Dead At The Box Office
By Ed Driscoll · March 6, 2007 07:24 PM · Hollywood, Interrupted
Today, movies just don't seem to matter in the same way not to the general public and not to the high culture either... Two years ago, writing in these pages, I described an ever-growing culture of knowingness, especially among young people, in which being regarded as part of an informational elite an elite that knew which celebrities were dating each other, which had had plastic surgery, who was in rehab, etc. was more gratifying than the conventional pleasures of moviegoing.Isn't that bass-ackwards though? The reason isn't the rise of additional outlets for gossip, but the fact that Hollywood can't craft stories compelling enough to overcome all of the existing tabloid talk and give moviegoers a reason to return to theaters in numbers sufficient to be consistently profitable.
Nina and I had dinner at the Museum of Modern Art's new restaurant on Sunday with a movie theater owner who cited many of the recent theories being proffered regarding why the industry isn't raking in the same level of box office as it used to: including texting cell phones, videogames, and, as Gabler wrote above, the tabloids and reality TV. But to me the answer is closer to these 2005 pieces by Mark Steyn and Brian Anderson: political correctness has both dumbed down the writing and severely limited the stories the movie industry can tell.
Clive Davis writes in response to Gabler, "perhaps that means that the grown-ups will be allowed to go back to telling serious stories for serious, non-popcorn audiences. Or am I just starry-eyed?"
I'd like to think it's possible, but at the moment, I just can't see the industry rising above the severe mental handcuffs it has imposed upon itself. As for talent outside of mainstream Hollywood, as Jason Apuzzo writes, "We live in an era in which there may be better and cheaper film equipment available at your local Apple Store or Frys Electronics than is available at your film school (or at your Hollywood studio, frankly)". But until someone emerges who can put all the pieces together, for the foreseeable future, the movie industry has a Red Queen's Race of its own to deal with.
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"If you're looking to wrap your arms around the key points of the Long Tail theory, check out the new 15-minute podcast with Long Tail author Chris Anderson over at TCS Daily. During the conversation with TCS Daily columnist Ed Driscoll, Chris explains what the shift from mass markets to niche markets means for business organizations and gives various examples throughout history when a changing economic distribution system altered the relationship between "blockbusters" and niche products."--Fortune
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