It’s been said for decades, but only now do I truly believe it – Hollywood is running out of ideas. Take a look at the endless adaptations, sequels and reboots on the slate for the rest of this year. The thing is, it’s not like there’s less creative talent in the movie business. There’s no shortage of actors,writers, directors, composers, set designers, fluffers etc. it’s just that in general, studios are less willing to stump up the cash for riskier projects. There have been some massive flops recently, including John Carter and the more recent Jack the Giant Slayer to make investors think twice before reaching for their wallets. It’s the audiences’ faults really, when given the choice of something new versus something familiar, they’ll go for the same old toss every time. That doesn’t mean you should exclusively cater to that. However, that seems like exactly what Hollywood is doing. They churn out sequel after sequel and only bet on a new intellectual property if they reckon they can squeeze a franchise out of it. It must be noted that I’m talking about the big budget studio system, not the independent circuit or foreign imports or anything like that. Some have predicted an industry-wide crash. You know what? I wouldn’t be surprised. The amount of money spent on not only the films themselves but the marketing as well is enough to bring tears to your eyes. They’re relying on more and more arses on seats and it’s going to reach critical mass. Soon they’ll need entire continents to pay to see their film just to break even. Huge flops like Carter and Slayer will become more common and then everyone will be playing their credit cards close to their chest. To be honest, I think the film industry is going to be proper fucked in the near future.
I’m just one fella. I have no power or sway. However, given the opportunity here’s how I would singlehandedly save the films I love so much and probably have loads of sexy ladies coming up to me and want to kiss me on the mouth. So, how would I pull off my promising “unfucking”? If I found myself in a meeting with all the studio heads and influentials, here’s what I’d tell them:
1) Stop whinging about piracy
It has been years and they’re still banging the same old drum. I can’t believe that in space year 2013 we still have preachy little adverts in front of our films. If you’re in the UK and just super-duper lucky, you’ll get the double of John Hurt talking about “The Last Cinema” and then some characters from some upcoming kiddie guff reminding you of “moments worth paying for”. Here’s the dirty secret: every mass entertainment industry has to deal with piracy in some form. The music industry in particular has been plagued by it. Think: when was the last time you heard them complaining? It was a while ago wasn’t it? You know why? They adapted. They embraced new technology. They shifted focus onto promoting live shows and tours. Oh, they held out as long as they could with the old business models that had made them disgustingly rich in the first place, but eventually they moved on. iTunes changed everything. Convenience is a huge factor. There are always going to be people who want stuff for free, but I’d like to think that the public at large agree with recompensing an artist for their work. It’s faster and easier to download a single on iTunes than it is to search for a torrent, make sure it isn’t riddled with nasty shit that’ll nerf your computer and then manually change all the track information to put in on your iPod. Plus, with the iTunes route you don’t have to worry about that whole “against the law” thing.
Films haven’t really got there yet. We live in an age where many people have decent home set-ups with big ol’ HD flatscreens. They’ve just got to accept that some people would prefer to watch films in the privacy of their own homes. They’ve got to accept that most kids watch films on their laptops. There’s been a huge societal shift in how people watch their films. Home entertainment sales are ever-climbing and services like Netflix and Lovefilm are booming. Basically, they need to offer choice- and not the sort of choice between paying £9 for a new release or fucking off. Embrace the tech. Several films have done this already. The upcoming Ben Wheatley film A Field in England is being released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD and on TV. I’m right behind this. Thing is, it needs to be more than quaint Britflicks. We need a Michael Bay blockbuster to adopt this shit. Fuck, get James Cameron in on it. It seems studios will blindly follow everything else he “pioneers”, why not this? Surely they see the benefit of leaving it up to people to choose how they want to interact with the product? Not everyone has a cinema down the road from them, y’know. Christ, more people could end up seeing your damn franchise spawning flick. More money. Fancy that.
2) Make the cinema experience better
This is a no-brainer. If you regulate it, they will come. I adore going to the cinema. I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid. Thing is, most of my cinema visits are marred by the general public. When I went to see Spielberg’s Lincoln, there was a couple of acne-assaulted gorps who talked throughout the entire fucking film. It’s very difficult to pay attention to the softly-spoken Prez when you’ve got that inane shit thrusting its way into your ear. That’s not to mention people and their FUCKING PHONES. I honestly don’t know why there isn’t a plastic box or a locker for depositing your phone as you come in. You get a thing like a valet ticket and get your stuff back at the end. People have proven they can’t be trusted to not check their phones for 90 minutes. It’s not phonecalls that are the problem any more. It’s the bright-as-fuck screens that catch your attention in the dark. I’ve seen what these people are doing. They’re checking Facebook or Twitter or some other such unimportant shit. It’s incredibly distracting. Listen, if it’s so important to text/sext/Facebook/whatever that you can’t spare and hour or so, don’t go to the cinema.
The issue is that people don’t respect the cinema experience any more. If studios aren’t going to let us view how we want and insist that we go to the cinema for our filmic needs, then they need to strive to make it the best experience possible. Don’t just use colourful CGI cartoon wankers to merely tell us that it’s worth paying for, prove it. Very rarely do I have an uneventful, nice trip to the pictures. There’s always some prick spoiling it for everyone else. Plus, there’s the added indignity of having to pay over the odds for one of the 45 super-regular 3D showings because the three 2D showings occur at batshit inconvenient times. Don’t think we haven’t noticed, you sleazy bastards. What I’m saying is, police every screening. Zero tolerance policy. If there’s an usher there, ready to tell people to turn off their phones and chuck out any troublemakers, people will be able to focus on enjoying the film. Hell, it may encourage audience to act like actual adults. “Yeah? Well, the economy’s still a big ol’ prolapsed rectum, so where are we going to get the money for all that from Ben, you smug twat?” I hear you cry. Shut up, I’ll tell you in a minute.
Everyone knows cinemas are too expensive. Thing is, people seem to bark up the wrong tree when it comes to blaming. They blame the cinemas and their ludicrously priced concessions. It’s not really their fault though. People don’t seem to realise that selling stinky hotdogs and vats of watered-down Coke is where cinemas actually make their money. Studios and distributors ask for an insane percentage of the opening week box office with the takings then working on a sliding scale, with the overall share ending up around 50/55%. Studios have started getting greedy though, reckoning they can force cinemas over a barrel and hold blockbusters to ransom, as exemplified with the recent Iron Man 3 debacle that nearly caused the film to not be shown in several big name cinema chains in the U.S. I would suggest that studios allow cinemas to walk away with slightly more of the overall takings, meaning cinemas can lower ticket prices. People will flock if admission is lower, I guarantee it. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard someone decrying the high price of popping out to see a film. Either that or make the cinema worth the premium pricetag by getting the studios to pick up the bill for the kick-ass ushers I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Cinema used to be the accessible art form, where anyone could take their minds off their troubles for a while for just the change in their pocket. It’s a shame it’s moved away from that. Time moves on, shit gets more expensive, I get that. However, I think people should be encouraged by the popularity of Netflix and the like. Low monthly prices and a fair selection of films for much cheaper than you can get anywhere else. Plus, it’s legal, so people don’t have to feel like scumbags.
I hate the modern film industry. Its avarice and mercenary nature seems barely hidden any more. There used to be an artifice of wanting to entertain, but that seems like a joke that steadily grows in irony, especially when you have fucking robots like this wax droid in charge of the next greenlighting decision.