Can Hollywood save itself?
In 2009, one thing has been clear in regards to Hollywood. The year has sucked. Period. Sure there have been a sprinkling of decent flicks and even a couple wonderful films, but overall the year has been a snore-fest.
One culprit could be a series of films that are recycled bad ideas the industry hopes catches fire this time around. Then you have studios touting their upcoming flicks and again it is a rehashing of old ideas, 80s TV series’ and of course the ever-so-present reboot.
Now Hollywood sets its sights on another fad as being the future of the industry – 3D.
Recently some major players held a 3D summit. That’s right, a summit. Makes it sound official doesn’t it? For those of you who haven’t been keeping score, I’ll do my best to bring you up to speed.
First off, studios think they’re not making enough money. That’s what it boils down to no matter how you look at it. Instead of investing their cash on interesting ideas, they want to throw some new effects on stale ideas and hope they have that “new car scent” the audience loves.
Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke at the summit and noted that “for a small incremental investment, you create huge incremental income possibilities for you. Why every studio isn’t out making three, four, five 3D movies is inexplicable.”
My favorite quote to come out to the talks was from Peter Bart of Variety. He spoke about how the economics of the industry don’t equate anymore and goes on to say something quite interesting.
“There needs to be another big idea. There need to be new revenue streams to save what at this point is somewhat shaky economic structure.”
Does the industry not understand what the hell is wrong with Hollywood? Another big idea? They want to give us gimmicks, yet balk when it comes to thinking outside of the box and giving us a worthwhile experience. Has the world of film been filled with a bunch of cowards? That definitely seems to be the case.
The medium always needs to move forward. I love the use of digital technology and when traditionalists scolded George Lucas when he talked of the future of digital filmmaking, I knew we were in trouble. Now that the technology has been embraced to an extent, people want to be the first to find the next big thing.
The fact is 3D is nothing new. It’s been a format that has languished for decades as something that sounds wonderful, sometimes works, but always falls flat. Why should this time around be any different?
The single aspect of the discussion that really rubs me the wrong way is how some are essentially using scare tactics to achieve a desired result. They speak of how people are not advancing their thinking and that could lead to ruin. They insinuate that those who don’t embrace the technology will be left in the dust.
The main argument for the format is that it will advance the film experience for audiences, but something else has me worried. What has me concerned is how the technology will be used.
While they blather on about the future, what I see is a great opportunity for studios to process classic films though the technology for a small investment, throw them back into theaters and make a bundle. Again, where is the ingenuity? Where are those ideas that have made the art of cinema such a marvel? The sad truth is – they are nowhere to be seen.
Instead of focusing their efforts on musty technologies that offer little more than an initial “Wow,” the industry needs to hand over the reigns to visionaries who know the art of storytelling outweighs the art of layers. They need to either step up or get the hell out of the way.
Think I sound like Chicken Little declaring the heavens are falling? Here’s a challenge: name the truly classic films since 2000. I bet you’ll be hard pressed to get out of single digits.