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
    Random Comment, 14 Jun 2009 @ 1:01am

    > HW makes entertainment

    This needs to be repeated, if only because HW doesn't realize it. It's the proverbial "Are we in the buggy whip business, or the transportation business?" People don't watch $200 million dollar movies. They want the experience (remember scarce goods?) associated with the $200 million dollar movie People want to be entertained.

    And when you think about entertainment, you can more easily slap on the $0 price tag. Television? The internet? Books? It's all part of the entertainment pie, and those of us who don't want to pay high ticket prices already know that.

    Now, you'll excuse me while I retire to my home entertainment system with the plasma television and pop in a DVD. Need that movie experience, ya know.

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