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The Slow Death of Hollywood (mattstoller.substack.com)
246 points by howard941 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 255 comments





Hollywood is hanging itself by its own velvet rope. Remakes are seen as an excellent investment because, so long as they are properly stylized and full of dazzle, they are low-risk and have reasonable returns. Usually.

This won't work for them forever, and I think everyday people are catching on to the fact that they're just being resold the same stuff they've already bought. The other day, my cousin's 11 year old son was over and we were trying to figure out what movie to go see. We asked him if he wanted to go see the live-action Aladdin remake. He told us he didn't want to see it because they(Disney) were just taking a 2D movie that he'd already seen and are just doing the same thing again with actors to make more money. I gave him a fist-bump. He's not even a cynical kid, either. We ended up not even going to the movies because everything that was out was either a remake or n-th sequel, ridiculous looking, or rated R.

If kids who weren't even around when Aladdin or The Lion King first came out are catching on to the fact that corporations are just recycling their parent's generation's culture, it's a sign that Hollywood has gotten completely full of itself and is in early-stage apoptosis.


> everyday people are catching on to the fact that they're just being resold the same stuff they've already bought.

But Hollywood have always done this - recycling old ideas in new wrapping. And Hollywood have always been criticized for being vapid entertainment, empty spectacle etc.

"catching on to the fact" suggest that this is some secret insight which undermines the enjoyment of the movie. But I'm pretty sure most people who goes to the Disney remakes go because it is remakes of movies they already know and love. They want to see the same thing in a new way.

According to Wikipedia, Aladdin grossed "$923.7 million, against a production budget of $183 million". So despite you and your nephew, Disney seem to manage OK.

Hollywood does have problem, but it is not due to lack of originality. Hollywood produces plenty of original stories still, but it is the remakes and franchises which grosses the most. Because the consumers likes this stuff.


>But Hollywood have always done this - recycling old ideas in new wrapping.

Yes, but I think it's safe to say that there were a lot more original movies a few decades ago than there are now. Hollywood used to take more risks.

>According to Wikipedia, Aladdin grossed "$923.7 million, against a production budget of $183 million". So despite you and your nephew, Disney seem to manage OK.

Exactly. People are bemoaning the current state of Hollywood, but it's extremely profitable, and that's all that really matters to them. There's no shortage of paying customers willing to see the latest sequel/prequel/remake/reboot. Sure, they might lose a few ticket sales from people like me and this OP and his nephew, but it's more than made up for by countless others who just don't care and want entertainment. And yes, they might make more profit on a really great original movie (like the original Star Wars in 1977), but that's also a big risk and it might flop and be a giant loss, so they tend to shy away from such things now and make safer movies that have an almost guaranteed profit, even if it isn't as much.


"Hollywood" has never, ever taken more risks than they are taking today.

Netflix alone spent $12 billion on new content in 2018. They expect to spend $15 billion in 2019, and expect this to hit almost $18 billion in 2020.[1] There is more new, original content being produced than anyone could ever expect to watch in one lifetime. Compare this to a few decades ago when you had 3 or 4 networks on TV each making a dozen or so shows each year, and a handful of studios producing movies (many of them remakes from the 30s, 40s, and 50s).

Everyone seems to view "Hollywood" with rose colored glasses. The medium through which people consume entertainment certainly seems like it is starting to change, but that doesn't mean "Hollywood" is dead or dying. The exact opposite is happening.

[1] https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/netflix-content-spendi...


Netflix isn't "Hollywood"; that should be pretty obvious from the context of this discussion. Netflix got into the made-for-Netflix movie production business because the traditional studios were pulling their content from Netflix. "Hollywood" is the studios producing movies that go to the big-screen theaters. We aren't talking about indie stuff here, movies only shown at art-house theaters, movies only shown on Netflix or Amazon Prime, etc.

Netflix is quite literally Hollywood...it has the only studios physically located in Hollywood, releases movies on the big screen, and adheres to all of the guild/union rules with respect to film productions.

It's had its share of horrible remakes, blockbuster crap, and arthouse films.

No studio releases all of its movies to theaters; most studio catalogs have more VOD releases (formerly "direct-to-video") than studio releases. The VOD releases are frequently more profitable on an average basis so long as budgets are strictly adhered to.


My understanding of the business is limited. I did hear Patrick Whiteside speak at a dinner though last year, and from his description, it seemed like most of these shows are packaged up and sold by the studios of even the agency itself. So say the agency represents a good writer who has a new script and Reese Witherspoon suits the lead role, is also represented by the agency, and wants the work. The agency essentially will go pitch the script and likely cast to Netflix, Hulu, etc. so often Netflix isn’t the one actually the entire conception and implementation of the show. They are just the ones buying the rights to own it and distribute it.

The OP article clearly counts Netflix as part of Hollywood, just like Disney.

What are we defining as "Hollywood" here? Is Netflix really considered the same thing as the studios that produce the blockbusters?

Your statement begs the question. The OP said "Hollywood" doesn't produce as much original content as it did decades ago. When I point out that there is more original content being created today than ever (probably on the order of several magnitudes) simply because it's cheaper than ever to produce original content, the only thing you mention is "blockbusters". Clearly, the production of blockbusters has nothing to do with the amount of original content being created. Why differentiate Netflix from the rest of "Hollywood"? (Remember, Netflix won an Oscar last year.) For that matter, why overlook the dozens of smaller or independent shops that are producing original content in staggering amounts, regardless of how that content is being distributed?

But, if you want to talk about more traditional blockbusters, Netflix makes plenty of those (arguably more than many traditional studios).


They share the same offices and employees move back and forth between them, so yeah, I'd say they're the same.

Is Netflix taking risks though? If you look closely most of their content seem to be written by bots trying to maximize revenue. They are taking everything people love and then writing stuff around it. Sure, there are originals here and there but look closely there is lot of rehashed stuff as well.

Those are TV series for the most part. What's their movie budget?

Oh, please. With all the questions for Hollywood, it's worst creations are still much better than any TV-serie ever made.

When they produce a movie, they want to sell it to auditory, to lure us into theaters and make to pay for tickets. They are attaching stars and buying stories and making trailers and posters.

The only purpose of TV-serie is to work out a Pavlov dog reflex: they want us to be before a TV every week at the same time. So they are making cliffhangers and misterious faces, and are filling all the emptyness with action scenes and dialogs.

NB: I am aware that some of Netflix production are not series but feature movies.


> The only purpose of TV-serie is to work out a Pavlov dog reflex: they want us to be before a TV every week at the same time. So they are making cliffhangers and misterious faces, and are filling all the emptyness with action scenes and dialogs.

The studio system already assimilated this criticism and Netflix just dumps entire TV shows in one go. It's more like a 10 hour feature, split into easily digestible chunks.

Plus, TiVo et al already killed this "want us to be before a TV every week at the same time". There is a new episode every week at the same time, but I'll see it when I get the chance, I'm not peeing into bottles to watch the opening of The Fugitive.


The fact that some people recently changed their way of ingesting TV-series content does not cancel another fact, that hefty part of TV-series production industry is still working according to old principles. Intra-series cliffhangers are slightly giving way to intra-seasonal ones, but the idea is still the same: to get user's attention, not to sell the product.

There is a reciprocial movement in Hollywood with it's endless stream of sequels, which are closer in quality to TV rubble. There must be a junction point somewhere in a near future, I'm looking for it with amusement.

NB: I'm glad for those downvotes. It means I am close to truth, people used to hate uncomfortable truth.


That's not even wrong; lots of TV series don't have continuity, so they can't have cliffhangers and other tricks like that.

Just to be clear, out of the gross $920 million, Disney get ~50%, and the production budget of $180 million does not include advertising/promotion which is reportedly in the range of $50-100 million for big releases such as this.

That said it's still making good money and will make even more after the box office run.


> Yes, but I think it's safe to say that there were a lot more original movies a few decades ago than there are now. Hollywood used to take more risks.

It's harder to get people to go to the theater due to a bunch of factors like improved TV tech and increased competition for time, but "hollywood" is also capitalizing on those things. Look at how many original series are on Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, etc, and compare that to what we had 30 years ago between theaters and TV.



That doesn't take inflation into account though. You'd expect it to go up 3-4% in $ terms even if sales were the same. That the number is actually flat over the last 4 years does mean sales are down a bit.

The $6.05B 2016 figure would be about $6.45B in 2019 dollars.

Box office trends have been shifting over the last decade or so... the big blockbusters (superhero movies especially) are bigger and bigger, but the mid-budget stuff that was a mainstay of the 90s and early 2000s (think stuff like Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler movies) is getting squeezed pretty hard.

To give one look at the distribution.... last year the 100th best performing movie did ($21.7M / $700M) = 3.1% of the #1 movie.

In 2010, ($26.5M / $415M) = 6.38%

In 2000, ($18.7M / 260M) = 7.19%


> I think it's safe to say that there were a lot more original movies a few decades ago

This probably depends on your definition of original. Franchises dominates today, but lots of older movies are based on books or plays or are remakes of even older movies.


> Yes, but I think it's safe to say that there were a lot more original movies a few decades ago than there are now. Hollywood used to take more risks.

Casablanca was a remake of another Casablanca 10 years before, but I believe this previous Casablanca is now lost.


> Yes, but I think it's safe to say that there were a lot more original movies a few decades ago than there are now.

This is false.

Sequels and book adaptions have dominated the top 10 every year for decades and decades.


Right. Movies don’t come out of thin air. They all need inspiration whether a book, a story, news item, etc. Its not writers making movie scripts ala SNL sketches.

I'd say all art needs inspiration, but there are certainly plenty of screenplays (just like theater plays) that don't come from a single item. As a random example, Woody Allen came up with the title "Midnight in Paris", then wrote the whole screenplay from the title.

I complained to Trekkie friend that nothing since Star Trek TOS has Star Trek been any good. He asked what evidence I had.

I said the lack of quotable lines. I know a long list of TOS quotable lines, and exactly one from after ("KKKAAAAAAHHHHHNNNNNN!"). No quotable lines means the writing is crummy and the shows are not memorable.

The same for Star Wars. Who quotes any lines from other than the first one? I stopped watching the SW new movies, too. Zzzzzz....


> But Hollywood have always done this - recycling old ideas in new wrapping. And Hollywood have always been criticized for being vapid entertainment, empty spectacle etc.

Not to this degree. The last good year for movies was 1999. This is the list of major releases that year:

The Matrix

Fight Club

The Sixth Sense

Toy Story 2

The Green Mile

American Beauty

Being John Malkovic

Office Space

The Iron Giant

Magnolia

Austin Powers

American Pie

The Talented Mr. Ripley

Eyes Wide Shut

Dogma

Galaxy Quest

The Insider

Notting Hill

Man on the Moon

Analyze This

Detroit Rock City

Mystery Men

Bicentennial Man

This is not even the entire list, just the ones I enjoyed and I'm bothering to type.

You can't look at that list and honestly say nothing has changed, because it's just not true. The energy and creativity has clearly moved somewhere else, to TV and streaming services.

This year alone there's two FANTASTIC shows, Chernobyl and Stranger Things S3 that definitely deserve praise.


Good point. I think “Hollywood” got eaten up by globalization (China) and easy route of super hero movies all-the-time. The Disney’s and big studios alike have no patience to make money off of creativity. Why do we even need Toy Story 4 to begin with? And how many super hero movies one need to drive same points again and again?

Why did you exclude the highest grossing film that year from the list? It seems you just selected the movies you thought helped you point.

Movies among the top ten grossing which you left out of the list:

- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

- Tarzan

- Big Daddy

- The Mummy

- Runaway Bride

- The World Is Not Enough

- The Blair Witch Project

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_1999_box_office_number...

I do agree Hollywood is different today, but rehashing ideas is nothing new.

The Godfather was a book. Twelve Angry Men was a play. Ben Hur (1956) was remake of Ben Hur (1925). All the songs in Singing in the Rain was recycled from previous movies. The Lion King was the first Disney animated movie with an original story (and even then people say it was plagiarized from Kimba).

As for TV shows and made-for-streaming, do you exclude this from Hollywood? It is increasingly the same talent writing producing and acting, so it is more a question of format and distribution.


That's almost 20 good new movies in 1 year. I feel like I have trouble finding 20 good new movies for the recent years.

This is anecdotal to the point of being noise. How about comparing the top X grossing movies of 1999 vs. last year? Still subjective, but a step forward from "just the ones I enjoyed and I'm bothering to type" and two Netflix releases.

I worked in a multiplex in 1999, and that was a great year for movies. The Sixth Sense in particular was the little movie that could. If I remember correctly it was shown for like six months.

Originality? Hah! Even remaking Frankenstein every 20 years or so brought a new take to it, whether Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi or Robert de Nero, they all brought something new.

More than any point I can remember before Hollywood now turn every movie and remake into the exact same movie. There was always some degree of fashion, but there's no contrast any more - it's all highlight, so it drags and drags by being boring and samey (but loud). Highlight is now just the dull background. The loudness wars, movie edition.

Doesn't matter what it is, a current film (or Netflix high budget, Game of Thrones etc) will have:

+ An absurdly overblown inspirational speech inspiring the troops (or children, or escapees, or office colleagues)! This will take 5-10 ear-bleeding, cringing minutes. If unlucky, you'll get two or three of these in one show!

+ An absurdly artificial, but highly 3D friendly chase scene with no production value other than hype. This will take 5-15 minutes. It stopped being interesting after Blues Brothers' piss take of chase scenes!

+ Ditto, ditto fight scene. Super slow motion. I always think of Adam West's TV Batman, complete with music - Zap! Pow! OWWW! Biff! 300 enemies die, town levelled, 342,000 rounds of ammunition spent, hero hasn't broken sweat. Just about the only recent exceptions I can think of are Deadpool and Sin City. Damn, the sequels were disappointing.

+ Ditto, ditto villain's death or capture.

I wait for them to land on Netflix, then go make tea, tidy the kitchen or watch some paint dry in all those "highlights". Independents with next to no budget can still do original though.


This is getting close to "all the new music is crap and sounds alike, the music when I was young and impressive was much better". Every generation says that, regardless of when they were born.

Maybe those older movies just didn't seem so derivative to you because it was new to you then?


It was interesting from 50+ years before I was born, through B&W B movies of the 50s, to maybe early 00s. Independent movies don't have the same absurd tendencies, and often still have lots of contrasts. Sure, some of those are just poor too. Independents have changed too, but haven't magically ended up with the same framework every time. Hollywood didn't used to.

There were always derivatives, themes, fashions, but without dull homogeneity. Too much chasing what sells, I have no idea why, but it seems to have reached self parody with succession of predictable remakes that add the standards and take away what made the original interesting in the first place. e.g. Total Recall

I still regularly find new bands and music. shrug.


You think older movies were better because of the time filter - we remember the classics and forget the crap.

You think movies you saw in your youth were great because they were original to you - you hadn't seen all the previous movies and plays they were inspired by or remakes of.

This is the same for everybody, which is why people was saying the exact same thing as you do 10, 20, 30 years ago.

> Too much chasing what sells, I have no idea why,

Hollywood is a business, it exists to make money. It have always been like that.


> You think older movies were better because of the time filter - we remember the classics and forget the crap.

No you're making excuses. I don't think they were always better, but that they took from a FAR wider selection of production styles. Hollywood has been afraid of variety for decades, inserting the cliche "family values" ending in every movie, or even demanding the neat happy end every time, or some cliche camera technique, whether the Dutch angle, or today's overhead rotating zoom-in. Habits and techniques that run in eras. Those homogenised 5 or 15% of the film, with half of that always the cliche ending.

There have been shite movies in every era, but both good and bad provided a far wider variety of production styles. Emphatically not saying that every film became crap - though they often seem tired and boring because even a good or perfectly directed and produced film feels tired when its 5th or 15th in the franchise. Everything feels like it's in the same franchise now at 70-90% homogenised.

Maybe you don't see it, but my kids and their friends seem to and regularly take the piss about movies they saw. They can't compare with earlier eras but they can, and do, come back and take the piss about the scene or idea lifted straight from the last movie they went as a group to. Not always - they can rave about some film I thought awful too. :)

> Hollywood is a business, it exists to make money. It have always been like that.

The point, that I could have expressed better, is that it always existed to make money, but didn't completely sacrifice everything else on that altar. Yet despite scifi, yes even Star Wars, usually being western in space the theme book had more than one page. Maybe there were a dozen or so common, cliched themes and production styles, but clearly more than one.

The point I suppose boils down to: every movie now has become a super-hero martial arts movie. A horror film has become a super-hero martial arts movie in a cabin in the woods etc. The book must say that's what encapsulates the perfect movie, so that's the form given to every movie.


As for happy endings etc., this have always been a mainstay of Hollywood. In the Hollywood satire "The Player" from 1992 it is actually a plot point how a script without a happy ending cannot get produced. (And that movie itself have an improbable tacked-on happy-end to drive the point home.)

For fun I looked up the term "Hollywood Ending" ("a film ending of a conventional type, characterized as sentimental, simplistic, or melodramatic, and often featuring an improbably positive outcome; frequently in extended use."). The first example of this usage is from...1929.

So not exactly a recent development.

As for every movie being a "super-hero martial arts movie." - well this genre is certainly big at the moment, but by far isnt the only type of movie. If you look at the most recent Oscar awards, you will see movies like Roma, Vice, The Favourite, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, Green Book. These are mainstream Hollywood movies (almost by definition, this is what the Oscars awards) but there is still a span of genres and narrative styles. I don't see this as notably more homogenized than any other year.

And despite the hand-wringing over superheroes, I would like to point out that the "Marcel Cinematic Universe" is actually a pretty original concept in itself. Never before have such a complex shared universe and storyline unfolded over so many coordinated movies. I don't know if this is particularly worse than bygone Hollywood fads like westerns, sword-and-sandal epics, musicals etc.

But if you don't like superheroes there is still plenty of movies to choose from, since the overall number of movies released is steadily growing.


The Hollywood ending defines them and probably always has, so far from recent. It's been a standard for everyone to take the piss out of as long as I've known of movies!

It's one reason I miss a healthy British film industry - sure those mostly ended happily, but rarely so cheesy, except some from the 1940s. Yet there was a decent proportion of surprise unhappy, cynical, tired and non-endings too. A twist would sometimes be something you actually didn't see coming, rather than a "surprise" set up from the start and regularly telegraphed like a five year old keeping a secret. :)

It's not that I dislike superheroes. Well, didn't used to. The whole Marvel universe thing started off well enough. I enjoyed Wolverine, Iron Man, Deadpool 1 plenty, and some others. I really like roast lamb and mint, but getting it for 2 in 3 meals would cure me by boredom within weeks. Maybe it's just too large a proportion of the canon. Except it infects all genres... Wolf of Wall Street? Great Gatsby? Chernobyl? Superhero movies - in style, in script, in camera work, and in tropes used. Now that's putting lamb and mint in with my choc cake and just spoiling every meal.

Chernobyl was the surprise disappointment. It didn't need to deviate so far from reality - the affected were dangerously radioactive too? Not in our universe's physics. Nor be quite so McCarthy child's comic book (and wildly inaccurate) in representing the Soviets. That kind-of suited Stranger Things, though even there it was rather overblown, or Bruce Willis' Red, but not here. Legasov was the superhero - except he didn't actually tear down the whole Soviet system in court, nor get arrested by the KGB after the show trial. The plant manager (I forget the name) was the absurdist villain, missing only a white cat. Do as I say or I will throw you into the reactor Mr Stark. Oh wait, that was Serbina in the helicopter.

Chernobyl was clearly set in a comic book universe. It would still have been bloody good, and well made without any of that bullshit. The attention to scenic correctness and actors resembling the real people was remarkable. Spoiling the plot for a ha'p'orth of reality then.

Suffice to say, I don't think we're going to agree, but it's been a fun back and forth. :)


I don't really disagree with you about the criticism towards Hollywood for being profit-seeking, clichéd, fad-chasing, derivative etc. This is often fair. I'm just pushing back against the idea this this is somehow a recent development. I believe this is ingrained in the nature of Hollywood since its inception, and due to the nature of creative endeavors: 95% of everything is crap, and movies are so expensive they need (at least on average) to catch the tastes of the audience in order to be made.

For example, regarding Chernobyl, this is a dramatized retelling of historical events. Characters have been invented, dialog made up, and event changed or rearranged in order to sharpen and intensify the drama. Every "based on a true story" movie ever have done that. This is not something which can be blamed on comic books or recent trends. And compared to typical Hollywood history like "Amadeus" or "Braveheart", Chernobyl is practically a documentary.


>According to Wikipedia, Aladdin grossed "$923.7 million, against a production budget of $183 million". So despite you and your nephew, Disney seem to manage OK.

That's not an objective way to look at things. If there were only 1 model of car being sold this year, you can bet it will sell with record numbers and produce more profit than any other vehicle in the past. The fact that records are being broken so rapidly is a bad thing; it means there's very few films worth watching, so everyone is going out to see the same thing.


But the number of movies released has been steadily growing, not shrinking.

"Released" isn't really important; "marketed and/or advertised" is.

I can’t watch the original stuff they are making if it doesn’t come to my theater. My theater is a bunch of sequels and remakes, the Hollywood you are describing seems completely foreign to me in this era.

An old story in a new telling and interpretation is a different thing from a remake.

>Hollywood produces plenty of original stories still

I'd love to see you back this up with data in comparison to previous years. Even a cursory glance at opening weekends over the years on Box Office Mojo tells me you're misinformed.


You’ve asked for hard data, and then make a contrary assertion for which you have no data either. No, glancing at a website periodically doesn’t count.

Conversely, you made a broad claim that runs contrary to popular consensus. Cursory glance or not, the onus is on you to back up your initial wild claim with a source.

Regardless, are you really going to double-down on Hollywood producing more original stories than ever?

Hollywood studios today are in the business of SASOR (sequels, adaptations, Spin-offs, Remakes). That is their primary business model. They may buy up an original productions at festivals like Sundance & SXSW, but that is only for distribution and a light spend on P&A.


I’m not the op. But I see you doubling down on your own claim, still without providing any data. What makes the op’s claim any more wild than your own? Why is the onus them, rather than you?

You have presented no data to back up you claim that greater than 50% of people (popular consensus) believe Hollywood produces less original content than at some time in the past. Even if you did, the fact that most people believe something is distinct from that thing actually being true.

For what it’s worth, my intuition says you’re right. But intuition is not data. Confirmation bias is real...


To even discuss this quantitatively, we have do define what "original" means. Is a movie based on a book, play, or comic original? What about a sequel with an original story but existing characters/universe?

> This won't work for them forever

You are under estimating the power of formula. Disney had a huge run with prince-princess stories for kids and they only recently toned it down because of huge negative effects on kids. They can easily go on forever on this theme if they want to. Vast majority of movies made in Indian cinema (aka Bollywood) are information-less and even story-less movies that just revolves around one thing: Two people fall in love and there is some problem. You can literally find identical story lines in other 100s of Bollywood movies. Very very few people there has given thought to making movies on something else. This has been going on for about 50 years there and no signs of stopping.


The "formula" has changed a lot in recent years. You need to revisit Bollywood! Some of the biggest hits this year which I have seen do not follow that at all.

Uri Gully Boy Kesari (I don't watch that many movies it seems!)

It is true nowadays, there seems to be more originality in Bollywood than Hollywood

( I don't see that many!


Yes. Pixar has a template:

Once upon a time there was ___.

Every day, ___.

One day ___.

Because of that, ___.

Because of that, ___.

Until finally ___.

Pixar movies are "nobody becomes somebody due to external event". That's a common pattern, beaten to death in the Star Wars franchise. But it's not the only pattern. It's not Game of Thrones. It's not Star Trek. It's not even most winners of "Best Picture" Oscars.


> "nobody becomes somebody due to external event"

Pixar, StarWars, Lord of Rings, Harry Potter and virtually most other big banners use "nobody becomes somebody because they were already somebody" formula. Give it a close look and you will find lead characters in these movies didn't actually worked for their super powers or earned special status. Luke can become Jedi not because he worked for it for his whole life but because he was born that way. They were already special but put in difficult circumstances which made them not look special. But eventually they overcame and their "specialness" poped out anyway. People identify with this template because everyone thinks they are special and supressed because of external circumstances. Movie with a message that you are just as normal as anyway and you have to put years of grit to be successful - this typically doesn't go well with most audiences.


This is completely nonsensical.

Toy Story? Cars? Inside Out? Up? Coco?

None of these follow that template. Sure, some like a Bugs Life and Rattatouille follow this, but in quirky ways. All conventional narrative structure involves an external incident. That sets up the central conflict of the narrative.

Disney movies like Big Hero 6, Moana or Frozen are more likely to follow it, though again, there’s a lot more craft in the story and surrounding context than the base structure suggests.


Many of these were Pixar movies, not Disney. Pixar almost always insisted doing things differently (guess who was it’s CEO). Disney on the other hand almost always insisted in serving “sugar”. There is even a phrase for this, it’s called Disney Effect: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/family/disney-princesse...

Recycling culture nakedly has always been Disney's thing, the familiarity of the stories has always been a selling point with much of the market (and the “its just recycling what I've already experienced” has always been the refrain of another part of the market.)

That's also true of Hollywood more generally. To the extent Hollywood is dying it's because new media (that are no less enthusiastic about recycling culture) is displacing old, but the same corporate Giants (and even moreso the same moneyed interests behind them) control much of new media as dominate the old, so ultimately the difference it makes is pretty minimal.


Recycling concepts is one thing. Recycling a movie thats still popular only with slightly different acting is quite another.

It’s been well over a decade since the original Aladdin was released. This isn’t exactly complaining that people keep on staging Macbeth instead of newly written plays but it’s in the same direction. Critics and connoisseurs care far more about originality than casuals, who are always all about competent execution. Is the movie any good when judged as a singular work? Is it good if you’re not jaded by having watched a movie a day for years?

But the original Aladdin isn't even an original story, it's just on of the many adaptations of a middle eastern folk tale.

It is partly due to new media however lets consider some other things which are really important.

1) The problem is that a lot of the remakes/sequels and reboots are quite frankly crap. I don't care too much about Disney. But other remakes and sequels are generally awful.

So lets take some case studies:

* Robocop (2013). The movie except for on 2 minute scene was dire. It was a PG-13 remake of what was at the time a shockingly violent film (the effects look awful now, but they were quite convincing back in the mid-90s still) that completely missed the point of the original movie.

* Ghostbusters (2016) was another movie that not only looked completely awful in the trailer, it completely again misunderstood the original movie, added nothing much new and they outright attacked the fandom after they said to the studio "What the hell are you doing". The original Ghostbusters movie wasn't really a comedy movie, it was a Action Horror with some Jokes. The new movie was just a comedy movie, which looked like a Spoof along the lines of "Scary Movie". I have no idea who they were marketing it towards.

Lets take sequels:

* They have also totally squandered two solid Sci-fi Action Movie franchises (Alien and Predator) to the point where the previous low points of the franchises look good (Alien vs Predator and Alien 3 & Alien 4: Resurrection).

* Star Wars has been completely ruined from a fan's perspective. The prequels (in the 2000s) has some terrible acting, iffy CGI now but I can at least appreciate what they were attempting to do and it was an honest attempt by Lucas to flesh out Star Wars universe. However the new Sequels go from "This is Okay, but it is the 1977 movie retold essentially" to terrible (The Last Jedi).

The Last Jedi doesn't make any sense on quite a number of levels. It also ruins one of beloved characters on screen and it was probably intentionally written to not only upset the fans but also kill the franchise i.e. there is at least one scene where Kylo Ren says to audience pretty much "Let the past die, kill if you have to", which is the director pretty much sticking his middle finger up to the fans. Yes in the scene he was speaking to whoever the main character is that doesn't seem to have a personality, but it was really a message from the director to the fans.

They also attacked the fan base (not a good move) because they didn't like a terrible movie. While the movies made money, they have tarnished the brand in the long term.

Disney bought Lucas Film because of Star Wars and monetising the fan base. Lucas Film under Kathleen Kennedy have tried driving away their a dedicated fan base. This strategy is madness.

2) The Hollywood Elite (and they are Elite) have forgotten they are actors and actively show distain for the audience. I don't really want to get into a political commentary, but they literally had The Avengers do an online piece of activism where they told the Electoral college to defy the 2016 Presidential Election result. This doesn't go unnoticed by the average movie goer. Just under half of the Country voted for the current president and then they do an advert where they are pretty much putting a middle finger up at the people who voted for Trump. A lot of those people took their kids to see those movies or saw went to see them themselves.

Audiences will forgive actors for quite a lot of things, but if they continually keep on pushing this audiences will associate them with their politics and not what roles they played.

They are actors. I want them to pretend to be Black Widow, not lecture me about Politics. I will go and listen to a political commentator if I wanted that.

3) Bollywood and the rest of Asia are making their own movies which kick ass. Take "The Raid 2". It has plenty of brutal fight scenes, but it also has a top quality plot about gangs, undercover cops etc. It is amazing to watch. A lot of guys are looking at overseas cinema because Hollywood isn't catering to them.

4) User generated content. I think the only movie I've watched recently was John Wick 1, 2 and 3. I recently listened to a recorded lecture series of the History of Islam on Youtube made by some guy who lives in Azerbaijan. I can listen for effectively nothing 1000s of hours of interviews of Joe Rogan and a Guest just talking for 3 hours about sometimes absolute nonsense or talking about say Leaving a Cult (Megan Phelps interview). I recently watched a series of lectures about the database as a filesystem from some Linux conference. There is a guy who made loads of mini-documentaries about old defunct computers systems and the quality now is on par with the Discovery Channel shows of the late 1990s.

5) Longer stories. Game of Thrones, The Wire and other shows that have very long running stories, lots of characters and complicated plots with lots of Lore have proven that audiences want more complicated stories. There is a guy called Alt-Shift-X on Youtube and he has huge number of people watching him and he just explains the Game of Thrones Lore of the Book vs the TV-series. Most Hollywood movies are pretty simple affairs in comparison.


>There is a guy who made loads of mini-documentaries about old defunct computers systems and the quality now is on par with the Discovery Channel shows of the late 1990s.

What channel is this? sounds great


Nostalgia Nerd. This is his one about the Atari ST:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2pX6bU7-pU

And the Amiga (Part 1 of 2)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ws3DJF7MbMU&t=3s

I don't watch a lot of this stuff anymore because I've seen the story told quite a few times.

Then there is Kim Justice, who does "History of <Games Company>" style videos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKjfs9hT3f4


I would also recommend XboxAhoy aka Ahoy. Stuart Brown's work is stunning and belongs could easily be broadcasted by the BBC.

> Just under half of the Country voted for the current president

Less than 30% of eligible voters (and an even smaller percentage of the country) did, actually.


Well it was just under 50% (what was it 47%-48%) of all the votes cast. The point I was trying to convey. Is that a very large amount of people (by your numbers 80-100 million people) that you don't respect the outcome of a legitimate democratic process.

It is fine to say "I wish the outcome was different", but trying to undermine it is something else entirely. That sort of thing isn't forgotten about.


This type of rant is exactly why most of us find the "fandom" so tedious.

I find unconstructive comments which hand waive away valid criticism by trying to tie you to a group (in this case fans) to be a disingenuous.

> He told us he didn't want to see it because they(Disney) were just taking a 2D movie that he'd already seen and are just doing the same thing again

Interestingly, the original Aladdin is no longer available for sale. Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, Walmart....whatever.

You either need to buy a disc from a garage sale, or pirate it.


Not just an Aladdin thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney_Vault

> The "Disney Vault" was a term used by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for its policy of putting home video releases of Walt Disney Animation Studios's animated features on moratorium. Each Disney film was available for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put "in the vault" and not made available in stores for several years until its re-release. With the announcement of Disney's forthcoming streaming service Disney+—scheduled for launch in the United States on November 12, 2019—Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that the service will contain Disney's entire film library, which would de facto retire the concept of the Disney Vault for good.


Except "Song of the South." Disney doesn't talk about that one.

> He told us he didn't want to see it because they(Disney) were just taking a 2D movie that he'd already seen and are just doing the same thing again with actors to make more money

On-point... next one on the pipeline is "MULAN" Cartoon to Real Human.


News flash, all major motion pictures are created "just to make money". I like the Disney animations and rather enjoy the live action remakes.

I also enjoy remakes of classic movies. It doesn't appear that I am alone.

But what is the criticism really? That they are making something they know lots of people will like?

It's not like a remake is any less effort than an original.

Even the script has to be rewritten and I would guess it takes even more effort to come up with a rewrite that doesn't stray too far from the original.


The new Mulan is going to be closer the original story, not a 1:1 remake.

Hollywood's doing just fine.

While people bemoan the constant blockbuster remakes, they forget the dozens and hundreds of other movies that Hollywood also makes which people don't watch...because they don't want to.

Hollywood pushes blockbusters because they're the surest bets for making lots of money. But they also make lots of artsy films because many of the folks want to do something more rewarding than a vapid blockbuster.

(BTW, Netflix is part of Hollywood now. Arguably, the most Hollywood of the modern studios, as they're actually the only major media company to have studios physically located in Hollywood.)


Unless you live in or near a fairly large urban center, or some large college towns, you won't find movie theaters showing small films.

On the other hand they are easier than ever to stream.

Legal streaming has more movies than a good video shop had 20 years ago. Less legal distribution has even more.


Why are you blaming Hollywood for the lack of local distribution?

Hollywood made the movies. It's up to the local theater to actually show them. They generally don't because it's not worth the money to do so outside of big cities and college towns.

(Hollywood hasn't controlled the theater industry since 1948, when the courts ruled that studios owning theaters was a violation of antitrust law. See United States v. Paramount.)


This won't work for them forever, and I think everyday people are catching on to the fact that they're just being resold the same stuff they've already bought.

Not according to the numbers....

https://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/?view2=ytdcompare


Yup. My kids are sick of what Disney has done to the Star Wars franchise. They, we, have less than zero interest of seeing any new contrived episodes and even less interest in going to Disneyland to see Star Wars land.

I would posit if you want new original programming you might want to watch documentaries.

Then again, I have a backlog of many many 5-star documentary movies to watch, but I rarely watch them... in favor of much more formulaic hollywood movies.


> Hollywood is hanging itself by its own velvet rope.

There you go, that's one better than the alleged Lenin witticism "The capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

(Well researched, as usual, here: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/02/22/rope/)

Disintermediation strikes again.


Interesting. I wasn't aware of that, but maybe it slipped into my consciousness from somewhere.

Might, might not, I was just amused at revolutionaries becoming unemployed through DIY.

Comrade Karl did not know half of it when he penned "The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part."

(https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-m... - it's a good free verse poem, actually, what with the "All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned" line, among others. 'Tis pity the slaughter it drove.)


I think it's a combination of things, but primarily we are in a low interest environment.

Money is looking desperately for something to invest in and the problem of Hollywood and cable companies was that they made too much money. Netflix was a distributor who figured that out and was creating a low subscription model for content.

When the content producers realised this Netflix was exposed, they knew they would not renew their contracts and as a defensive measure just started producing content like mad. They had all this leverage because the market is flooded with money and they have a pretty stable revenue stream.

Netflix is what Napster was for music, because movies were always too big to pirate it took a little longer. Now it's too late, people don't buy a CD with one song for $12 dollars and they won't pay $100 for a cable subscription any longer.


The lower cost vs cable is a mirage. Once TV is finished balkanizing into separate streaming services, expect the cost of signing up for everything you had on cable to add up to about the cost of a cable subscription.

Most people I know cycle through the streaming services instead of subscribing to everything on the market. Streaming video is a very different product than cable. A single service gives you more on-demand content than you could ever watch. There's no particular rush to see a series since every season of a show is usually available. With cable you need the hundreds of channels to have any chance of finding something to watch, and if you miss it when it's live then too bad.

So people keep repeating that we're going to end up paying $100 a month for our subscription services, but I am going to happily keep paying about $12 a month. A quick google found an article from 2015 that Netflix is estimated to have about 35k hours of content. Another article claimed that Netflix adds an additional 3k hours of content each year. Do you really need to subscribe to 2x, 3x or 5x that amount all at once?


Everything is distributed in my family. I'm on my parents netflix, my brother's hbogo, and I offer my hulu account. There's probably another half dozen close friends who've ended up with these passwords one way or another as well.

Pretty much all my peers are bumming someone's password, too.


The problem with cable is that the lowest subscription amount was highly priced. Even with Balkanization, you can now simply choose to get less and pay less.

I have stayed with Netflix since it became available in Denmark and have been on/off with HBO but now that I have seen chernobil and finished got I have cancelled it.

Perhaps I will sign up for something else later or even return if something else comes on.


Honestly I'm expecting the whole industry to crash hugely. I've received so many free cinema tickets to mainstream cinemas in the past 3 years that I haven't once actually paid to see anything by a major studio in that time, and I'm someone who goes to the cinema once a week on average. Much like MoviePass I assume _someone_ is paying for all those trips I go on for free, and when they stop paying I'm not going to go anywhere near 90% of those films. Meanwhile the specified prices of cinema tickets have grown and grown to the point that I'm honestly appalled when I hear how much people go to see such and such a new blockbuster on release day.

And on the TV side of things Netflix seem focused on making consumable content over anything that endures. I can't think of any shows of theirs that're going to age as well as HBOs finest have and I can see that being an issue in the long term when they don't have these kind of pillars to fall back on. It all seems focused on hyping people up into subscribing and then hoping that they forget about the subscription cost indefinitely.


One of the most frustrating things for me regarding ticket prices is that no theatres in my hometown (Winnipeg, Manitoba) offer matinee pricing anymore.

I'm guessing this is possibly because of the Cineplex monopoly since they bought out Famous Players.

I get so pissed off with paying $16 to see a movie by myself in an empty auditorium during the day when it used to be $8 a seat. What happened to supply and demand?

As for the whole Netflix = consumable content thing, I completely agree. Maybe they come up with a good first season because of big data... there's no overall plan where to take the story and usually the follow up seasons are terrible.

Look at a show like Santa Clarita Diet- I'm positive that show had absolutely no idea how to explain anything or how to wrap it up.


Yikes, $16, that's terrible. Movies in Cambridge, MA (includes many indie and foreign selections) can be had for $9 if you go to a matinee, or buy in books of 25, or patronize a local restaurant. They also have give away free ticket giveaways about once a month. The theater on the opposite side of town has a $4.75 matinee every Tuesday.

When I was a kid in the mid 70s movies cost $3.00 in the Midwest. Westegg says that inflation is up 10x since then. Any movie less than $20 is actually a bargain. However, my dad's salary was 7,000x a movie ticket (Midwest CS professor before salaries exploded).

When I was a kid in the 90's, I could see a movie for $1.50 in the evenings or $1 for a matinee ... in the midwest. They weren't first run movies, but rather movies that were in between their time in the movies and when they went to video. I'm guessing a few of them might have been on HBO during that time frame, but it really didn't matter.

Some years later, that theater quit doing the second run movies and switched to regular movies. I feel kind of lucky that it was after I moved away and had basically quit going to theaters anyway.

I'd probably go more often if things were of similar cheapness. The low cost also meant that I'd be more willing to see comedies and take chances on other movies that don't truly benefit from a large screen and sound system. I also wasn't all that out of sorts if the movie wasn't very good since even at that time, it wasn't much money.

I truly think the advantage of movies in the 70's and early 80's was the lack of popular home video. If you didn't see the movie, you missed out. And I think that helped afford somewhat higher prices, though they didn't need to charge less for second showings as they used to do (Disney cartoons, for example).


You make some interesting points regarding the current exhibition business. Before, Hollywood had a monopoly over the cinemas. Between 70 to 90 per cent of ticket sales would go to the studio of the film, hence the expensive food.

But, when the industry switched to digital projectors, the studios offered the VPF (virtual print fee) where cinemas got to keep a big chunk of the ticket sales to offset the cost of the projectors.

You could equip a 35mm film booth for as little as $7500 using old gear. Brand new was about $50,000 while digital projectors debuted at $100,000 and up.

Now, the theatres are keeping more of the ticket sales (50-70%) and they're charging for all sorts of "innovations" or upgrades (3D, ultra giant screens, fake IMAX screens, Dolby Atmos sound). All in 20-year-old multiplexes from the late-90's/early-00's expansion boom.

Did you have to pay a surcharge for stadium seating? Surround sound? Cupholders? No.

I think the current cinema chains are ripe for disruption.


I still see movies for $6 a pop in central Massachusetts. (They just recently increased their price from $5.) You can't see movies there when they first come out, but they serve beer and cheap burgers.

Wow, what mailing lists are you on that give you weekly tickets to mainstream cinemas? I'd love to get on that.

The main one is my health insurance, which consistently gives me a free cinema ticket ever fortnight (was every week) for walking distances I'd've walked anyway. Mubi gives me free cinema tickets each week to a designated film. My phone network gave free ones occasionally for a while too, have switched networks since but I believe they still do.

Those tickets are all paid through the services you are mentioning though. The health insurance, the phone network and Mubi don't get those tickets for free. You do pay a fraction of the tickets through those subscriptions, and a lot of people are paying this fraction too but whithout taking advantage of those tickets, so actualy spending money on movie theatre tickets not even knowing it :)

Maybe I phrased it poorly but that was my point. It's free to me but when it comes to box office numbers they can still claim record breaking figures partially off the back of it. As far as the economics stand right now everything is going good but this kind of thing will have a long term knock on effect towards the perceived value of a trip to the cinema.

These companies won't endlessly do that, there's weird stuff going on with the numbers to prop up the unsustainable cinema prices and it isn't going to last. I'd say the industry is increasingly reliant on opening weekend hypefests leading to crazy preorder rates too, which actually might hold up even though I find it grim for wholly different reasons.


if it is free you are the product

Cinemas show so many ads I would not be surprised playing movies is just a side gig.


I just wanted to disagree with the author's assertion :

>[Netflix has] "slowly reconstructed the old vertically integrated studio system. The company is an integrated production and streaming service."

Netflix is probably the least integrated business in Hollywood when it comes to production. To use an analogy, think of content as sausage.

Netflix doesn't make the sausage and they don't care about how it's made. They pay people a lot of money to do it, and that's about it. They're in the business of distributing the sausage. They also buy a lot of bulk sausage that they found at a sausage festival, meaning they had no stake before it was made.

(some) Traditional studios do care a lot about the making of the sausage. To make sausage for them, you have to buy their spices, use their casings, and go to a meat supplier that they recommend and might have a co-ownership stake in with other sausage distributors. That's not a bad thing, making sausage is complicated with a lot of people involved - the studios give you a good deal by removing that complexity, and helps keep your costs down before you get to see a profit.


Netflix doesn't make the sausage and they don't care about how it's made. They pay people a lot of money to do it, and that's about it. They're in the business of distributing the sausage. They also buy a lot of bulk sausage that they found at a sausage festival, meaning they had no stake before it was made.

This is quite literally the opposite of the truth...

Netflix makes a lot of the "sausage". They use roughly the same organizational and production structure that the other big studios use to make and distribute films. They have some of the biggest studio spaces in Hollywood, behind only Disney/Fox, Universal, Sony, and Paramount. If you live in the LA area, you can actually visit some of their studios (though generally to tour the facilities you need to arrange for a tour in advance).

The primary difference is in how Netflix pays for the films: Netflix pays extra upfront, with no backend. The studios payout participants over time.


It's a bit weird to say they have "some of the biggest" spaces if you don't count everyone else of note. But backlots and shootling locations are just a part of the recipe. Look at the end credits of Netflix originals and compare them to Disney, especially w.r.t. the VFX and post production shops. That's the difference in vertical integration I was trying to point out.

It's a bit weird that you think Hollywood is only 5 studios. That would be like saying Silicon Valley is just FAANG. There are dozens of studios in LA alone, not including the studios in NY, Atlanta, and Vancouver.

Netflix is the 5th biggest studio in Hollywood (the industry) but is the biggest studio actually located in Hollywood (the neighborhood of LA) as the other major studios have their own facilities in other neighborhoods or cities of LA. (Sony = Culver City, Fox/Disney = Century City and Burbank, Paramount = Mid City, Universal = Universal City.)

Comparing the end credits for Netflix originals and Disney films, I see no difference in the amount of vertical integration. Netflix films generally aren't VFX heavy so there isn't as much outsourcing that needs to be done. Disney films are, and most VFX shots are outsourced since (a) it's cheaper and (b) the specialized VFX shops are usually faster and more nimble than in-house VFX teams. Compare the end credits for thein-house VFX-heavy Netflix original like Bright and Mute. They have just as much outsourcing as a Disney film.

(Source: I count Fox Searchlight, Vendome, and Sony Pictures as former clients and I currently work for a media company. I'm well versed in how movies are made.)


Netflix also has lots of detailed data about what kind of ingredients people want in their sausage.

Would make sense for them to start being quite specific with the suppliers what they want to get.

This is not just on high level. You could track on individual episodes and even inside episodes (for example do you pause, switch to another app).


The "ingredients" in this analogy are mostly human capital/contractors and locations used in pre/production/post. For example, Netflix doesn't really have the ability to see how much the choice of caterer on set influences their churn.

That's contrived, but I hope it illustrates the point. There are dozens to hundreds of these contractors who work on serious productions, and some studios are more integrated than others when it comes to hiring them for different phases of the process. And the sheer amount of real estate and personnel involved in these ecosystems is beyond what Netflix is capable of exploiting today.

And while Netflix is uniquely capable of collecting some extremely useful data (which they guard like the crown jewels), I'm not aware of them getting granular with production pipelines to see how changes influence their revenue. And if they were, I'd be skeptical given the amount of variance, since every production is different despite massive efforts to standardize the process. It's a very human problem domain.


Netflix is in fact getting quite granular with production pipelines, as evidenced by this blog post - https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/studio-production-data-s...

Highly recommended reading! Don't let the catchy title fool you.

This passage, in particular, stuck with me:

> "But there’s no reason we have to build a highly concentrated storytelling industry on top of the internet, which used to be the most decentralized communications technology ever imagined in human history. The answer to the question of whether Hollywood can be saved is, a resounding YES. Fundamentally streaming is a commodity service; Netflix isn’t anything special, it’s just a good infrastructure service which has morphed into a monster attempting to control our access to content. Disney is just trying to become a monopoly studio of branded must-have content, and reproduce Netflix’s power. Movie chains are too big. And so on and so forth. These are all just political choices. In other words, we should aim to restore open markets for content again. This means separating out the industry into production, distribution, and retailing."

The article makes a persuasive case, I think, that market structure is indeed a political choice.


> There’s much less of a market, and much less information circulating, even though we have the internet and much better mechanisms for moving information to one another.

I think it is because of the internet and better moving information that there is a lack of a market and the "slow roll" doesn't work anymore.

If a movie is bad, most people will know after the first day. Also, back in the day you'd just show up at the theater and pick a movie after dinner, because it was a pain to look that stuff up ahead of time. Then you'd pick a movie that maybe you'd seen an ad for and watch it.

Now, you'll pull out your cell phone at dinner, see what movie starts next, check the reviews and tweets, and then pick another one if it's bad. Before you ever get to the theater. And if there is nothing good, you'll do something else.

You can't get away with making a bad movie anymore like you could in the 80s. I saw a lot of bad movies in the 80s and 90s.

I don't see bad movies anymore because it's so easy to avoid them.


This applies to a lot of things.

I actually feel like the constraints on supply in my childhood enabled me to experience a wider range of media than I otherwise might have. Sure, I read a lot of crappy books and terrible TV ( or good stuff that is outside my immediate interests) back then because there wasn't anything else but that in of itself was an experience.

That's lost when I can pick anything and just drop anything that doesn't have the right genre and is 5 star on whatever rating service I used.


Gotten to the point where the research has gotten too stressful. Feels like there’s a lot of pressure choosing the best movie to invest 2 hrs of my life!

Now I find it more relaxing to go based on just the trailers and enjoy the bad ones when they happen.


I'm typically a "when in doubt, free markets" type, but the three tier system (production, distribution, and retailing) has numerous advantages. The craft beer boom, for example, would never have happened in the absence of a legally-mandated 3 tier system. Not only did this result in greater consumer choice, but it also allowed small businesses to thrive in a sector where there are significant economies of scale. I think similar benefits would be realized in the art world, with similar exceptions for very small studios that usually don't have access to the same distribution channels.

> The craft beer boom, for example, would never have happened in the absence of a legally-mandated 3 tier system.

Really? I'm not intimately familiar with it, but I've heard the exact opposite. Big distributors are already partnered with the big guys, so small guys had a lot of trouble getting distribution and couldn't do it themselves. There are also silly restrictions. I toured the Budweiser factory in St Louis, got a sample right out of the finishing tanks. We walked 30ft to their Hospitality room where they offered more free drinks, except those were weeks old because they had to go offsite to a distribution center.

I'm not saying the 3 tier system is bad or needs to be abolished, just that I find it odd that it facilitated craft beer. I do think it (and the low shelf life of beer) has kept craft beer regional--which is something I personally like when traveling.


I feel like you contradict yourself. You point out that "Big distributors are already partnered with the big guys, so small guys had a lot of trouble getting distribution and couldn't do it themselves." Right, the legally mandated change solved this problem for the little guys.

I'm not following you but maybe I wasn't clear. Yes, producers and distributors are separate, but distributor's main clients are the few large producers. Small guys have trouble getting distribution either because it's not worth the time of the distributors or the large producers strong-arm the distributors. If producers could distribute, they'd just drop their product off at the bar/store themselves.

> "when in doubt, free markets"

Monopolies are antithetical to the free market, and vertical integration in industries with high economies of scale does create substantial monopoly concerns! The best market-based solution, so far as we can tell, is precisely to carve out the monopoly-prone "tier" in the industry (this is not always easy as monopoly-potential is not always correctly judged; it's more about inherent lack of contestability creating a sort of undue "power" over the rest of the market, and not so much merely a high market share by any single actor) and require it to act as an open platform to the rest of the market, perhaps even nationalizing it if necessary (this is, after all, the basic rstionale for why many public services are provided by the government). So the regulators in the beer industry may have come out with something quite close to the best known approach, if perhaps not for the same reasons.


> even nationalizing it if necessary (this is, after all, the basic rstionale for why many public services are provided by the government)

Note that those public services generally aren't nationalized. The local water utility is typically operated by the city, not the feds.


s/nationalised/deprivatised/

Or, you know, socialised.


There's a pretty big difference between the local town and the entire nation. If a municipal gas company provides poor service in your town, a mayor who doesn't address it is going to have trouble in the next election. If a nationalized gas company provides poor service in your town, good luck making that the issue a US presidential election turns on.

And socialized isn't really right either. There is a significant difference between e.g. "socialized medicine" meaning taxpayer-funded healthcare vs. municipal utilities that you pay for as a customer thereby covering the service cost, and may not even require you to patronize them if you don't want service, even if they happen to be operated by the government.

I wish they would actually formalize the latter arrangement as something that anyone could set up on their own, i.e. something similar to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which is established to provide a subscription service and whose directors are required to be elected by the long-term subscribers. Then you might operate an ISP that way, but also potentially things like news reporting and software development.


> something similar to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which is established to provide a subscription service and whose directors are required to be elected by the long-term subscribers.

That's a co-op, surely? It's not exactly unknown!


Socialism, as with capitalism refers to ownership, not payment mechanism:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/socialism

Ad-funded media is indirectly paid just as tax-funded healthcare is, though side effects differ.

I agree that scale affects accountability, but again, that's orthogonal to ownership. And locally owned (or operated) services can be extraordinarily unresponsive to (at least some) local needs:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/10/1...


> Socialism, as with capitalism refers to ownership, not payment mechanism:

From your link:

> any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

The distinction in this case being the distribution of goods. When you have the ability to say that you don't want something and you're not going to pay for it (and then go buy as much as you want from someone else), it's not socialism.

> Ad-funded media is indirectly paid just as tax-funded healthcare is, though side effects differ.

The difference again being that you have a choice. You're not trading cash for access to YouTube, but you're trading something, and if you prefer not to make that trade then there is no law requiring you to make it.

> I agree that scale affects accountability, but again, that's orthogonal to ownership.

Nobody said otherwise. The point wasn't that nationalizing an industry doesn't imply government ownership, it was that it does imply national rather than local control, which is generally neither necessary nor beneficial.

> And locally owned (or operated) services can be extraordinarily unresponsive to (at least some) local needs:

Even in that case, the local government was responsive to the local majority, the problem was that what the local majority wanted was dastardly.

But even that case proves why local control is better -- if one locality wants something you don't, you patronize another one. You buy from the Sears catalog instead of local racists, or move to the North.

What do you do in prior years when the national government is overtly protecting slavery and passing things like the Fugitive Slave Act?

The best case for nationalizing is a little better but the worst case is much worse.


the local government was responsive to the local majority

Needn't be the case -- Apartheid South Africa comes to mind, or English-occupied Ireland.

And in the case I'd illustrated, it was local businesses running the postal franchise who were discriminating, not (just) the local government.

I think you're rather off base on your first argumnt as well, though I don't care to continue that point.


> Needn't be the case -- Apartheid South Africa comes to mind, or English-occupied Ireland.

Which of these are supposed to be instances of local control? The first is where the majority of the local population didn't have the franchise, the second a central government imposing its will on local people.

> And in the case I'd illustrated, it was local businesses running the postal franchise who were discriminating, not (just) the local government.

How is that worse than when it's the central government getting it wrong, where the equivalent would be a federal prohibition on anyone delivering packages to black people anywhere?


The point is that neither local vs. national, government vs. business, market vs. nonmarket, nor majority vs. minority strictly deliver a fail treatment to all. Power and discrimination will out.

Moral, fair, and equitable opportunity is not neatly slotted into any ideological political-economy pigeonhole.


> the three tier system (production, distribution, and retailing) has numerous advantages

Do you see cable tv as a successful implementation of this? Every few years I'll see news articles and billboards about "Fox couldn't negotiate a deal with Dish." It'll be unavailable for a few weeks until they reach a deal, but in the meantime both sides blame each other and the customer goes without. Not to mention cable adding commercials after charging a monthly fee and constantly increasing their prices. There's also the complaint about only watching 2-3 things--I only ever watched small a handful of channels (I don't hear similar complaints about Netflix).

I can see people arguing that's the system working, or it's failing due to oligopolies, or the practical friction of changing cable services is just different than buying a DVD from Target.


For all the complaints about cable, what we are transitioning into is significantly worse, with a bunch of different concentrated streaming services.

The Fox-Dish battles were basically what helped keep prices lower for viewers.

Right now, customers have no big player on their side, so essentially the only way to fight Netflix price increases is on a purely individual level, which rarely works. Dish would concentrate the power of its many subscribers.


People have clamored for a la carte pricing for a long time. Well, the direction we're headed is a response to that, albeit not a good response from the view of consumers. We'll have to start managing which services we pay for - subscribe, binge, unsubscribe, move to the next service, repeat.

The smaller players will sell out to the bigger players. The bigger players will gain additional leverage against content providers. This is the market functioning.

What amazes me every time I think about this is the ever-present short-term thinking by these companies: gain subscribers now, take as much money as we can now, and the downside will be dealt with by the next generation of executives in three years. While consumers' economy is affected negatively almost immediately and for the long term.


The direction we're headed isn't a la carte pricing, it's bundled pricing from different companies.

The thinking is a lot longer term than it seems. The US stopped enforcing antitrust laws, and if that continues it's going to take a lot longer than 3 years for anyone but consumers to feel the pain. We're watching Disney and Netflix execute a 2 decade "gather all the market power and reap the benefits" plan. There's really no one to threaten them.


I kind of agree with you on that. People don't seem to have much sympathy about multiple subscriptions services. The mantra is to cancel subscriptions to whatever you're not watching ATM, but with young children that's untenable (I'd prefer to just outright buy, but discoverability and availability doesn't always work like that).

It does suck when Comcast is fighting with ESPN and you don't care because your kid just wants to watch the Disney channel.


>The mantra is to cancel subscriptions to whatever you're not watching ATM, but with young children that's untenable

Young children don't need to watch TV, in fact it'd be better if they didn't watch any at all. Maybe have some DVDs they can watch when they want; that's certainly a lot cheaper than any kind of subscription.


Adults don't need to watch TV, either. I think society at large undervalues appropriate use of TV for kids. Kids crave structure, repetition, and music. With proper restrictions, TV offers all of that without requiring adults to put on the same dog and pony show every day. While studies show it doesn't help with speech, it can help reinforce concepts they are learning in other mediums; animals, objects, movement, emotions. As an adult, there's so much collective culture from TV and movies I consumed as a teenager that come up when interacting with other people.

I already mentioned I would much prefer to purchase outright, but kids tend to get into very specific things and a lot of things available for streaming aren't sold on DVDs; discoverability and availability. Another problem with DVDs is that they're fragile and difficult for young kids to operate themselves--not to mention I don't have a DVD player. I've heard a lot of parents get very angry that expensive Disney DVDs got scratched or broken, whereas VHS was a lot more durable and straightforward for kids to operate themselves.

Kids, young adults, or even having more than a few people in a house it's hard to say, "You can't watch Sesame Street like you did yesterday because Game of Thrones is over."


There is no such thing as a free market. The sooner Americans accept this maybe we can move forward towards a society where we don't allow businesses to engage in predatory practices under the guise of "free market ideology". Like Uber/Lyft price dumping for the past decade. We're ruining the taxi industry for what exactly? So a bunch of millionaires can lose money for 20 years because they are selling billionaires on the idea of having a monopoly.

They "ruined" the taxi industry because it was anti-consumer and absolutely horrible. That's why it was so easy for them to "ruin" it (read: make it so much better).

Seriously, you think it's "ruining" an industry to have a convenient smartphone app instead of having to call someone on a phone and hope a driver shows up within 2 hours? And then have a driver that doesn't use a taximeter, drives around in circles, and just makes up a price on the spot? Maybe you never tried using cabs in the suburbs before the invention of Uber/Lyft.


The taxi industry ruined itself long before anyone conceived of Uber or Lyft. There was nothing stopping the taxi industry from creating Uber. They had the regulatory capture to make it happen much easier than how Uber and Lyft built themselves. Even without Uber or Lyft the taxi industry was busy pushing their customers into purchasing private automobiles because taxi service was so awful.

This entire article is flawed because of the premise that Netflix is a monopoly.

There were 495 active scripted shows in 2018 - 146 more than in 2013 (https://gazette.com/arts-entertainment/the-number-of-scripte...). There are also more avenues than ever to shop around a scripted show including five networks - as opposed to three four decades ago and many cable channels. In the 80s and 90s, most cable channels were just showing reruns of network shows.

You also have multiple streaming services backed by companies with far more money than Netflix either already on the market or coming within the next year. Including Disney, WarnerMedia, Apple, Sony, etc.

My dad was an avid movie goer for decades. Since we got him a Roku TV, he goes to the movies a lot less frequently. There may be a near monopoly on movie screens, but there are a lot more outlets and large screen TVs are incredibly cheap.


The article doesn't say that Netflix is a monopoly.

It mentions that investors are pricing it based on hope that it could become a monopoly, which is explicitly saying that Netflix is not a monopoly.


I don't think it makes sense to define monopoly as a binary state. There are ways that companies with monopoly power behave even if you can argue the company itself isn't a monopoly.

And, for what it's worth, copyright owners are the canonical monopolies. There's no suitable replacement for Stranger Things. What's new is that TV show copyright owners are now able to monopolize distribution.

I get that there's a more diverse set of good content, you'd expect that to happen with the explosion of the internet. But that's happening in spite of monopolist behavior, not because of it. Most of the wealth in movie/tv creation is getting captured by a smaller group of companies.

Hence the article focusing on Netflix canceling shows after the second season. The creators of shows make more money when they run a long time, Netflix would prefer to keep those people working for cheap if it doesn't create churn.


Compare Netflix’s library to Disney’s, especially with the Fox acquisition. Which library would you rather have going into the next decade?

I don't think people will give Netflix subscriptions for Disney, I think they'll buy both.

I'm sure Netflix would rather have Disney's library, but there's always a second place in a duopoly.


But the problem is there is a chance that Netflix could be fourth at least in the US. Especially with Disney taking over Hulu. Hulu is already only $5.99 a month with commercials and $12.99 a month with no commercials. Disney will be moving most of it’s less kid friendly content over to Hulu. Disney Plus will only be $7.99. It’s not hard to imagine a bundled price for both - with better content - that’s less than Netflix.

If someone has Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video (because everyone already has Amazon Prime), do they really need the low budget originals on Netflix?


Disney owns Hulu, I expect that'll be rolled into Disney+. I might be over estimating Netflix's skill in this area, but I suspect they are really good at converting production money into subscribers.

All that said, none of this is good for creators or customers, it doesn't really matter if Netflix is first, second, or dead.


Disney isn’t going to roll Hulu into Disney+. Why would they when they can charge for both. Besides, Disney+ is suppose to be family friendly. Hulu isn’t it.

Disney doesn’t own Hulu outright yet. Warner Bros still has its 10% stake and Comcast still has its stake for now.


Technically they don't own it outright yet, but they have full control as of May 14: https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/disney-full-control-hu...

I suspect that Peak Netflix is already behind us. They've been quite frank that in their current incarnation they're aiming to become the next HBO (see https://gizmodo.com/netflix-the-goal-is-to-become-hbo-faster...), and while HBO was definitely the "gold standard" of prestige TV, it was never anywhere near crowding out its many rivals.

The big question mark hanging over this plan is that they are burning tons of borrowed money to achieve it. Do those investors think they're buying into HBO 2.0, or do they think they're buying into a future monopoly? The sheer amount of money they've been able to raise suggests the latter, which means those investors are going to be unpleasantly surprised at some point down the road.


Calculating Netflix profitability over the short term is hard because it’s difficult to value the residuals from their IP. If for example stranger things is still being watched in 20 years that’s less content they then need to pay for over time.

I don’t think they are creating a lot of valuable content right now. But, that’s more option than fact.


Do you really want to compare the value of Netflix’s IP to that of Disney or Warner?

It’s not about the situation today. Right now Netflix is paying Disney quite a bit of money to use their IP, but that really can change with time.

That’s not the point. Disney will soon have their own streaming service with a much better library.

That’s likely to present a problem.

Disney has a lot of depth in their library, but are unlikely to drastically reduce DVD/Blueray/etc sales by including the full thing. Meanwhile customers are going to be disappointed unless they have full access to their entire catalog for a very low monthly fee.

They may leverage the thing to surpass Netflix’s 150 million customer base. But, it’s far from a forgone conclusion at this point.


Disney has a lot of preexisting deals that they are waiting to expire. But they have said that as deals expire, they will be bringing everything to Disney+.

From the CEO:

https://www.digitaltrends.com/movies/disney-plus-tv-shows-mo...

During an investors’ meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger claimed that every single movie in the Disney catalog will arrive on Disney Plus “at some point fairly soon after launch.” Previously, Disney only released its most popular animated films on home video on a limited-time basis in order to make them feel more special. However, the so-called Disney “vault” is going to vanish when Disney Plus arrives.

On day one.

https://variety.com/2019/digital/news/disney-plus-lineup-sho...


Movies are only one piece. The Disney also has a lot of TV content and even a 67% ownership share in existing streaming service Hulu.

I mean if their existing streaming service is firmly in edit: third place and they are looking to add a second that’s just not a great sign.


To actually quote from TFA:

> The story is that users will buy Netflix streaming services and it will be too much trouble to switch to a different service, which is a variant of a phenomenon called “lock-in.” So no one will be able to compete, the company will be able to raise prices and lower costs, and voila, another Amazon-style monopoly. It will be one of the few left standing after the inevitable shake-out.

This doesn't strike me as a flawed premise. Stoller suggests this is a variant of lock-in, not actual lock-in, and makes the comparison to Amazon. Amazon's selection is huge and their convenience is indisputable, and we've become so used to just going to Amazon first that we often don't bother to check whether they actually have the best price. (When I do actually check that, they often do, but they don't much more often than you might think.) And the price of Amazon Prime has increased by 50% in 5 years.

> You also have multiple streaming services backed by companies with far more money than Netflix either already on the market or coming within the next year...

When any streaming service that isn't Netflix is mentioned in an article, here or anywhere else, comments are filled with people complaining about subscription fatigue. How many of these services are actually going to survive, do you think? How many are you going to subscribe to? If you're already paying for three, or four, or five, how receptive are you really going to be to articles exhorting "The best show on TV in the last decade is exclusive to Service Number Six!"?

And, on point for the article, if you are already paying for three, or four, or five, Netflix is one of them, isn't it?

If you're only paying for two, Netflix is one of them, isn't it?

If you're only paying for one...?

And that's the premise of the article. I'm glad your dad's enjoying the Roku TV, but I don't think that makes Stoller fundamentally wrong.


Let’s take Disney - there biggest upcoming competitor by far.

The Disney brand and their library is much larger than Netflix’s. If anyone can break in Disney can.

Besides that, Disney has an evergreen library that goes back decades. The only war that Netflix has to make its money back off content are subscription fees. By the time a movie hits Disney+, it’s already made millions in revenue. Disney+ may “operate at a loss” for four or five years, but that’s only because it is “paying Disney” for the rights to distribute movies.

What if the other one is HBO+ - Warner Brothers announces streaming service? Now you have a choice between the two largest movie studios with popular movies everyone has heard of and you get Amazon Prime Video for free because let’s face it. Everyone has Amazon Prime.

What happens when Disney bundles Disney Plus and Hulu for the same price as Netflix? Now you have access to a much better library than Netflix.


Or the slow death of both. After Mad Men and House of Cards, I just kept Netflix around but not usually impressed since anything I found that was any good got cancelled on the second season. I had no idea this was intentional until reading this article.

So I cancelled when they raised the price and shared an account with a friend since I rarely used it. They raised the price again and he cancelled, but I don't miss it. Amazon Prime has enough content for me.


I remember when SyFy got a bad reputation for canceling their best shows. Seems a bold assumption that a paying customer base wouldn’t notice...

That's my problem with Netflix - they don't seem to strive for excellence in their content. I understand that a popular, good enough series that runs for 2 seasons is financially worthwhile but it doesn't lead to masterpieces like The Wire, The Sopranos or Mad Men. It's natural that the very best content is rare, but by now I'd have expected Netflix to come up with their own contribution to that league of shows. Then again, they seem to do fine regardless.

"In fact, median wages for writers are dropping quite quickly, down 23% from 2014 to 2016, which is a similar amount as the fall in earnings for book literary authors after Amazon launched its vertically integrated kindle e-book reader."

Couldn't this simply be an artefact of more authors entering the market (and filling out surveys). It doesn't seem conclusive as a scare metric.

As for the general article, at the moment more art seems to be produced than ever before. No matter what endgame Netflix has in mind, I don't see how they could achieve a monopoly situation as with the Hollywood firms if the past. There is now the internet, everybody can publish.

Diacoverability, maybe - so they would become the Google of movie search engines? How would they prevent for example Google becoming the Google of movie search engines? Google retains its dominance because it is also pretty good, so far.


Price of 1 movie ticket: $15 Price of small popcorn: $8 Price of small drink: $8 Price of small candy: $5 Total: $36

Time it took to drive to theater: 10 mins Time it took to wait in line for food: 10 mins Time it took to watch trailers: 25 mins Total: 45 mins

Buying the movie and watching it my house costs no more than $20 (when it first comes out) and I can make whatever I want to eat and don't have to drive anywhere. So I save money and time. Oh and I almost forgot, no children or people next to me coughing if I stay home.


Watch out, you're going to have some purist chime in about how worthwhile the "theater experience" is because it's "shared" or whatever. I see these arguments all the time on /r/movies; the movie snobs really hate people who watch movies at home and don't go to the theaters and put up with rude patrons, overpriced concessions, 25 minutes of commercials, etc.

These days it's entirely possible for cinephiles to have a very fine home cinema setup. Depending on how you live a projector and good sound system is far from outlandish.

As someone who loves films, but would have to drive at least 45 minutes to the next cinema which only shows current, popular movies in localized audio it's much more practical for me to watch whatever I want, wether it's a timeless classic or new, niche arthouse film, in my home cinema. Plus, food and drinks are way cheaper, the audience is mostly silent and I can pause/resume whenever I want.


>Plus, food and drinks are way cheaper

It's not just this: you can actually eat quality food, not junk food. I'm not a teenager any more, so I don't eat popcorn covered with fake butter and artificial flavors, or crappy candy, or soda, and instead I actually eat real and relatively healthy food. Sure, there's some higher-end "dinner theaters" that do serve real meals, but those aren't that common.

>the audience is mostly silent and I can pause/resume whenever I want.

Exactly. My cats don't make much noise, any guests I invite over are going to be quiet too, and it's really nice being able to pause when I need a bathroom break, or rewind if I didn't understand something (this happens to me with dialog sometimes), or if I want to talk with my companion about something.

Honestly, except for nostalgia for the old days when cinemas were the only way to see movies, I don't see what the attraction is compared to a decent home theater. Even a 55" screen is really good enough, and those are pretty cheap these days (especially compared to what I see people paying to go out to a movie as a couple or family).


Added advantage for me : no one making irritating sounds eating their $8 small popcorn or unwrapping their $5 candy.

Or texting with their searchlight bright cellphone.

[Netflix] now routinely ends shows after their second season, even when they’re still popular. Netflix has learned that the first two seasons of a show are key to bringing in subscribers—but the third and later seasons don’t do much to retain or win new subscribers.

- That's crazy and smart all at the same time. Definitely not user-centered design.


I don't particularly mind this. All the shows that I love usually peak within their first 3 seasons. I'd much rather a show end while it's good than for it to drag its feet for 7+ seasons and die with a whimper. Most viewers just follow trends and are fickle. This is Netflix's way of allowing shows to have fans but also stay viable(cool, hip, new, and full of zazz) for the general audience.

Two seasons seems a little short; maybe 3 would be better?

Just look at The Expanse; that one I thought did well with keeping me engaged, but they ended it (by design) after 3 seasons, and it seemed to be just the right length for the overall story arc they were going for.

Whereas Game of Thrones stayed interesting for a long time (6 seasons to be exact), but after that started faltering and in season 8 really became disappointing, mainly because the books they were basing it on had run out and they were now making things up as they went along.


Hey, HBO gets a show to season 8, and boom, https://www.reddit.com/r/freefolk/

I wasn't aware that Netflix was strategically aiming for 2 seasons show now. I kinda like that. I might like 3 better. But so many shows in the past have driven forward until they were unwatchable and cancelled. And with a timebox of 2 seasons, the writers can know exactly how big their story arc is, and can wrap everything up cleanly.

As far as the impact on Hollywood that this all has... I'm not trying to be rude, but I am having a hard time caring. Actors still have jobs, as do the tech crews. We still get entertainment. Aside from wanting to maintain the status quo, which HN usually isn't concerned with... why does it matter?


Enough "Art" and blockbuster comedies have not been produced apparently :)

I love going to the cinema, but I avoid Cineplex here in Canada like the plague.

They lack basic showmanship like dimming the lights (every showing I've been at in the past seven years they just flicked the lights off and started playing the movie and then the credits roll and BAM, full brightness).

Couple that with Cineplex being an "extract-every-penny and don't re-invest" business. The top reviews for their biggest theatre in town include comments such as "the carpet smells like corpse."

Honestly, if bad content will lead to the demise of this company, I say bring it on. Hopefully Landmark will escape largely unscathed.


"...Netflix’s strategy is straightforward market power exploitation. The company is cancelling shows that subscribers like, so it won’t have to pay creators the amount they would otherwise be able to get for making good commercially successful art. In other words, Netflix is subtly raising prices on subscribers and paying creators less for their work."

I wonder if this means in the future, the price for a first and second season labor will be higher, thereby locking out new competition to new original series.


It's hard to guess at the reason that Netflix is canceling these shows, but many shows simply have too many seasons. I suspect it's because the way the networks estimate their viewership (things like Nielsen households or telephone surveys) are less reliable than the detailed metrics that Netflix can track.

While everyone misses their favorite show when it's canceled, it could be as simple as viewership has dropped below some bar Netflix has established for that particular show. I don't think it needs to be as nefarious as large scale plan to depress the earnings of those who work on these shows.

Certainly it looks like it now makes sense to plan for a show running no more than two seasons and then negotiating appropriately.


I have this gripe that shows DO NOT need to run for 10 seasons. Breaking bad was a great example of a show that didn’t drag on, caught itself when it was starting to and pivoted and finished it strong. Now it’s a classic. Should there still be shows with 10 seasons? Sure. But most of them should be like 3-4-5 seasons. People lose interest. But if they knew that the only need to pay attention for 3-4 seasons, i think the shows could be more successful (for viewer attention span and for creators to work within a certain time frame and constraints).

Breaking Bad is not a great example, because the show was created with a defined length that fit the narrative. It had a certain beginning and and end in mind before it became a show. The studio wanted it to run longer, but the owners of the show said no.

The only major departure from Breaking Bad on paper and Breaking Bad in reality was Jesse Pinkman. He was originally only to be a bit character in one episode, but the showrunners liked Aaron Paul so much that he became a part of, and changed the tenor of the whole show.


The creators of Lost claimed they new exactly how that series was going to go, but watching it definitely felt like they were stringing things along to get to the 100 episode syndication threshold more than telling a fulfilling story.

I've been enjoying the limited-series shows, or shows that do not attempt to correlate multiple seasons together like Fargo. The first season of True Detective was done in the right number of episodes to get the story told without stringing it along. The studios forced a rushed second season that I pretend doesn't exist. HBO's Sharp Objects is another example of using just enough episodes to tell the story.


> Breaking Bad is not a great example, because the show was created with a defined length that fit the narrative.

Is that really true? Do you have a source? From what I’ve read, Gilligan only said that as they reached Season 5. The studios didn’t know that it will be 5 seasons. maybe Gilligan had the idea in his mind since the beginning but that’s what I’m trying to say. Studios should only green light shows with a predefined length. And of course they knew the narrative. You could stretch the narrative to 10 seasons or keep it at 2. Which is the point. Keep it short.


British shows mostly go the other way. All the classics seem to be one or two series where you wish they'd made one or two more, and series are often 6 or 8 episodes rather than the 10, 12 or "bleeding ridiculous" US series love. As our tv has got more American in style and business we've gained series that just won't die, even though so far past expiry date the corpse is rotting. (Big Brother? Apprentice? Celebrity anything...

The only downside to the shorter seasons is book adaptations often go at breakneck pace and take too many liberties.

As example, The Last Kingdom: First two series were BBC America and 8 episodes that covered 2 books a series. Pretty damn good adaption, pretty faithful to the books even with the brutal fast pace compression, and kept the real historical basis Cornwell is famous for. Maybe a bit tame and a little too "worthy" in places. It's King Alfred christianising early England and killing many heathen Danes, some "worthy" was unavoidable. :)

Third season is Netflix and no BBC, so instant 10 episodes a series, and it's unbelievably fucking shit. The gore, the dialogue, budget and plot all got turned up to 11, all the characters got entirely new personalities and the basis on the books got thrown out the window. Yet it drags and drags, because the highlights are constant now, so no contrast any more. Cornwell's famous historical basis laughed at and pissed on. Shark jumped multiple times. In wanting to make it more showy and mass market they killed any interest of the people who did watch it.

Another reason to think my Netflix sub is nearing its end.


Makes me think of how amazing the X-Files would have been had they fully developed and then concluded the mytharc. They could have ended with full-on hard core sci-fi and exploring the political and social implications of alien disclosure, not to mention good and bad humans and aliens and all the rest.

I agree completely, I even wish seasons were shorter. Very often the start and end to a season is strong, but the middle is filler.

That's how I feel about Silicon Valley (the TV show), despite liking it a lot. It had a strong story in season 1 (and somewhat 2), and it has plenty of great jokes and relevant commentary. However, I cannot recall anything about the overall storyline past season 2 at all, because the rest of the seasons follow the structure of:

episode 1: set up the direction for some conflict/direction of the season.

episode 2 - episode n-1: a bunch of filler material with wild movements and swaps with no particular direction.

episode n: after all the wild moves, the characters and the story ended up back in pretty much the exact same place where it started.

If you care just about the story, you can legitimately skip all seasons after 2 and jump straight into the newest one without missing out on any actual story development, minus some minor references and newer characters. Which is a shame, because of how strong and directed the story in season 1 was.


It's not just losing interest. Unless you catch it at the very end, when all seasons are produced, each new season carries a startup cost - you'll need to re-acquire a lot of knowledge about the world it's in. (Or, colloquially, "Who the fuck are those people and why do I care" ;)

At some point, it's too much. It's becoming work. And if you learn/relearn an entire world, why not something you haven't seen before? So the series gets ditched.


"The West Wing" is the one that hurt me in my heart place. I stopped watching when the meteor was hurtling towards the planet and I was relieved I wasn't still watching the show when they started to bring in musical guests.

In my opinion, most shows would do better with far fewer seasons.


I just started watching it this year. The writing is fantastic. I'm mid-way through Season 4. I hear it drops off after that with Sorkin's departure. Should I just pretend seasons 5-7 don't exist?

I suggest braving through season 5, I personally enjoyed the remaining seasons, especially the last one. They never reach 1-4 levels though.

I've long had something like a 5 season rule. Sure, some "high concept" show are 1 or 2 seasons and done. And some manage to go longer especially if they replenish cast, locale, etc. But somewhere about 5 seasons--especially with traditional 20-ish show seasons--I just start losing interest.

I know there are fans who want shows to go on until the whole cast drops dead of old age, but I'd much rather have a handful of seasons even for shows I really like.


Breaking Bad spun off Better Call Saul, which I really hope they wrap up in Season 5. The Americans and Justified are two other shows that ended when they should have. Fargo is a fresh story every season, so it can probably go on a bit longer. Fleabag was a perfect two season show.

Plus, large numbers of shallow (one or two season) shows plays to Netflix's illusion of choice. The more different "shows" it can show in a carousel the more people feel they are getting from their subscription. That's probably going to be increasingly important to them as other content providers leave the platform, if anything.

I wonder if Netflix had adopted a UX more like Amazon's early on where every individual season shows up at the top level instead of all seasons rolling up into the same "now updated" title card for the entire show, if they would have felt less pressure to do as many parallel shows and might have supported more seasons of existing shows. It's a UX change that likely wouldn't make a big difference to viewership though because that Season X + 1 is probably always going to have diminishing returns of viewership as people fail to complete Season X but feel they need to watch it before X + 1.


Except they are removing The Office and Friends. These are my "run in the background while I do work" shows. I was happy when they raised the price because I was happy to give them money for what they gave. But after this, if Parks and Rec also gets cancelled, I'm not sure paying for Netflix streaming will be worth it for me.

I understand Netflix is probably not that more than 50% fault since they don't own the rights. But still.


Right, that's precisely my point. At least some parts of Netflix are hoping that they can create/buy enough "original" content that they can keep people when the big things they leased leave. It's not hard to see why people demanding "lots" of content that to a content executive a lot of shows with only a season or two looks "more full of choices" than had they had fewer shows with many more seasons.

I can't fault Netflix for attempting that strategy here intentionally or accidentally. I'm not sure if it will save them in the upcoming streaming wars or not. (Personally, some of the Netflix original shows I was loyal to are already cancelled; it's also rather hard to keep loyalty to any shows with only two seasons.)

(Also, not to bum you out, but to help prepare you for the streaming wars that are coming: Parks and Rec will likely leave Netflix when Comcast/NBC Universal figure out their streaming strategy [again]. They are expected to be the next to announce things now that AT&T/Warner have announced HBO Max.)


> I wonder if this means in the future, the price for a first and second season labor will be higher, thereby locking out new competition to new original series.

It could be a consequence of the whole industry going the other way.

It used to be that if you were Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts or Harrison Ford then you could write your own ticket because the star power would put butts in seats for anything you were in, which was a highly valuable commodity.

Now there are a zillion new shows, half of them with complete unknowns in them, and people figure out which shows are good based on Rotten Tomatoes and social media rather than by who is in it.

Then you get a cast who thinks their star power is worth more than it is anymore and they threaten to stop producing the show if they don't get more money, but Netflix calls their bluff because there are a thousand aspiring actors and writers behind them who are happy to make a different show that produces the same revenue for half as much money.


Not sure if the reasons are same or different, but from an American POV, it appears many British TV shows have few seasons, with a few exceptions like ‘The Office’.

It could also just not be true? No one but Netflix knows what shows their subscribers like and they're currently spending money like a drunken sailor so I'm hard pressed to believe any argument about paying less for their work. The author is not in the industry and has no access to what Netflix viewers are watching, how much Netflix pays or how much competitors of Netflix pay. What we do know is more shows are being made which means more jobs.

I bet it's more like Netflix realized what viewers have: the first few seasons are almost always the best. Perhaps it's not "straightforward market power exploitation" and it's just that later seasons from legacy players were renewed out of habit, time slots and pre sold ad sales and not because of quality?


I thought the slow burn of older movies was because of the cost of printing and managing the prints.

My understanding is that it was a substantial investment for a movie, which meant that releases had to be staged - you wanted the most bang from each print [1][2].

With digital theaters, this is no longer an issue, the cost is up front with the expensive projecting equipment.

[1] https://newrepublic.com/article/119431/how-digital-cinema-to...

[2] https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/la-xpm-2014-j...


During the "golden age" of Hollywood in the 30s-40s, the studios would crank out one movie per week. Stars would often appear in 3 movies per year. Today, stars shoot a film every 3 years or so. E.g. take a look here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_RKO_Pictures_films#194...

In 1940, RKO released 55 films, of which they produced 39. That's basically a film per week. And these were feature films.

For the individual stars, take a look at Humphrey Bogart, who starred in 3 films in 1941: The Maltese Falcon, The Wagons Roll at Night, High Sierra. I don't think there was a year in the 40s up to the mod 50s when Bogart didn't star in at least 2 releases per year. In 1951 he was in The African Queen, Sirocco, and The Enforcer.

Today, take a major studio, say Paramount Pictures. It released 11 films in all of 2018.

What happened was JAWS created the 'blockbuster' phenomena, in which the studios made huge money on a small number of very expensive films with huge marketing budgets compared to previous eras. That totally changed the dynamic. It also made actor pay shoot up.

But it has nothing to do with the cost of the prints -- just strategy of whether you want to make a small number of films with tons of marketing spend like in the post JAWS era or a large number of cheaper to produce films with small marketing budgets like the pre-JAWS era.

In many ways, what is happening with TV and Netflix is akin to a return to the studio model but for episodes, where Netflix seems to be able to crank out a large number of relatively cheap but decent quality episodes, and this of course corresponds to lower actor pay per episode.


There have been counter arguments that Netflix and Prime Video has in fact saved Hollywood. If you want to make a movie in hollywood, you have to know people who will fund you. You need big connections, close friendships, strong referrals. Even then terms are often not favorable to artists, budget cuts could happen at whims and non-established artists have little freedom. It's like a startup scene but how things used to be done before YC. With Netflix, I think what has happened is that humanity has collectively handed over $10B to one company to create entertainment for them. The budgets are deterministic and not at whims of few people. Artists can take risks because you don't have to count tickets sold. You can create artistic content that has expense and income numbers that don't make sense because eventually it balances out in the larger pool. Suddenly there is lot more money for artists and lot more freedom. It's still not quite like YC where you show up with idea for your movie and instantly get funded but its getting closer to that model.

> It's like a startup scene but how things used to be done before YC.

Jeebus. Things aren't better or worse after YC, they're just different. YC is the same kind of content farm as Netflix. It's not that YC can't produce great startups, it's that so many "dumb money" investors rely heavily on YC as an initial signal that it's (1) more difficult to succeed if you're not YC and (2) if you are YC and fail (statistically likely), you are blackmarked in a pretty terrible way. Many businesses take multiple iterations to succeed.

YC was great when it had 30 great founders in the same way Netflix was great when it first aired Black Mirror. We have to find more robust funding models for promising teams (in all verticals) that don't get compromised by immediate cashflow requirements. Or else we end up with a Miley Cyrus Disney-Ending Black Mirror episode that... we... liked... but what happened to the dystopian horrors we thought we were paying for?


I think you are missing my point. YC model hasn't changed probabilities of success for startups too much. It has, however, democratized who can do startups. I don't have to have friends in VC circles, I don't need to visit dozens of VC offices, I don't get term sheets that takes away 20% of my company, I don't have board members who dictates and vetos over my vision. This is a big deal and huge improvement over older model - it's not just "different".

Cancelling show after two seasons is a blessing: original idea has usually already ran its course by then, and the story becomes more and more convoluted and boring. Very few shows remain high quality in third or subsequent seasons.

I'd argue that a lot of shows have fairly rough first seasons, good to excellent second and third seasons, and then start running out of ideas in the fourth season.

Four seasons is a good length for a TV show. Two is too few most of the time.

This is a very rough metric of course. Some shows peak in their first season and go downhill from there. A few manage to reinvent themselves enough each season to avoid going stale, but in general four and done is good.


I don't have any data to back this up, but I have been watching TV for many, many years. It seems to me that we have two types of television series...

1) A show that was carefully written over the course of several years and had a pretty large budget when the first season of the show was finally made. These have a good first season and maybe an okay second season but often flounder in their second season.

2) A series that maybe had a good idea and a decently written pilot but not much more on the books in terms of time investment, often having a smaller budget. These shows might have a pretty poor first season with some good episodes here and there, perhaps the cast starts to show some real chemistry as their characters begin to get fleshed out towards the end of that season. The second season only gets better as everyone has a better handle on what is working.

It could be argued in both cases that more seasons are worth the gamble. In practice, though, more shows just get worse. I can't fault Netflix for leaning towards early cancellation, that seems like the obvious safe bet.


Ya, 1 fits a lot of the big expensive dramas like The Sopranos and GoT (although waited 5 seasons to flounder), while 2 fits the comedies like The Office and Parks and Rec.

It's an obvious safe bet until you cancel Firefly after one season. :(

In terms of this article, I guess the important takeaway is that happened with the traditional system, before Netflix and Amazon were making their own shows. Some networks were already leaning towards cancelling early and often.

Not any of the shows I enjoy watching. Two seasons is often not enough time to do proper justice to the characters arcs and the overall story.

Now that maybe true once you get beyond five or six seasons for many shows. However, the final two seasons of GoT suffered from rushing the story to a conclusion, and should have gone about 10 seasons to do it proper justice. But GoT is admittedly an outlier with a very complex story and tons of characters.


>be that person an artist or a major studio; it’s simply impossible to compete

Has this guy somehow missed out on the fact that Netflix doesn't own the vast majority of the content its users watch? A major studio competing with Netflix is not terribly difficult since all it has to do is yank its own content off the platform. CBS launched a successful streaming service on the backs of one Star Trek series and a bunch of stupid sitcom reruns. HBO Now is making a profit and it's about to be making a much bigger one since Time Warner is pulling their IP off Netflix to combine into HBO Max. The Disney behemoth is also creeping steadily forward. You know, the giant company that dominates the highest grossing films of the year and has done so for several years? The one with a stranglehold on children's programming? I'm not going to pay for Disney+ but almost every friend of mine with kids is looking forward to unlimited Mickey Mouse for only $15 a month.

Netflix is scrambling because it's only got a couple of years before IP holders start ripping its guts out en masse.


Correction: the terrorists in Back to the Future gave Doc Brown weapons-grade plutonium, not uranium!

> ... it’s simply impossible to compete making better goods and services if your competitor can lose money indefinitely.

This is yet another consequence of the Federal Reserve's forever bailout of the US stock market: a repeatable business model in which a company can operate at a loss indefinitely while it furiously tries to build an uncrossable moat around itself.


The rapid changing from VCR -> DVD -> Blueray -> digital meant their industry was able to resell their product over and over. This produced a golden age and created a ridiculous amount of money. Their golden age is over.

In the very near future what used to be the movie/tv industry will be significantly smaller.


Obviously it’s a bit of a Rorschach but I see it differently:

Industrialists took control of the production apparatus and stopped funding anything that didn’t fit into “proven” parameters. This produces a lot of money for owners, in a very efficient way. Very little money is wasted, there are clearly lost opportunities on risks not taken, but as long as there is enough work to keep the top management busy at full capacity, there’s no incentive to chase those risks.

This model displaced a lot of content creators who didn’t fit the formula. Some small number of passionate people made work anyway, fumbling through with PayPal and DVDs and Amazon sales and whatever else.

That small pool of dedicated creators was enough of a market to build an alternate production apparatus. CDBaby, YouTube, digital cameras, cheap video editing rigs, Twitter, even email... all of these tools emerged to help independents survive.

Then, it was a classic “Innovators Dilemma” tipping point: suddenly a TV show could be produced for an order of magnitude less money and there was a generation of established creators that the establishment had written off.

It was just waiting for someone to start writing small-for-networks but big-for-indie-filmmakers checks. Netflix did it.

Now there are a new set of proven formulas. The networks are on the ropes, but they could come back easily. At the end of the day this business has nothing to do with technology. Viewing experiences will change but it’s still just people in dimly lit rooms watching screens and advertising.


Maybe my perspective is a bit skewed as a Canadian, our government requires X% of content on tv to be Canadian made. Which was fine because tons of stuff is made in vancouver and toronto but it never pushed the little guy out. We still have all the small time crap like ice road truckers or trailer park boys.

>At the end of the day this business has nothing to do with technology

I disagree that technology isnt involved. As I said, changing formats but then you bring up all the technologies which were developed which changed things. Youtube/Netflix itself is technology.


Great article. To me the weak part in this argument is arguing this all involves “lock in”. Specifically:

> The story is that users will buy Netflix streaming services and it will be too much trouble to switch to a different service, which is a variant of a phenomenon called “lock-in.”

And because of this they can get away with building bad content and losing money.

I don’t agree users won’t easily switch or leave if quality drops. Netflix is becoming a premium channel like HBO (or vice versa). It’s trivial to cancel the service like it is to cancel any premium channel (think HBO after GoT) and look at other options. If anything, eventually my credit card expires and I revisit all my subscriptions...

This does seem to be a problem in the case of a duopoly or monopoly, which is perhaps the real threat the author means to describe.


Quote: "One could quibble about creativity, but it’s generally thought in Hollywood that the last great comedy franchise to launch was The Hangover, created in 2009. There have been a few others, like Pitch Perfect and 21 Jump Street, but those both came out around the same time, in 2012. There effectively have been no comedy smash hits in for nearly a decade."</endquote>

Are you kidding me? Last great comedy was The Hangover? Does the author of the article ever heard of Toy Story 4 (now in theaters), Secret life of pets 1 & 2, Ralph Breaks the Internet, Zootopia etc etc? Granted, they are animated movies versus live action like The Hangover but they are movies, big ones, made by Hollywood, with a plethora of A list actors voicing the characters. The fact that they are animated is irrelevant, because the taste of the public always evolves. That's why action flicks of the '80s are no longer enough to entertain us, and they seem a cliche instead. We, the consumers, became more sophisticated, our taste evolved and demanding better quality for our money. Therefore the creativity went where was required, where the public demand it, not to be stuck in the same style of movies. Otherwise John Wayne's style of Western movies would still roll on big screen. Tell me, when was the last time such a Western made it big on box office? I tell you instead that HBO's Westworld is very much a Western style show that I deeply enjoy. That's where the creativity went! To be in the same pace as our modern, more subtle, taste.


> the last great comedy franchise to launch

Interesting read, but I tend to disagree with the author on many levels.

I do believe we are still in a golden age for content producers and audiences. The amount of money going into content production, the number of shows being produced and the number of streaming services being launched offer a variety of options for people to finance, distribute and consume video content.

Content creators are looking essentially for 3 things: telling great stories, reaching large audiences and making money. They make an informed decision based on those 3 factors when choosing to work with Netflix, Amazon or other studios/streaming services. If it becomes obvious that Netflix will cancel their show after 2 seasons or will not expose their content to large audiences, content creators will stop pitching their shows to Netflix and turn to other distribution providers such as Amazon, Warner Media, Disney, NBC, Facebook, CBS, YouTube etc. And if audiences like their content, they will follow it and subscribe/spend time on other platforms.

I’m also unsure about Netflix’s “lock-in” power. Netflix is not Spotify where I spend time creating and organizing playlists. I see it only working if Netflix’s recommendation engine is so well trained with my data that moving to another streaming service will force me to spend much more time looking for relevant content to watch. Otherwise, I watch Friends on Netflix. I can easily switch next year to watch it on HBO Max.

It is true that the old days of “Friends” and “Seinfeld”, where a hit show would generate billions of dollars for its creators, are gone. Netflix and other streaming platforms are now acquiring global content rights for shows and production companies are becoming more like “work for hire” studios – where ownership is transferred to the streaming platform and no future residual revenues can be expected from re-runs (syndication deals).

That being said, the median wage of writers dropping seems to be more the result of talent agencies’ “packaging practices” than Netflix.

And by the way, “Where are the great comedies?” the author asks. Blockbuster movies – because of their high production costs – look for global appeal. Car crashes (aka “action movies”) are understood across the world. It’s not necessarily the case for jokes (aka “comedies”) that might not cross oceans as easily.


I'm actually OK with the cancellations.

Maybe I'd have liked more Santa Clarita Diet - but had given up watching Orange is the New Black and the Marvel stuff.

I'd loved them, liked them, then maybe was watching out of a "sense of duty".. There's only so much TV I can/should ever watch, so if there's going to be anything new, they've got to stop making something old.


I loved Santa Clarita Diet, but I'm also fine with them having cancelled it. I'd prefer shows just stick around for a few good seasons than get long in the tooth. I hope they develop more shows like it, though.

You might be, but the people it really hurts are the creators.

Orange is the New Black went 6 seasons. The creators likely made all their money in seasons 3+, because they proved its worth in seasons 1 and 2 and had leverage to negotiate higher compensation.

The problem isn't so much cancelling mediocre series after two seasons, it's when they cancel things with a huge following because they've managed to disconnect what people pay from the quality of the content.


I have another guess: Rising inequalities in the U.S. means fewer and fewer people can have access to high quality movies. This means the internal market, which is the fuel of Hollywood, is dying and that's why Hollywood is dying.

It's just an intuition and a guess.

EDIT: Also, it could mean that the concentration of money inside a few hands in Hollywood mean they try to make fewer movies so they get more return on investment. For example, if you produce 20 movies per month or 10 movies per month, and you have a monopoly, then it's cheaper and almost as profitable to 10 movies a month. Only an healthy competition or subsidies like in France can make you want to produce more movies.

EDIT 2: I confess that I'm an Armchair Economist https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Armchair%20E...


Inequality is rising, but so are the lowest rungs of american society. They have seen huge increases in standard of living.

[deleted]


How is the US in peak poverty? That graph clearly shows the poverty rate being way lower than in '59-65, and lower than at many points since then.

Sorry, I mixed up raw number of people in poverty and percentage, so I removed my comment. Here's the graph for context (for other people reading): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Number_i...

A friend teaches English in south east Asia. His younger students refuse to watch any movies from before ~2010, saying they are too old and slow. I think the focus on remakes is an attempt to capture this market that would otherwise not bother watching older content.

The poorly aged CGI didn't help. That and shitty sound is what stopped me from watching many older movies as a kid.

Aw man there’s such deep beautiful feeling in some old movies. I sorta feel like it’s a huge oversight to believe that movies are watched for their technical achievements, rather than the people and ideas in them.

But my dad was into cinema so showed me tons of old film when I was a kid. Charlie Chaplin is still hilarious.


> The centralization of power in a few studios and chains is global. In 2015, the U.S.-China Security Review Commission noted that Hollywood now obeys Chinese censors pretty much for all films, even those made and distributed solely in the West. Unless this system is restructured, it is unlikely we will see any critical depictions of Chinese government actors again, which has its parallels to the Studio System in the 1930s pandering to Nazi Germany.

> ...

> In other words, we should aim to restore open markets for content again. This means separating out the industry into production, distribution, and retailing. We should probably ban predatory pricing so Netflix isn’t dumping into the market. And we should probably begin a radical decentralization of chains and studios.

There's some interesting stuff in this article and I'm glad that I read it. But at the end of the piece, aren't we talking about the same thing we're seeing in all US industries? As the players getting larger and more wealthy and become more powerful they do their best to freeze out competitors until we end up with a weird and dysfunctional closed system.

A lot of these criticisms pre-date Netflix and Amazon: summer movies started to become an all-or-nothing bet (and thus more homogenous, dull, and less risky intellectually) when it was just the studios.

I don't know what the solution might be, I struggle to keep a positive frame of mind in this regard. I do think it's unlikely that the government will step in an break these companies up, especially when they have so much money under their control.


> I don't know what the solution might be, I struggle to keep a positive frame of mind in this regard. I do think it's unlikely that the government will step in an break these companies up, especially when they have so much money under their control.

I'm not usually optimistic about it, but there's some political noise about actually enforcing the Sherman Act again. We're not _that_ far removed from a DoJ that blocked Microsoft mergers, and there's hopefully enough political pressure to staff the FTC/DoJ some people with spines instead of rubber stamps.


History is littered with studios that tried to do something “innovative” and more risky and went bust on one film.

The audience has spoken. Studios will produce what works.


Seems to me the same kind of thing is happening to the music industry. Streaming is great, however having “too many choices” sometimes feels overwhelming. Corporations want to make a profit, so naturally they will seek out the next big streaming hit and market it to their end users. How do they do this? Algorithms, popularity, number of plays, demographics, etc. Eventually, a few big names get most of the attention. And the user base with the highest number of (paying) listeners is catered to above everything else.

"How many films are released each year?" https://stephenfollows.com/how-many-films-are-released-each-...

The graph shows "Hollywood Wide Releases" at about 100/year for 1995 to 2016. The rate is almost constant.

"All Other Releases" go from about 170/year in 1995 to 640/year in 2016. The increase is roughly linear, with a major dip during the great recession of 2008-9.

Other graphs show that theater admissions are roughly constant over the period.


Netflix would like nothing more than to have the government force production and distribution to be separate. Their core business was using data to buy better content for cheaper and then figuring out what you want to watch better than anyone else.

If production and distribution were separate, everyone would want to be distributed by Netflix because they have the largest global reach. And they could get out of the huge money sink that is making content. They only make content because they saw this consolidation coming.


Yeah Wim Wenders made a documentary back in 1982 about this. It’s a series of interviews with world famous directors of the time talking about the direction of the movie industry.

Hollywood has often claimed to be in the process of dying. While I think the current content is mostly boring, it still generates profit. Predictable scripts but the industry demands it like this. Remakes are popular because they have a somewhat predictable return of investment because they provide a fanbase from the start.

If engagement suffers further, movies are going to change again. But on the other hand rehashed content is always new content for new generations.


Hollywood is dying because most of their movies are garage. There have been very few good movies made lately or perhaps I'm just getting old. I use to go to the movies once or twice a month a long time ago, now I can go a whole year without going. Besides the quality going down, it costs too much too.

The remake fatigue is also real. Very few original content. It's either a remake of something from the past, another country or a sequel.


Holywood is certainly not dying economically, but it certainly died a long time ago when it comes to actual entertainment and art.

And it's not a matter of age. I like films older than me, there are genuine diamonds amongst them. Today's movies are shitty for the most part with few notable exceptions.

Thank God there are tons of great movies outside Holywood.


> This means separating out the industry into production, distribution, and retailing.

I'd welcome that, less exclusives - better for the end user. Except retailing is obsolete in this context. In the digital world, it's only production and distribution.

And films should be available to buy digitally DRM-free, not just rented, Netflix-like.


With decentralized technologies we can have the large networks/platforms without the monopolies. Just imagine that Ethereum 2.0 comes out supporting many transactions. Then create a dapp that integrates video somehow, maybe with something like BitTorrent.

How do you write this article without mentioning youtube?

I watch far more youtube, than traditional Hollywood. And I don't mean random clips, but high quality content.

He's worried that Hollywood won't criticize China, or the military. Instead you'll find that on youtube.


Redlettermedia have made a lot of 'normal' people aware of just how aweful movies and the movie-going experience is. A lot of times it's more entertaining to watch a group of friends absolutely destroy a moviethan it was to watch the film.

Yes, Hollywood has long ago gone stale.

Too many movies today rely on reboots or sequels. The system itself is terribly corupt, ala Weinstein. The fame business has raised a pack of entitled, self-important cry babies.

More power to Amazon and Netflix. We deserve better.


One thing Netflix has not yet cracked is how to keep me constantly hooked and to stop me from quitting once in a while.

As I can just catch up with the missed episodes later, I don’t see problem canceling the subscription.


Very much the same for me. I try not to waste too much time watching movies, but also I want to keep up with the culture. But I find if I binge one month a year, I end up seeing almost everything that people are talking about.

It's only a problem to be cracked if the number of people cancelling once in a while is significant. Anecdotes aren't statistics.

You're unique. Most people just keep paying for it.

Want the formula for every single Hollywood movie? Google “the hero’s journey” and compare the formula to every movie you have seen.

Doesn’t fit with many films. Memento for example.

Of course, I should have said “most”. This is a formula used by a huge percentage of US movies and TV shows. People are so used to it they don’t even think about the fact that the fundamental storyline is the same on a good percentage of what they watch.

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