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Maybe it's fitting that so many movies right now focus on the end of the world, because according to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas the end of moviegoing as we know it is near! The pair shared the stage at University of Southern California, and there unfolded their thoughts on where the movie industry is heading. According to these legendary moviemakers, it's due for a major shakeup.
The Verge reports Spielberg spoke about the entertainment market being flooded with choices for consumers. He says this environment has urged studios to pool their assets to create big budget productions in the $250 million range in hopes that these tent poles will cut through the white noise. The downside is that smaller, "really interesting, deeply personal — and even maybe historical — projects" struggle to find funding in this environment. But Spielberg thinks the time of hugely expensive movies is coming to the end of its popularity, offering:
"There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even half a dozen of these mega-budgeted movies are going to go crashing into the ground and that's going to change the paradigm again."
Lucas imagines the change in movies to be a little different. He believes that the shift of distribution strategies that now allow for VOD access will split movies into two categories. The first will go the way of Broadway. The number of theaters will dwindle, making the moviegoing experience more exclusive, and thereby more costly. "Going to the movies is going to cost you 50 bucks, maybe 100. Maybe 150," he speculated, "And that's going to be what we call ‘the movie business.' But everything else is going to look more like cable television on TiVo."
Lucas believes more creative voices will have opportunity in this imagined future, and consumers will be more able than ever before to find media that speaks to their interests. Niche programming is already thriving on cable networks like HBO, where a smaller audience is required for a show to be deemed a hit. "All you need is a million people," Lucas suggests, "Which in the aggregate of the world is not very many people. And you can actually make a living at this. Where before you couldn't."
Spielberg went on to recollect about when movies stayed in theaters for a year, sometimes longer. Of course nowadays they can go from theaters to VOD in weeks, or vice versa. He expects soon movies will be available for home viewing the same day as in theaters (this is already happening) and certain movies will cost more to see, "You're going to have to pay $25 to see the next Iron Man. And you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln."
While this may seem like a bleak future for film as we know it, Lucas is particularly enthusiastic about the transition, declaring:
"Now is the best time we can possibly have…. It's a mess. It's total chaos. But out of that chaos will come some really amazing things. And right now there's amazing opportunities for young people coming into the industry to say, ‘Hey, I think I'm going to do this and there's nobody to stop me.'"