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. icon
    ced1106 (profile), 25 Jan 2012 @ 11:16pm

    The question isn't even how we can make an entertaining movie that's inexpensive. The question isn't even how can we make *entertainment* itself inexpensive. The question is how can we make content that people want that is cheap and even free.

    Well, you're looking at it. The *real* threat to the entertainment industry is user-generated content which is often *free*. You're not paying (directly) to read TechDirt. I'm not paying to post. But this is how we wish to spend our time and it is *free*.

    If you want a movie with glitzy special effects, or if you want to watch something with a big-name actor, then, sure, you're going to pay for it. It's no different than if you insist on watching a $20 DVD on a $2000 home entertainment system. If you want something tha costs money to make, you should pay for it.

    But entertainment is *not* a necessity. You do *not* have to watch Snakes on a Plane. If you do, sure, pay for it. But if you can find other ways to spend your time that don't cost money, you don't have to watch *that* particular movie.

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