The Proof That Movies Won't Get Made Any More Is That… More Movies Are Being Made Today

from the consistency-is-all-I-ask dept

The Hollywood Reporter recently had an article which is pretty much all doom and gloom about the movie industry, based on a conference at USC about the “Entertainment Law and Business.” Seeing as it’s an LA event, it’s not surprising that much of the story took the typical Hollywood line about how terrible things are these days. But what’s amazing is that it seems to treat the success stories as if they’re failures. It quotes YouTube star Sam Tsui, who points out that “you can’t become complacent as a content creator — you need to do new, exciting stuff” and turns that into the complaint that artists have to spend all their time running “to keep in the same place.” Most of us call that “a job.”

But the really stunning bit is that right after three paragraphs moaning about the state of the indie film business today, there’s this:

Even when the indy news is good, it isn’t: Wilson said she saw more films on offer at the Cannes Film Market in May than she’d seen in a decade. That bountiful crop translates to an oversupply of product, a point Zimmer emphasized when he noted that there are only three key buyers of arthouse product remaining, Focus, Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company.

Er. Wait. That is good news. More films at Cannes than in a decade? Seems like lots of people are still making movies, and still have tremendous incentive to create, even if some of the old guard haven’t quite figured out the business model just yet. Even more hilarious is the “explanation” for this “oversupply”:

Panelists spoke ominously of films getting made “that shouldn’t have gotten made.”

Remember, these are basically the same people who are complaining all the time that movies won’t get made if they don’t get extra special protections. These are the same folks who say that the film business is collapsing and it’s all a disaster. And then… when the evidence to the contrary is shown — with more movies showing up at Cannes than any year in a decade — that too is suddenly incorporated into the “disaster narrative” even though it goes directly against their claims. So, apparently, the movie business is collapsing and movies won’t get made any more, and the evidence of this is that a ton of new movies got made last year.

Filed Under: , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “The Proof That Movies Won't Get Made Any More Is That… More Movies Are Being Made Today”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
DannyB (profile) says:

Panelists spoke ominously of films getting made “that shouldn’t have gotten made.”

That’s the same horrible thing that is happening with open source! Software is being written that should not be written.

And self publishing of e-books. Books are being written that should not be written!

And independent thought! Thoughts are being thunk that should not be thought.

The human tragedy of all this cannot be underestimated. Not to mention how bad it is for the economy, and jobs. And think of the children! Congress must make the Whole World do something!

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

I know you’re jesting, but seriously…how bad is it for the economy?

I know someone who is pretty good at singing. She does it as a hobby. Back before globalization, she probably could have made a career singing locally. But in a globalized society where anyone can hear the very best singers throughout the world, there is very little chance for her to succeed.

I’m sure these large movie conglomerates do the same thing, to a certain degree. They prevent local artists from being able to compete because their movies “shouldn’t have gotten made” in a globalized society.

Personally, I think they’ve got another thing coming. It’s happening in the background, and it’s not often talked about, but I see society beginning to thirst for independent artists. It’s part fighting against the man, but another part is that people can detect the lack of authenticity present in the entertainment industry. It’s not that they want big media to go away, they just want a small media to coexist with it.

Eponymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Umm, there’s a huge difference between “anyone can hear the best singers throughout the world” and “anyone can see, in person, a live performance by the best singers in the world”.

As someone who is also pretty good at singing, I can attest that globalization has had zero net-effect on my ability to make a solid part-time job out of local gigs. I’ve never heard any of my musician friends bemoaning the sharp decline in performance opportunities due to the wider online availability of music, and I personally think it’s a boon to the local artist, as sub-genres and musical niches have become more recognized as people branch out through freely available music.

People at shows around here know and appreciate rockabilly and newgrass much more than they did ten years ago, mainly because they can listen to and learn about them via free, widely available content.

Movie studios are just flat-pissed that they no longer have the only key to the content distribution door, or that those dirty, dirty pirates have gone and installed a side door or two without their blessing.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I think some people misinterpreted my post. I’ll respond to you, but my response applies pretty much to everyone else.

Note that I said career. You have a “solid part time job” – that’s not a career. And I’m not necessarily saying “online availability”, although the Internet has in some ways made it even harder to stand out.

And I myself even admit that this is changing. The Internet is simultaneously showing everyone the higher global skill ceiling *and* lowering the barriers to entry for local artists by circumventing gatekeepers who control distribution. I totally agree that there is a resurgence of “grassroots” style local artists and that people appreciate the authenticity and interaction that global artists often lack.

This is what we’re seeing now with “that movie shouldn’t have been made”. Sure, a big production house would have laughed the director out the door, but that’s the point – for almost a century and up until this most recent decade, your chances of success depended on those global gatekeepers selecting you.

Can you deny that on a global stage, it is more difficult to stand out than on a purely local stage? That people today will compare local artists to their global counterparts, which was just not the case a hundred years ago? In a different era and with some practice this hobby could have been a career for her, but economically (i.e. comparative advantage) it makes more sense for her to apply her skills to something else that is more productive for a global society.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“But in a globalized society where anyone can hear the very best singers throughout the world, there is very little chance for her to succeed.”

It depends on how you define the words “best” and “succeed”. You’ve already identified one way in which she can differentiate herself (the local market), and the markets for recorded music and live music can be very different. It just depends on what the actual market for music is where you live.

There’s also a good market for interesting singers who don’t fit the homogenized, autotuned mould that the major labels tend to push. As long she’s good and she’s not trying to make millions, there’s no reason why she can’t succeed as she could have done in the past (bearing in mind that most singers in past eras still had to keep a day job). It’s hard work and can be particularly unglamorous, but it’s certainly possible.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Back before globalization, she probably could have made a career singing locally. But in a globalized society where anyone can hear the very best singers throughout the world, there is very little chance for her to succeed.

Baloney. Regardless of her singing ability, she has a better chance of success now than ever before — if you define “success” as “having enough paying customers to make a living”.

Why? Because her production and distribution costs are dramatically reduced, combined with an ability to put her work in front of a greater percentage of the Earth’s population than ever before.

This means that she needs fewer paying customers to make a living than was possible in years past, as her costs are dramatically reduced (and she can charge less money while making a more per unit), and she can attract these customers from a larger pool of potential customers.

Even if you completely suck, you can probably dredge up a few hundred or thousand folks who will pay for your work.

Remember “the very best singers” is a misleading benchmark. It’s incredibly subjective. Most of the superstars in the past (or now) were nowhere near what most people would consider “the very best”, but were greatly enjoyed nonetheless.

DannyB (profile) says:

Maybe it's just me

Maybe it’s just me but I find that lower budget independent films are where the creative stuff is happening. Not the remakes of sequels of remakes of old tv shows and wall to wall special effects.

Being out of touch is like this: The MPAA members could hire someone creative and in touch to tell them which movies are great fresh ideas. But when they tell them, they wouldn’t believe it. The MPAA members could hire someone to tell them how to fix their business model, but when they hear it, they wouldn’t believe it. Bu, bu, but . . . piracy!

Zakida Paul says:

Re: Maybe it's just me

It’s not just you. I find that when the budget for special effects and stunts is not there, film makers tend to concentrate on the things that really make a great movie. Namely story, good acting and direction, and good writing. From what I see, Hollywood has forgotten how to make a great movie.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Maybe it's just me

Several of the greatest moments of cinema have been created by a cast and crew improvising to get around a technical problem during a shoot, a lack of budget and/or creative difficulties that have to be ironed out quickly on set.

I’m not sure “they” ever really knew how to make a good movie, but a lot of the processes and hurdles that faced Spielberg, Lucas, Zemeckis et al. during their earlier careers aren’t there any more. Jaws is a classic partly because of the way it builds up tension and fear of the unknown – something which was required because the model shark wouldn’t work. Nowadays, they’d just use a CGI shark and the film would suffer greatly for it, being drained of said suspense and fear while the fake-looking shark is given close-up after close-up.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Maybe it's just me

Yes, 1000 times this.

Huge budgets seem to have very bad effects on the quality of movies, particularly the writing. I think lots of money leads to laziness. Art is creativity constrained, and a monetary constraint, like any other, can lead artists to produce higher quality work.

The money thing doesn’t only apply to art, either. It applies to business as well. If you’re starting a new business, one of the worst things that you can have is plentiful funding. Money easily hides all kinds of problems that will, sooner or later, bite you in the ass.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Of course! They want to get paid for a days work too!

But in all seriousness, those guys remind all of us that there is real opposition out there to any new idea’s concerning copyright. While those guys are unreasoning and staunchly against finding a better way or discussing how to improve things to make it better for everyone, they do provide a easy practice when it comes to actually talking to those that can make meaningful decisions.

I guess you can call those guys low hanging fruit in the discussion on how to rework the state of copyright. If they can be brought in to a reasonable and meaningful discussion on how to make things better, then it may be possible to make real progress.

Or I may be smoking crack and should cut back for a while.

Ninja (profile) says:

But it makes sense right? Let’s take the big automakers in the US for example. They are selling less and facing competition from Asiatic cars that should never have gotten made. Now the tragedy, the good old automakers are suffering and no new cars will be produced by them because those filthy cheaper and better cars from the Asiatic are dominating the market.

After this comment, somewhere someone that actually understands free market screamed in pain.

In a side note, that site has become my favorite.

Me again says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Why would you buy an American Car when you think you can just come drive mine whenever you want”

Because I want MY OWN car to use when/where I want too, or to lend to others to extend my gratitude for you letting me use your car.

Then ill tell all my friends about your car and before you know it thousands of ppl will know about you and if you are a good human being, maybe they will start to WANT TO PAY YOU for the use of your car. Then the demand will rise to the point where you may be able to buy another car(s)paid for by the others you have allowed to use your car.

RadialSkid (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not even close, actually.

Only one European brand (Porsche) ranks in the J.D. Powers top 10 most dependable makes in this country, and it’s near 10. By contrast, half the rest are American brands. Most of the bottom makes, on the other hand, are European, with Land Rover staying perennially at the very bottom.

European cars were probably the best in the ’80s and ’90s, but they’ve been garbage, by and large, for the last decade, and accordingly have been considered largely irrelevant in the United States, in particular.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re:

Production’s up in the US, actually, (Chrysler is making big news lately) but that’s not relevant to my point.

In my opinion, the big issue with US automakers is that the cost of providing health insurance is wrapped into the cost of the car. Foreign automakers whose home country provides universal health care will be that much less expensive. This increase in cost for products is rampant throughout all the major industries in the US.

Removing the burden of health insurance from the employer is both an economically wise thing to do, as it would lower costs on goods for everyone, and it’s the moral thing to do, because tying health insurance to employment creates many perverse results.

DCX2 says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hooray strawman! Awesome!

Increased taxes do not always translate to an increased price of goods. That depends entirely on how the tax is applied. Perhaps only some of the tax ends up factored into the cost of the product, perhaps none at all. There are also secondary benefits to having a healthy population that can increase productivity in ways that offset the increased taxes, perhaps even generating a surplus (similar to how the Laffer Curve demonstrates that lower taxes can sometimes increase revenue). Better health care can result in fewer sick days and fewer deaths and lower costs of treatment (ounce of prevention == pound of cure), meaning more people have more time to be productive while costing less.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Increased taxes do not always translate to an increased price of goods.

Weeelll…. perhaps it is a strawman generally, but in the case of Europe and cars I’m not so sure.. VAT for example is generally high in Europe and attaches to all purchases including cars and by comparison in the US it seems generally lower. Anecdotal evidence for luxury goods (the type I’d buy in the ‘states) suggests that the US is cheaper generally by a roughly “dollars to pounds” ratio and cars are definitely cheaper (though there are feature/quality arguments there) – i.e. goods are often 1/4 to 1/3 cheaper in the US. Also, in the case of cars, take petrol prices… average US petrol price last time I looked was, oh, about $4/gallon? UK price currently translates as roughly double that and while that’s one of the more expensive in Europe it’s only by maybe 10%. So while it’s probably not directly related to healthcare as suggested I’m not convinced the argument of higher taxes not leading to higher prices is exactly a strawman…

Violated (profile) says:

The failure of Hollywood

New records are being set all over the media industry but of course anything that does not make the old industry money gets classed as various degrees of trash.

The indie movie market still has a long way to go to become a major market force but I can see the various pieces getting mobilized ready for the day of market domination.

That is what scares Hollywood and why they like to lie.

The real question Hollywood should ask themselves is why older better movies like Back to the Future had a budget of $50 million when adjusted for inflation but many top movies these days command a budget of about $200 million. Doing the same kind of thing at 4x the cost well highlights Hollywood’s inefficiency when modern technology should have lowered the cost.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bah, should have read the linked article. So much more to add.

One problem I see is the general attitude of these panelists worrying about over-saturation of the indie movie market. IT sounds like they’re complaining that indie movies used to be filtered, but now that the cost to make them has dipped, more and more people are doing it.

So why is it a bad thing that other people get to pursue their dream and Bruce Willis doesn’t get paid 20 million a movie anymore?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“So why is it a bad thing that other people get to pursue their dream and Bruce Willis doesn’t get paid 20 million a movie anymore?”

1) They don’t get their cut.

2) Their latest $200 million crapfest now has to compete with 10 better films that people spend money on instead.

3) They don’t get to control the direction of the market any more, and that means they have to start giving the customer what they want instead of dictating what they can have.

Atkray (profile) says:

Here's a thought

So if artists feel like having to continually produce is running in place I have a suggestion that could fix this.

Allow everyone one copyright.

If you think something is your take it to the bank, buy a tropical island and become king of your own country idea then copyright it and you can watch the checks roll in. Guess wrong and OH Well, too bad. So sad.

In the mean time, you can do like the rest of the world and keep refining your craft and improving it and sharing it with others to build upon.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

There are far more people in this world that want to make movies than will ever get the opportunity.

In the past the only way to do that was to earn the blessings of Hollywood. Now filmmakers aren’t bothering and are finding other ways to make movies.

Sure, most of them will be bad, but so are most of the movies Hollywood produces. Sure, most of them will lose money, but many aren’t made to make money. They’re made simply because the filmmaker wants to make it.

You’ll also notice that Focus, Fox Searchlight, and Weinstein are Hollywood run spinoffs that destroyed indie film in the U.S. because while filmmakers had the ability to make their own films, they had no way to distribute them without Hollywood’s blessing.

Well those distribution channels are opening up to everyone, making Hollywood irrelevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

More doom and gloom from the industry that’s broken box office sales per year for almost all of the last 6 years, lacking one. Each year’s income a record over the year before. The one that didn’t break a record? A few percentages points off making it so not that bad either.

Personally, I don’t go anymore. Too expensive for what is offered, poor viewing atmosphere, all around poor experience for the money. Maybe it would be for the best if less money were available for movies so they actually had to be more picky over the movie subjects and how they were done.

Remakes of remakes are senseless. Why would I go to one? I already know how it ends. Movies made just for special effects to be displayed aren’t worth the cost unless they further the plot of the movie. Which has been a major offering the last few years as movie houses seem unwilling to take the chance on a movie that doesn’t guarantee total returns every time. This seeking the total payback within just a few weeks has changed movies to a formula where there are very few surprises for the viewer. More people come away saying, “oh, saw that coming” which in and of itself ruins the experience as those same ones reactions show when they don’t see it coming.

Big money has ruined the making of movies. Since they are so poorly made and displeasing, why should I reward them? Rather I would like to see most of them go broke.

DanZee (profile) says:

Hollywood always complaining

Hollywood is always complaining about something. Pirates are stealing our movies. Film production has moved to Canada. Special effects and animation companies have moved offshore. DVD sales are down. Ticket sales are down. Production costs are up. Etc.

It never talk about the real problems. Most movies are crap. Ticket prices are too high. Hollywood executives are the ones moving production to Canada and overseas. 99% of movies made are unavailable for purchase or stream. Etc.

Also keep in mind that the movies available at Cannes are mostly independently financed meaning there are still plenty of people who want to invest in making movies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course more movies are being made today. Just look at all the clever, creative, fresh new movies that have been made recently, like “Footloose”, “A Nightmare On Elm Street”, “Fame”, “The A-Team”, “Total Recall”, and the like. And I’m anxiously awaiting this brand new movie coming out soon, called “Red Dawn”.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:


Translation: we wouldn’t have funded them, we wouldn’t know how to market them, so we don’t want to see them being successful lest they undermine our tepid production line.

Alternate Translation: We are the ultimate arbiters of quality, dammit! How dare the public like, much less pay for, anything we haven’t approved!!?!?!?

Not an Electronic Rodent says:


Can you deny that on a global stage, it is more difficult to stand out than on a purely local stage?

False dichotomy there. You don’t neccesarily need to “stand out” on a global stage, just get emough people to listen… the attention of a rather smaller percentage of the 2.3 BILLION people online is needed for “success” than of a few hundred thousand “locally” wouldn’t you say?

That people today will compare local artists to their global counterparts, which was just not the case a hundred years ago?

So you’re suggesting it was easier before the advent of the recording industry? How about before easy transport when perhaps all that was needed for a “career” was to be one of the top 3 singers in your village? Not sure what point you’re trying to make here in relation to the internet – compared to, say, 40 years ago it actually looks easier to get global recognition now.

I’m not convinced you could ever make a career out of a hobbyist interest in pretty much anything, including music. Even the words “hobbyist” and “career” themselves contain the intimation of “amateur not really trying” vs. “dedicated professional putting in effort”. Respective singing talent has little, if anything, to do with it looking at the immense amount of complete rubbish that “makes it” globally so I have to say the defining characteristics of success look to be more to be the amount of effort put it to making it happen and/or the luck of being in the right place at the right time with the right sound.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...