Niches: The New “Plastics”

January 11, 2011

Excerpted from Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

“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.

Simply put, a huge segment of film making is indeed in great jeopardy of going the way of eight track tapes.

The survival of new movies is up to us.

The New Plastics: Niches

In the classic 1968 film The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman plays a young man who has just graduated from college. Everyone, of course, wants to tell him what to do with his life so, at a party one night, one of the adults takes Hoffman aside and says: “Benjamin, I’m just going to say one word to you. Plastics.”Certain that he has imparted the secret to future wealth, the man walks away.

If that party occurred today, the word whispered to Benjamin as the key not only to bringing back The Old Hollywood but also to future film business success would have to be “Niches.”

Chasing The Elusive Butterfly

Why niches?

The blockbuster mentality that was ushered in by Jaws in 1975 has taken a heavy toll on those who have chased the elusive butterfly of its promise as though it were indeed The Holy Grail.

Every once in a while, a movie does come along that captures the fancy of the all age groups and tastes. Star Wars, Titanic, The Lord of The Rings films, the Harry Potter films, and Avatar are examples of movies that appealed to all audiences.

These films symbolize the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that has been and continues to be chased by The New Hollywood.

What we don’t hear as much about are the hundreds of movies and billions of dollars that have been lost chasing that same elusive butterfly. For example, both Cutthroat Island and The Adventures of Pluto Nash cost around one hundred million dollars in production alone and neither film grossed even ten million dollars at the box office.

Fueled by their pursuit of mainstream success, studios have made bigger and bigger bets on fewer and fewer films.

The promise of a mainstream blockbuster has caused more filmic shipwrecks than all the seductive sirens ever born.”

Excerpted from Bringing Back The Old Hollywood at

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