The entertainment industry has acknowledged that there is a recession. And these are the people who have such a positive spin on everything they’ll tell you they’re satisfied with the results of AUSTRALIA. But the fallout from dwindling DVD sales, the downturn in local TV ad revenue, and fewer German dentists willing to finance projects have put the squeeze on Hollywood’s big studios. And last year they took a multi-billion dollar hit on the WGA strike, but that was their choice.
Studios say they are tightening operating budgets. Restricting travel, expense accounts, using temporary help, taking town cars instead of limos, that sort of hardship. Sony, in a sign of utter desperation, cancelled executive meetings in Latin America in December and Europe in June. And Warner Brothers discontinued giving holiday turkeys to key executives, major stars, and agents. Jesus, it’s like a scene out of Oliver Twist.
So, as a public service to my beloved industry, here are some suggestions to help you out in these dire times.
Green light fewer $200 million blockbusters and instead make more romantic comedies and smaller films. Even your home runs aren’t home runs when you offset them with SPEED RACER. A small successful comedy can you bring you huge rewards for relatively little risk. Make ten ROLE MODELS for every one BANGKOK DANGEROUS.
Eliminate all the middle-tier development people. Both in the feature and television world. Here’s why: They don’t DO ANYTHING. They give notes. They clog up the system. They homogenize things. For the most part they’re obstructionists. Proven screenwriters and showrunners don’t need some 2006 graduate of Sarah Lawrence telling them how to fix their projects.
In television: eliminate the “Pod Companies”. These are former executives who now have cushy producing deals with studios. Again, just another layer of interference. Since they still have to hire writers to create and execute ideas why not just eliminate the middle men? A few years ago I helped out on a pilot and between the studio, network, pod company, star’s management team, and standards & practices there were literally 25 people giving notes. How many executives do you need to say “raise the stakes” and “we don’t like her enough”?
Stop paying the Jim Carreys of the world $20 million a picture. Comedy stars in particular wear out their welcome long before studios stop giving them giant paydays. I have just four words: Eddie Murphy, Michael Myers? Develop new stars. Especially on television. Breakout shows generally feature breakout stars. I have just one word: FRIENDS.
Make better movies. 2005 was a horrible boxoffice year and we weren’t in a recession then. But you gave us BEWITCHED.
There are other subjects for motion pictures besides Superheroes. The only one left is the Teeny Little Super Guy.
Force theater chains to stop showing ads before the movies. They drive people away. Does the revenue from these annoying commercials offset the loss in admission tickets? Theater chains make their money on $6.95 buckets of popcorn that cost them three cents to make. Let Mountain Dew peddle their crap elsewhere.
Television networks – concentrate on ratings again and not just putting on your own shows because you own them. Yes, advertising money is shrinking, but not for hit shows.
Run fewer commercials. Charge more for them. But a sponsor’s ad would no longer be buried among ten in a single spot break. People might actually not fast forward through commercials if there was only one or two at a time. And it means more program content time so better audience retention.
People need entertainment, especially during hard times. It’s not like you’re in the mortgage broker business. Your audience is out there. Improve your business models and go get them. It’s something to think about on your private jet to Sundance.