent theaters are closing at an alarming rate.
With little or no theatrical presence, the promise of DVD income for a film has all but disappeared.
With no theatrical or DVD presence, there is almost no chance of selling a film to television.
With no U.S. theatrical or DVD distribution, foreign sales are much more difficult if even at all possible.
If something isn’t done soon, independent films will certainly become extinct and even the bigger films will be facing an uncertain future.
And that’s why we are Bringing Back The Old Hollywood.

(Excerpted from Bringing Back The Old Hollywood, ã 2010 Stephen Simon, available exclusively at www.TheOldHollywood.com.)

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