Around the time that Napster was deep in litigation with every music label and Metallica I wrote a paper about the problems that plagued the music industry. I wrote that whomever figures out how to conquer Mp3’s will undoubtedly change the landscape of the music industry, forever. Not long too long after that, came the iPod and iTunes and a new path was forged.
Right now the film industry is in a similar position.“The ways it’s always been” is not working. Talented POC and Women are not seeing the opportunities behind the camera, in every facet compared to White Men. They are also not being recognized for the outstanding work they do produce. They are not rewarded with lucrative movie franchises (Elizabeth Banks first time directing Pitch Perfect 2 and 69 million dollar opening with a 35 million dollar budget) and because of the cost of going to a theater to see a movie, people are not going to see as many movies like they used to. The consequence is indie movies aren’t being released to as many theaters.
Award Season was once a special time to celebrate all of these movies, and wet the appetite of the movie goer, to see movies they normally would not.
There are many detractors from this, the movies that are generally considered award worthy are released November-January ( During the Holiday period when the average American is strapped) So the varying members of the academy and other guilds have the distinct pleasure of getting “Screeners”. So they get to watch every movie that these studios send out, (are supposed to) and vote accordingly.
It seems lately the MPAA, The Studios and some Film Makers have such conniption about these films showing up on torrent sites that they are more interested in playing whack a mole that the screeners themselves (as in the case with The Hateful Eight) become the story, instead of the intended Oscar Campaign. In my humble opinion something that is not favorable on the film maker.
While I am not advocating piracy, I do think that the people who have enormous interest in the screeners are not out to take money from Studios or Film Makers. They are people who build buzz, they are people who talk about movies with others. When the Academy Awards come on, these are some of the very few people outside of the Academy who have seen almost all the movies nominated. The only skin they have in the game, is talking up the movies that they enjoyed. People who use torrent sites also tend to spend 30% more on entertainment products than the average consumer. I have seen no conscious effort in taking the Napster lesson to heart here. Instead of playing Whack a Mole with individuals, the MPAA could be finding those who think outside the box on how to change a failing formula into the next iPod/iTunes solution.
Ultimately this solution will help some and hurt some, I realize that theaters hemorrhage money out the gate, and if the industry really wants to help them stay alive they need to work out a different financial deal with them. If I have a 70 inch 4k television and surround sound I am not going to be inclined to spend 60 dollars on concessions after paying 20 bucks a ticket to see a movie. This is unsustainable. As it is, the film industry has set it up so that only those which have reasonable certainty to be blockbusters are widely released and I truly believe that people are getting bored with that formula.
This is just my first piece about the disappointing award season so far, but believe me I have much more to say..