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 @ 11:43am

    Re: Re: The whole thing is a nonstarter for me...

    By the way, you are missing out on some wonderful thought provoking entertainment. The works, and medium, of Shakespeare were once considered chaff for the riff-raff.

    Somehow, I doubt that there is anything currently showing on TV that is in the same league as Shakespeare (or Bacon, depending on how you regard the controvery of Shakespeare's authorship). And, I found that once I quit watching TV news, I was generally better-informed about events from local to international than most of the folks I work with, which led me to conclude that TV (at least the news part) is an information sink, not an information source. The last few times I've happened to see TV news, it struck me as odd how talking heads, having absolutely nothing useful to say, will say it over and over and over... OTOH, I have found the DIY.net programs on woodworking and musical instruments to be quite entertaining and even somewhat informative.

    I found Star Wreck to be quite funny (I did watch a lot of Star Trek and Babylon Five back when they were on, but the last decent SciFi I have seen on TV was Farscape). So I agree with the jist of the story at the top that indy films are the future of movies, and large-budget films are going the way of the dinosaur.


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