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The entertainment industry is a weird place. In the end, it's a business, where the goal is to make money. However, in order to do that you have to produce a product, which is also a piece of art. This process has changed a great deal in the last few decades and Will Smith says that the presence of social media is the biggest reason. Social media pushes the studios to make the best possible movies they can, because if they don't, the world will find out very soon.
Part of what has made Will Smith so successful during his entire career, from rap artist to movie star, is that he understood the importance of marketing himself. Recently, the Suicide Squad actor spoke to an audience at a Cannes Lions session about the importance of marketing, and how it has changed in recent years. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Smith says the biggest benefit to the advent of social media is that studios now make a concerted effort to make good movies, because bad ones aren't guaranteed the success they once had.
Back in the '80s and '90s, you had a piece of crap movie, you put a trailer with a lot of explosions and it was Wednesday before people knew your movie was shit. But now what happens is, 10 minutes into the movie, people are tweeting 'This is shit, go see Vin Diesel.' It's funny to go sit in a meeting in Hollywood now. It's a new idea that we have to make good movies. Hmm, I never thought of that.
Will Smith knows a few things about making great movies; he's been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor twice. He also knows what it's like to make movies that were complete crap. He starred in Wild Wild West, after all. That film was still the number one movie in America the weekend it was released, and it only fell to number two in its second weekend. In today's landscape, while a film of similar star power and scope might be able to swing that opening weekend success, we wouldn't expect to see it do nearly as well in its second weekend. There would also be a noticeable drop in ticket sales between Friday and Sunday.
While the honesty here is refreshing, it's also depressing. This is basically an admission that for decades a movie studio's strategy was "this movie may be shit, but that's ok because nobody will realize it until it's too late." We assume this statement was followed by a maniacal supervillain laugh. To be honest, we already knew this was the case, but hearing it out loud still makes it sting.
Certainly studios are well aware when their movies are bad, but they're still going to do whatever they can to make them financially successful; we would expect nothing less. In the end, we'll try and focus on the positive side: studios are working harder to make good movies.
Bad movies will still happen, but if everybody involved is trying to make something great, there's at least a decent chance they'll be successful more often than not.