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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
But, if you want to talk about more traditional blockbusters, Netflix makes plenty of those (arguably more than many traditional studios).
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 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.
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 said it's still making good money and will make even more after the box office run.
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.
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%
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.
Casablanca was a remake of another Casablanca 10 years before, but I believe this previous Casablanca is now lost.
This is false.
Sequels and book adaptions have dominated the top 10 every year for decades and decades.
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....
Not to this degree. The last good year for movies was 1999. This is the list of major releases that year:
The Sixth Sense
Toy Story 2
The Green Mile
Being John Malkovic
The Iron Giant
The Talented Mr. Ripley
Eyes Wide Shut
Man on the Moon
Detroit Rock City
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.
Movies among the top ten grossing which you left out of the list:
- Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
- Big Daddy
- The Mummy
- Runaway Bride
- The World Is Not Enough
- The Blair Witch Project
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.
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.
Maybe those older movies just didn't seem so derivative to you because it was new to you then?
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 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.
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.
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.
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
(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!
Once upon a time there was ___.
Every day, ___.
One day ___.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What channel is this? sounds great
And the Amiga (Part 1 of 2)
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.
Less than 30% of eligible voters (and an even smaller percentage of the country) did, actually.
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.
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.
> 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.
On-point... next one on the pipeline is "MULAN" Cartoon to Real Human.
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.
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.)
Legal streaming has more movies than a good video shop had 20 years ago. Less legal distribution has even more.
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.)
Not according to the numbers....
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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?
Pretty much all my peers are bumming someone's password, too.
Perhaps I will sign up for something else later or even return if something else comes on.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Cinemas show so many ads I would not be surprised playing movies is just a side gig.
>[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.
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now I find it more relaxing to go based on just the trailers and enjoy the bad ones when they happen.
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.
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.
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.
I'm sure Netflix would rather have Disney's library, but there's always a second place in a duopoly.
If someone has Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video (because everyone already has Amazon Prime), do they really need the low budget originals on Netflix?
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 doesn’t own Hulu outright yet. Warner Bros still has its 10% stake and Comcast still has its stake for now.
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.
I don’t think they are creating a lot of valuable content right now. But, that’s more option than fact.
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.
From the CEO:
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
Note that those public services generally aren't nationalized. The local water utility is typically operated by the city, not the feds.
Or, you know, socialised.
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.
That's a co-op, surely? It's not exactly unknown!
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:
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.
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.
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?
Moral, fair, and equitable opportunity is not neatly slotted into any ideological political-economy pigeonhole.
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.
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.
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 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.
It does suck when Comcast is fighting with ESPN and you don't care because your kid just wants to watch the Disney channel.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
- That's crazy and smart all at the same time. Definitely not user-centered design.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In my opinion, most shows would do better with far fewer seasons.
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.
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.
I understand Netflix is probably not that more than 50% fault since they don't own the rights. But still.
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.)
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.
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?
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 .
With digital theaters, this is no longer an issue, the cost is up front with the expensive projecting equipment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
In the very near future what used to be the movie/tv industry will be significantly smaller.
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.
>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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
But my dad was into cinema so showed me tons of old film when I was a kid. Charlie Chaplin is still hilarious.
> 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'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.
The audience has spoken. Studios will produce what works.
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.
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.
If engagement suffers further, movies are going to change again. But on the other hand rehashed content is always new content for new generations.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I can just catch up with the missed episodes later, I don’t see problem canceling the subscription.
depending the subject, there may also be a cartoon tv series as well.