The Answer To The $200 Million Movie Question

from the there-is-no-$200-million-movie dept

Last month, at the CATO Institute conference on copyrights, someone from NBC Universal asked both Professor David Levine and me how NBC could keep making $200 million movies like King Kong without super strong copyright regulations. We each gave our answers that didn't satisfy some. However, as I noted in the recap to the event, the guy from NBC Universal was asking the wrong question. It's like going back to the early days of the PC and asking how IBM would keep making mainframes. The point is that $200 million movies may mostly be a thing of the past. The near immediate response from NBC Universal and other stronger copyright supporters is that this is a "loss" to society -- since we want these movies. However, that shows a misunderstanding of the answer. No one is saying to make worse movies -- but to recognize that it should no longer cost so much to make a movie. The same economics professor, David Levine, who was asked the question is now highlighting exactly this point on his blog. Last week there was a lot of publicity around a group of Finns who created a Star Trek spoof and are trying to help others make and promote inexpensive, high quality movies as well. Levine notes that the quality of the spoof movie is astounding -- not all that far off from what you'd expect from a huge blockbuster sci-fi picture, but was done with almost no budget at all. Given the advances in technology, the quality is only going to improve. So, again, it would appear that a big part of the answer to the $200 million movie question is simply that anyone spending $200 million on a movie these days is doing an awful job containing costs.

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  1. identicon
    Howard, 15 May 2006 @ 8:03am

    The whole thing is a nonstarter for me...

    In my case, the market has worked. The movie makers don't get much money at all from me. I get to the theater to watch a movie maybe once a year, but I may skip it altogether this year. I rent a video about 3 or 4 times a year, but it's been a while for that, too. Currently, 6 full-length movies that I may or may not ever watch are spinning idly around on the disk in my DVR that I got during a 30-day promo for DirecTV (after which I dropped all of the extra-cost options). The main reason isn't even the cost, it's the fact that precious little of what is coming out of Hollywood is worth my time to watch.

    Sunday's Dallas Morning News had a feature story on four relatively new series that are being cancelled -- and I have not seen a single episode of any of them. Maybe I'm out of the mainstream, but about the only things I watch anymore are the occasional British comedies on NPR (The Thin Blue Line, mostly), and some science and DIY shows. Commercial TV, like the current offal from Hollywood, has become mostly a vast electronic wasteland. I stopped watching TV news about 20 years ago, when I read that it was probably the biggest factor affecting depression. (Why do I even have a TV? Well, it was my wife's idea...)

    Violins and Accessories

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