Lucas and Spielberg Predict Big Changes to the Film Industry

Published 2 years ago by

george lucas steven spielberg movie industry Lucas and Spielberg Predict Big Changes to the Film Industry

People tend to sit up and notice when the men who gave us the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises (among other game-changing blockbusters) have something to say about the future of Hollywood tentpoles and the film industry in general. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg recently spoke at the University of Southern California, to commemorate the opening of the Interactive Media Building, and their comments at the event have gotten movie buffs of all shades talking.

The pair echoed the feelings and thoughts of many a journalist, professional filmmaker and general cinema-lover alike, when they addressed how writing for television has become more satisfying than movie screenwriting; that is, because it allows for a richer storytelling experience, with greater complexity and breadth of content (see: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, etc., etc.). Similarly, TV writing doesn’t require artists to jump through so many hurdles as working on big-budget Hollywood fare.

However, it’s what the duo predicted would result from this growing discrepancy, that’s got people buzzing (via THR):

Steven Spielberg on Wednesday predicted an “implosion” in the film industry is inevitable, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. What comes next — or even before then — will be price variances at movie theaters, where “you’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.” He also said that Lincoln came “this close” to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

Spielberg clarified that because some young filmmakers “are too fringe-y for the movies,” television is going to become the route they take with greater frequency. That could set in motion a chain of events that leads more and more people away from seeing the latest over-hyped tentpole at their local theater, and thus cause “a big meltdown” once several “megabudget movies… go crashing into the ground.” Lucas supported his longtime friend and collaborator’s theory, adding that the route to getting your movie into theaters “is really getting smaller and smaller.”

John Carter vs. White Ape Lucas and Spielberg Predict Big Changes to the Film Industry

‘John Carter’ struggled to recoup its $250 million budget

Those who’ve followed developments in Hollywood over the past decade are, no doubt, familiar with what Spielberg and Lucas are talking about here. Studios have become increasingly hesitant to green-light projects, unless they are some kind of remake, franchise reboot, or adaptation based on a lucrative pre-established brand.

However, possessing those qualities is no guarantee that a blockbuster will make a profit, due to factors like niche subject matter, lackluster marketing and/or weak critical word of mouth. Indeed, cracks in the industry blockbuster model-for-success have already begun to show, with films like Green Lantern, Battleship and John Carter (all of which either failed or struggled immensely to cover their expenses). We’ve also got a handful of risky box office bets arriving in theaters over the next month, which could lend more (or less) credibility to this argument.

Lucas and Spielberg had additional thoughts, about what could transpire (When? If?) Hollywood continues its trend of releasing tentpoles that cost $200 million and over:

George Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher. His prediction prompted Spielberg to recall that his 1982 film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial stayed in theaters for a year and four months.

This claim is a bit harder to swallow, if only because services like Netflix, Video on Demand and online entertainment content (a la Amazon Studio series) are continuing to grow and expand the amount – and range – of original content they offer, in addition to incorporating more and more older films/TV shows into their archives.

So many alternate options for entertainment are now available, and it raises question about how feasible (or profitable) it would be for either studios or theater chains to prolong the theatrical runs for certain films, with the hope of attracting both new customers and repeat business despite significant inflation in the ticket prices for blockbuster fare. (Mind you, that’s not to say that Lucas and Spielberg are necessarily wrong, either.)

Altair Ibn LaAhad in Assassins Creed Lucas and Spielberg Predict Big Changes to the Film Industry

Finally, Lucas and Spielberg talked about the contemporary video game market and the upcoming wave of movie adaptations that will be arriving over the next few years:

Lucas and Spielberg also spoke of vast differences between filmmaking and video games because the latter hasn’t been able to tell stories and make consumers care about the characters. Which isn’t to say the two worlds aren’t connected. Spielberg, in fact, has teamed with Microsoft to make a “TV” show for Xbox 360 based on the game Halo and he is making a movie based on the Electronic Arts game Need for Speed.

Again, the assertion that gamers don’t care about the stories or characters they play is open for debate. Hollywood studios are banking on fan’s love of the increasingly well-developed protagonists, settings and narratives found in modern video games, in order to ensure that upcoming movie adaptations like the Tomb Raider reboot, Assassin’s CreedTom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and numerous other titles prove worthy of the financial investment. If that’s not really the case, then we could have a major problem.


What do you think? Are Lucas and Spielberg right, about us being on the verge of a paradigm shift in the film industry? What changes lie ahead for the current Hollywood system? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

Source: THR

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
TAGS: Lincoln
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      • Thank you for raising the standard for movie goers.
        I agree with basically everything you said except that I watched Jack and it was alright.

    • I agree that Hollywood should strive to produce better quality films and that they should listen to the audience about what works and what doesnt work.

      Yet, your assertion that “we” want violence, blood, action, swearing, and maybe a boob or two is so incredibly shallow and frankly untrue of the collective audience. Firstly, there is plenty of that stuff in the crappy R-rated sex comedies, shallow action flicks, and torture porn that Hollywood shovels out each year. Secondly, these elements do not make a film “better” by any means. In fact, Hollywood thinks we want these things so they make violence and sex pornographic. It appeals to our base nature. That is why they call it the sausage of the media.

      Great films can have these elements, but not for the sake of having these elements. I want a great story that will allow me to connect with the characters and feel what they feel. That is what it is all about.

      Also, John Carter was actually good. Did you actually see it or just notice it failed financially and reiterated what everyone else said about it and pass yourself off as a movie critic?

  1. I think what is more likely is that we will enter another aurteur era similar to the 70′s were more smaller films will be put into production with a chance of a higher profit margin and lower risk for studios leading to greater choice at the cinema. The prediction that blockbuster films are becoming over bloated and too expensive has been around for decades… Which so far hasn’t happened has it?

    • Oh come on you know your bedroom hasn’t seen WOW or BOOM in a long time… ;)

      I agree to a degree, I would pay a premium but for a lot more then just the experience presented by the theater/film itself.

      Most times I avoid the theater based on the jack wagons that can ruin a movie. So until they can curb the jack wagons they wont be seeing my money if they ever implement something like this.

      That is the biggest reason I go to the theater very sparingly these days.

      • “Oh come on you know your bedroom hasn’t seen WOW or BOOM in a long time… ;)

        LOL I was referring to the theater providing the WOW and the BOOM.

    • I agree. With higher quality home media and the wider spread of home theatres, there’s less incentive to go out to the theatre except for those spectacle type films that need to be seen on the big screen (like the ones you mentioned).

      • +1

  2. Old farts

  3. I really agree with them. The movie experience is s***** compared to the amazing TV shows being made now. The writing on TV show is so much better than any movie I’ve seen lately. I call World War Z and Pacific Rim and even the next onslaught of Transformers movies failing miserably. People just don’t wanna watch s***, even if it did cost $200M. Take a cue from John Carter and Jack The Giantslayer. I’m not saying the movie experience should be replaced by TV, but s***, HBO, Netflix and AMC have done much, much better than any major studio movie in the last few years. I just want movies to be of better quality. Enough with $200M crappy movies, movie-goers are nou that dumb, and movies are wayyy too dumbed down. Yeah, looking at you Iron Man 3. Movies need some consequences. Especially since most movies are now franchises and are supposedly playing a long game. When I watched Iron Man 3, not for a second did I feel that anything was truly at stake. Even with Star Trek Into Darkness. With Kirk being just saved. I knew that would happen the moment he got irradiated. Please, give movies some Game of Thrones like unpredictability with resonating consequences…

  4. I’ll just stay home and watch my blu-rays until someone in Hollywood or iTunes gets streaming right. I’ll stream and buy my movies from iTunes if the movies are true HD quality 1080p or 4K and has high def audio and the movie is in the correct aspect ratio and when I buy the movie I get the same thing as I’d get on blu-ray the theatrical cut and the director cut if there is one. Batman Begins is only available on iTunes in full screen what the hell? Hollywood is getting too greedy and wants to further their control where you don’t own the movie anymore that you have to rent it every time you watch it, I know thats where their headed. Hell the US gov’t protects the film industry more than any entity or citizen on earth.

  5. Can a moderator delete Danstevens’ multiple posting? I don’t know whether he’s spamming or just having problems using this thing.

  6. I still won’t pay high ticket prices for a movie I will only half enjoy, or dislike completely. I see movies on a cheap night rarely. And I don’t have that excited feeling I used to get, it’s all gone.

    I’ve never seen a 3D movie and I don’t care to.

    The future will be logging into a site – add whichever one you predict will dominate – and streaming a new released movie on to your laptop, or TV, or device. That is probably the future. The future being more at home. Unless they create a new experience in the theater, besides 3D, then nobody will go. None of my friends see movies in the theater anymore, and none of us ever get excited to anymore. We only get somewhat interested, but then it goes away.

    I’d still like to see Star Trek Into Darkness in the theater, but I won’t pay 13 dollars for it. I have gripes over paying 8 dollars even.

    • Remember the good ol’ days of dollar theaters, double features, and a primetime ticket costing all of 4 bucks? /sigh

      This is why I only go to blockbuster/CGI spectacle movies and only to the matinees.

      • +1

  7. I definately care about video game characters. Gears of War are my favorite games campaign wise because of the awesome characters and narrative. RIP Dom :(

    • +1

  8. If there is going to be an “implosion” because studios lose money on big budget movies, shouldn’t this have happened a hundred times over already?

    It’s like slot machines at a casino. Everywhere you look people are losing money, but everyone focuses on the big winners. Ten movies can bomb, but if one can make 1.5 Billion, everyone is back in business.

  9. Well I sure as hell ain’t gonna pay 25+ bucks to see a movie. That’s 100 bucks for a family of four! (200 bucks if you include popcorn and other movies treats!) At those prices I will wait for the video, even if it is a year out.

  10. The issue with movies is they’re too expensive.

    Why would I pay $25 to see a movie in theaters when I can wait and buy it for under $30. If you have a family of four, you can see the exact same movie for $100 (plus popcorn) or $30. Some crazy fans will always pay out of their butts for films, but $100 is ridiculous.

    We’ll see how things go, but if I had to guess, we’re going to see both expensive hits and flops over the long term future and it will have nothing to do with how many movies are playing, what type of film it is, or how long it’s in theaters for. If the cost isn’t right, people aren’t going to see it.

  11. As a fan of all of those game’s the love I had for the characters made me buy the sequel games so I already dig the characters. I would love to see them move forward with this and out of the comic book age for a bit, with all the comic book movies out and future ones, it be hard for people to really enjoy the already famous heros because they rode that horse till it was dead and drag it to a place where the would sell the dead horse just to make another buck. Only problem I see is not enough fan base for these movies, yea the game fans will be sucked in, but is that enough? I only hope. I’d hate to see a good movie lose out or not even be attempted because the fan base isn’t there.

  12. I am sure those two w ant us to pay $25.00 per movie. Would make them and their friends alot of money. Are they sending a message to theaters a message? It is not going to happen any time soon.

  13. I read an article that was talking about how hard it was for people to get their scripts turned into movies. I honestly don’t know how this industry works, but how is it that the people who wrote the scripts for GL, or JC get jobs in the first place? Don’t they have a group of people who can determine whether or not it would make a good film or do they flip a coin and just take crappy risks. Film do well in theaters when people respond to them and recommend friends/family members to go watch it. When it has good reviews, and when word about how good the film was gets around.

    When I go and watch a movie in theaters I hate, I tell anyone I can not to go watch it. So are the people who finance these films I’ll in the head?

    The only film I’ve ever watched in theaters that people told me not to spend money on was The last air bender, only because I was a fan of the cartoon, and I wanted to see how bad it was and have a good laugh.

    • Also Why do they give crazy budgets to hardly known directors? Shouldn’t there at least be a ladder of sorts that they must climb first in order to be given that much money. Like making low budget films that are critically acclaimed.

      Another thing that also pisses me off is the amount of cgi that’s in these films. Enough is enough….

  14. I truly believe they need to target women instead of men. I mean, look at the Twilight series and how well it did. And no nudity either. Womenjust like me will avoid watching a movie if it is rated R for nudity. I see my own boobs every day and do not want to see another woman’s. I also think this is demeaning to women to have nudity while also desensitizing us. Where has our morality gone? We have no respect for one another anymore. All of the movies now are geared towards men even without nudity. All of the marvel movies are action-centered and seem to be less desirable to see when a new action movie hits the box office. I am not suggesting romantic films, but mysteries. Anything suspenseful that will make us think. I am so bored with actio and romance and am dieing to see a change. I was looking forward to superman until I realized it was exactly the same movie as the avengers. I was sadly disappointed to see Louis play such a small role. Make movies for everyone, not just guys!

  15. Make movies for everyone, not just guys! I am so bored and fed up with the marvel movie trends. I want to watch a great mystery. Something that has me wondering what will happen next.

  16. Well I have seen alot of movies this summer. Every movie preview is so tired with Dubstep noises and Bass Booms. Doesn’t make me really want to see every movie because it has loud bass noises inside the preview.
    Movies are like this some you can’t wait to see others you will wait to see on rental. Generally I buy loads of movies on blu-ray. For me i-max and Real 3-D is not a huge difference. I love the seating spaces in i-max theaters thou. For me 15 + dollars is quite a bit for a single movie plus popcorn and a drink. Which for myself is a staple of the movie going experience. Popcorn is kind of a big deal. Some places keep it poping constantly and keep it warm. Other lesser ,cheaper places not so much and the popcorn is not so quality.
    I think movies will continue improve , although unless screens get even bigger which seems impossible there is little more that special EFX can add any more that people can absorb. Might even slow down the action a little bit, and I dont mean slow mo dubstep via Dred. To complete my point is this movies don’t live and die at the movies theater alone. The movies lives on forever and the movie companies continue to make money on the rentals, sales, private streaming,screenings etc. etc. So just because a movie does not meet expectations in the theater, does not mean it will not make money for the home video & rental market. Lucas and Spilberg are speaking the truth. Marvels phase 2 will be the truest test , with non traditional meet mainstream character coming topside to a screen near you. T

  17. John Carter was a good movie, just poorly marketed.

    I think theatrical action movies will grow more into experiences like long rides, and as 3D technology and virtual reality becomes better. It’s already begun to feel more like a ride, ex. Avengers, the last half of Man of Steel. Plot heavy movies, whether dramas, comedy, even action flicks will find there way on home theaters. Perhaps studios will launch their own versions of Netflix and Hulu to release these films. That’s my two cents at least. I guess we’ll all see.