Rumors of the Death of Hollywood

Have been greatly exaggerated. (Thank you Mark Twain.)

The motion picture CEOs aren’t stupid. While they may be hanging on tight to the old ways so that they can grab as much short-term cash as possible via top-down models that manipulate consumers by telling them what to buy, they know the ground under their feet is unstable. In order to survive they will have to learn to listen to their customers, find out what they want and how to best serve them. The old strategies in the movie business are disintegrating, as the ownership model gives way to one that is all about access. Adapt or die.

I don’t spend a lot of energy getting upset about Hollywood anymore – as a cultural phenomenon, I find it occasionally fascinating, but mostly tiresome. I skipped the Oscars as usual this year, though I think it’s been one of the best years in cinema in quite a while.

Meanwhile, I saw a truly brilliant and beautiful film by Akira Kurosawa from 1952 over the weekend, “Ikiru” at my local, tiny art movie theatre – the Trylon. I love that place, because it reminds me of why I first started making movies, a full 20 years ago now.

Movies can be art, absolutely. And certainly I think that the 20th Century will be looked back upon as a golden age of cinema, wherein singular $100 million dollar works of art were somehow orchestrated and produced.

But the “entrepreneurial age” of independent cinema is ultimately dangerous, I think – I’ve seen far too many promising artists start talking about “serving customers” and “ownership models,” and it’s all downhill from there.

What to do? My best guess is, just keep trying to make beautiful things, don’t go into debt, and don’t think too hard about trying to sell them. In 20 years or so, I’ll let you know how it worked out.

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