Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Hollywood 2012 - Mo(o)re of the same.

"If you can give the audience something that's visually spectacular, a reason to come out and watch movies in the theatre, then audiences will come out to see it on the big screen," Paramount's vice chairman of marketing, Rob Moore recently told the New York Daily News - he was speaking after cinemas experienced a boom in attendances this Christmas with Sherlock Holmes 2 and the new Mission Impossible doing particularly well. Though it must be noted that 2011 saw a decline in ticket sales and attendance fell to a 16-year low.

The key words to Mr. Moore's statement, and the ones that really worry me, are VISUALLY SPECTACULAR - this suggests that the powers that be in movie land still consider eye dropping visuals to be more important than story, that the dumbing down of cinema will continue. And what's more Hollywood may be correct and films with plots, good acting and only limited visual effects will only reach  a limited audience - a case in point is David Fincher's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," which has been left for dead after a disappointing debut last weekend given all of the hype surrounding the adaptation. However Fincher's movie has now raked in $60 million and is showing signs of finding an audience.

"Our franchise films has gotten younger, and family movies have been soft," said Chris Aronson, senior vice president of distribution at Fox, in an interview with the L A Times. "I'm not going to be Pollyanna-ish about the box office this year. We know that attendance figures are slipping, and we need to reverse that by doing everything we can to put the best possible product out as an industry."


The industry are talking about the long haul for their movies and the revenue generated by DVD sales and yet, the fact is, that DVD sales are also on the decline. And the much hailed Blu-Ray has not exactly set the home entertainment world on fire - most Blu-Ray discs these days come with a standard DVD disc included in an attempt to boost sales, but that does not speak well for a format that was supposed to replace standard DVD. It is akin to Microsoft including a copy of Vista with every Windows 7. The decline of the DVD is being masked by the still strong sales of DVDs to children and it's hiding the real slide in sales of smaller movies.That's limiting the guaranteed income for a lot of productions. It will be harder to guarantee money to make a movie as the way people watch movies changes. The entire nature of a film's availability is changing as people watch things on tablets and smart phones and people aren't buying digital copies the way studios want.

I've always been a regular cinema goer though I must admit that I've not been since True Grit and prior to that my last cinema visit was when I walked out of the travesty that was Quantum of Solace - nothing has really appealed to me, at least not enough to visit the multiplex. The few films that I have wanted to watch I've waited for the DVD's to become available. And it's the same with DVD - where I once bought at least four titles a month, I now perhaps buy half a dozen a year. Granted this is down to the fact that I've now amassed a DVD collection of over a thousand titles and I've already got all the classic movies that seem to come out on digital disc.

I guess that like TV and popular music, the cinema is becoming a place for kids only.

At least that's the way I feel, and I suspect, so do many others.

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