Thursday, March 24, 2011

Will the Internet Kill the Movie Star?

Being a fan of going to the movies, and enjoying the theater experience, I’ve marveled as the advances in technology combined with the massive talent pool of artists available have ushered in what I consider a mini-golden age of film making. But, will the rises in technology ultimately hurt this form of media as more and more people wind up getting their movie fix at home on their television or on their computer? I think it’s definitely something to consider.

In my 30 years of being an avid moviegoer I’ve clamored for two things: better technology and better acting. In the last 15 years I feel my wishes have been fulfilled. Just as the printing press ushered in a new world of media in its era, the computer is ushering a new age of media in ours, particularly in the movie business. Gone are the days of stop motion animation and superimposed blue screens in which we had to consciously practice our suspension of disbelief. Now we have a seamless reality between a director’s creativity and his ability to express exactly what he wants on the screen. But how long will this last?

Putting all this technology and talent to work costs money, and I mean big money. For example Peter Jackson’s next movie The Hobbit will be released in two parts, with a total budget of over half a billion dollars. As more and more of us have access to better home equipment and greater access to movies on our terms, we are going out less. How will this drop in revenue be handled in Hollywood? Will the movies of the future mirror the cheaper programming model that currently invades our living rooms, as talented directors, actors, and writers are sidelined by unscripted and largely untalented reality based entertainment? Or worse, will our actors just be models whose likenesses are morphed into a digital reality, thereby negating the need for any actual human element. Let’s hope neither scenario happens.

Ultimately, I think that the answer to this dilemma is in the hands of the studio executives, which is kind of scary. But history has taught us is that no matter what the media or excuse, whether it’s VHS, DVD, Piracy, or just plain apathy, when Hollywood produced a superior product we all lined up and turned over our money. Hopefully, the increased competition due to emerging technologies will cause Hollywood to get better at what it does, thereby benefiting us the movie going consumer.


  1. According to , the film industry is as strong as ever and live-action shot films still make up 84% of the market. I do agree that there seems to be less customers at theaters in general than a few years ago. The rise of 3D films is certainly helping bring back people to the theaters. If the film industry really wanted to curb piracy, they could offer less restricted formats for viewing. Just like TV industry's problems with over restricting where/how we can view shows, the film industry needs to be more supportive of new content delivery systems like Netflix streaming.

  2. The budget for The Hobbit is insane! I don't think that mainstream film will ever become cheap. I think people are too used to the current production quality. One reason we tolerate the low quality of many online productions is because they're unique/different and it can't be expected for individuals to produce something that costs a lot to make. On the other hand, if Universal Studies decided that for the next Jurassic Park, it would be cheaper to use claymation or to not show the dinosaurs at all (and only identify them with sounds and fast camera action, like the Blaire Witch Project) I don't think this would go over well!