by Rob Boylan
Earlier this week at a panel at USC, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg read the tea leaves for the future of the cinema and saw a Grim, one of the darkest omens of our world. They see a future of lofty ticket prices (meaning $150 a seat, not the already crazy $10-15 a seat) and a world where only sure things can make, and many of those sure things will be expensive flops, because, despite what this blog post says, it's still true that nobody knows anything (more people just think they know because they read a Robert McKee or Christopher Vogler book).
Lucas and Spielberg are right (or at least in the vicinity of right), but they way it's been thrown around on Twitter and on other blogs is ridiculously alarmist. This isn't a change that is going to happen next week, first of all, it's still at least an entire development slate away from happening (think: 4-5 years), and theaters aren't just going to let a multi-billion dollar business fail without some sort of innovation. People aren't going to pay for movies like they pay for baseball or theater tickets, even if it is for Iron Man 4 or Marvel's next Spider-man reboot (coming soon, probably), The Spectacular Spider-man.
The "bankability" bubble bursting (aka a string of $300m flops spread out over every studio) would be the best thing to ever happen to the movies. It's an illusion anyway. There is no one who is 100% bankable, and there hasn't been since Chaplin made The Great Dictator (John Cazale's special case aside). Go to IMDb and look at Humphrey Bogart and Carey Grant, Ingrid Bergman or either of the Hepburns: they've got plenty of flops mixed in with their huge successes. The only thing close to being bankable in the talkie era has been a great story. Few in Hollywood seem to understand that aside from Pixar, but even they've become mired in a bout of sequelitis, and the Pixar Brain Trust, for whatever reason, doesn't seem to apply that to their steerage of the rest of Disney's films.
So, Lucas and Spielberg are right, but it's already starting to happen anyway. They're not predicting iPads and globalization from the 1930s like H.G. Wells. VOD is here and it's not going anywhere. And it's a good thing for most movie fans. Accessibility is a great thing, and it's generally cheaper than going to the theater anyway.
(They're right on most points, but it's somewhat alarming that George Lucas seems to think only girls have empathy and boys want computer chips in their brain to make killing in video games more immersive.)
News, links, etc:
-Even though there is a lot of awful questions in this interview, the world is a better place now that Gaby Hoffmann has thrown her cap firmly over the acting wall once again. She dishes on her new film (Crystal Fairy), drugs, John Hughes tantrums, Christina Ricci and how perfect a human Tom Hanks is. (HuffPo)
-Kyle Buchannan on one of the things I hate, hate, hate most about action movies: the need to blow up New York over and over again on film. Sure, it's been blown up thousands of times in movies and comics, but that was before. Now? It's a big problem. I don't want to see it. It makes me roll my eyes at movies -- like The Avengers -- and actively not enjoy them. I've written about it before on previous blogs and bored my friends senseless over the years complaining about it, so now I just sit and quietly judge. And anyone who blows up New York I judge harshly. (Vulture)
-Like almost everyone else 30 or older who grew up with the original, Gene Wilder thought Tim Burton's update of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was an insult. It was. (The Wrap)
-Filmmaker Jennifer Nelson has filed a law suit against Warner Bros claiming that their copyright on "Happy Birthday" has elapsed. The suit seeks refunds for all usage payments since 2009. Good luck to her, though personally I think the song and all iterations of birthday singing should be outlawed and a colony should be made like in Escape from LA to house everyone who tries to sing it to anyone (but especially if they try to sing it to me). (NY Times)
-Hollywood and China: BFF? (Movies.com)
-Are we getting too much of a good thing when it comes to animated features this year? (THR)
-AA Dowd wrote a great piece on one of my favorite films, Marty. (AV Club)
-Do you want to see the 10 best oral sex faces on TV in 2013? Yes, of course you do. (Vulture)
-Here is a cache of Akira production art from the adaptation that keeps dying only to come back to life. WB has put the latest attempt, with Garrett Hedlund, on hold for rewrites, but it'll be back and die again no doubt. But seriously, of all the things that they will get the biggest backlash over changing, changing the bikes would probably be the biggest thing. (io9)
-If you still care about the After Earth scientology stuff, there is this to read. (NextFilm)
-Apparently M. Night Shyamalan ghost wrote She's All That and that totally makes sense. (AV Club)
Trailers, posters, etc:
-Lake Bell's In a World..., about a woman trying to get ahead in the voice over world. (IndieWire)
-Lynn Shelton's new film, Touchy Feely, starring Rosemarie DeWitt, Ellen Page and Allison Janney. (Apple)
-The Korean trailer for Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer. It's in English, don't worry. (Naver)
-Another teaser for the Larry David HBO film Clear History, wherein he fights with Jon Hamm. (IndieWire)