Academy Row Media

Enduring Love Of Movies

Enduring Love Of Movies

People love the movies. Barbie and Oppenheimer have shown that audiences still have a profound curiosity for what goes on the big screen. There, though in our society, is a pollution of choice. If you take a look at the choices we had or our parents had available we begin to understand a bit why there are inherent challenges … .Now the audience should be the final arbiter of what is good and what is bad, often the audience is being usurped by rampant egoism.  Online reviewers often present convoluted opinions which, if you pay attention to them, are contrary to market development and the growth of cinema.

 I am asking the question, who is looking out for cinema? Who is preserving and holding the sacred tradition of storytelling? I am getting concerned that even in these heady days of substantive box office, a lot of the behind the scenes machinations are going to create a further erosion of the tradition of cinema.

The WGA and the SAG strike could not have come at a worse time for both exhibition and streaming. These strikes are creating a real issue for studios, a Solomon like decision that is weighing the impact of the strike to not having to expend funds for production. Again, the reporting it is doing for Wall Street will show enhanced cash reserves. The longer the strikes, the bigger the cash reserves. At one time it was said that content was King, the simple fact after COVID hit, the slogan that made the greatest impact within the hall of the studios was that Cash was the new king. The longer the strike the better the profit picture.

 The analyst firm Moffett Nathanson estimated that total content spend in 2022 was a whopping $135 billion. Not in 2023; there is going to be a ton of money sitting idle. That excites Wall Street. On July 19th Netflix reported its quarterly earnings. The company prior to the strikes had told their investor base and analysts to expect that their free cash flow would be about $3.5 billion. Thanks to the two strikes, it raised that figure to more than $5 billion.

 Warner Bros. Discovery Inc. touted that it had saved $100 million on production costs in the second quarter. That will grow into hundreds of millions if the strikes continue to the end of the year. Disney said Wednesday the strikes will contribute to a projected $3 billion reduction in film and TV production costs this year.

Again this is further evidence that we really do not have a firm grasp of the rules modern Hollywood is playing by. What is black is now white and what was white is now black. It’s more than confusing for the layman.  Now again Wall Street has limited ability to see past 90 days, or by the issuance of 10q’s, quarter reports that public companies have to issue. As a result, the studios chortle in public that they are cash rich.

 Paramount’s Head Honcho, Bob Bakish didn’t put a specific number on what his studio was saving. He made statements to his investor base that Paramount was in “pretty good shape”. He alluded to having enough content well into the months ahead.

 As the strikers walk the picket line, the equipment vendors, studio operators, rental houses, and prop and wardrobe houses are all dying on the vine. After the decimation of COVID a history making strike like this is devastating multiple sectors of the motion picture and television industry.

 The Los Angeles level of production has already been in a deep decline. Compared to last year there were 29% fewer productions taking place in Los Angeles. This is the sixth year in a row where this decline has occurred. The agency which promotes Los Angeles based filmmaking FilmLA has its employees being moved from salary to hourly and have forced them to take a 20% reduction in hours.

Media companies left and right are terminating their leases. Warner Brothers is now subleasing some of its space. The bankruptcy count is on the rise. It’s not good.

 I think that increasingly audiences are growing weary of Hollywood. The glow has diminished, the idea of stars is rapidly failing and there is the rise of the social media influencer is eclipsing any star system that might remain.

 The release dates of movies are being scrambled about. The next Ghostbusters moved from a Christmas release to an Easter release. Christmas this year is looking increasingly bleak.

 At the end of the day, there is still the potential for a very vital and dynamic movie going culture and business. Theaters are still machines for entertainment. In the end though it is becoming obvious that the mechanics of the Hollywood studio are failing and failing badly. Song of Freedom is an example of a product coming outside the traditional Hollywood system. Based in Provo Utah, Angel Studios are showing what can be achieved by appealing to a defined audience. 

 Often in the past alternatives to Hollywood have risen in Utah, Doty Dayton Productions and Sunn Classic just to name two.

 Something has to change and change soon, moviegoing has to endure.

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