top of page
  • Qikfinger Films

Hollywood, Spend Less & Get More

Updated: Mar 2

The New York Times published an opinion piece by Mark Harris concerning the demise of the present Hollywood Studio System as it searches for a new financial structure. Haven’t we heard this before? Big Studios, playing for profits, pre-existing comic book titles, and remakes have created a death spiral at the box office. It’s not a secret as to why they’re panicked. Post-pandemic audiences are not rushing back to the theater. So what’s the cause? Could it be the old Hollywood fear of original content?

Originality entails risk. Creativity is not a guarantee of profit. The problems with Hollywood in 2023 were caused by Hollywood’s problems in 2007. Big studio executives can’t afford to roll the dice on smaller productions because of enormous overhead foisted on every project. When the WGA struck in 2007, Screenwriters were asking for a share of DVD sales and a raise in pay from Cable TV. In 2023, it was all about streaming, AI, and working conditions for writers on network and streaming productions. In short, they didn’t fairly compensate writers for developing shows that never aired. They didn’t want to pay for work they contracted. Greed and overhead is a powerful combo. Big Streamers and Studios refused to share data on viewership and profits derived from its streamed features and episodics. In short, they didn’t want to pay residuals to writers for original content. Screenwriters also rejected the idea of AI algorithms writing formula schlock derivative of every film and literary work ever created.

Studio productions cost a fortune because two thirds of the money spent goes to advertising. For a multimillion dollar Tent-Pole, that’s a lot of profit to make back before breaking even. Where Studios want to cut costs will eventually kill the Golden Goose. Starvation wages for writers and actors without residual payments is a leading contributor to Box Office Cancer. AI screenplays and automated actors will be its demise.

Features produced by streamers themselves, with subscribers paying for content, have minuscule advertising budgets. Streamers can run trailers and banners directly to their own built-in demographic. Freeing up huge overhead, they can take a low budget risk on original ideas and unknown actors. When budgets are low, the screenplay becomes the star of the show, the very foundation upon which a film’s success relies…not advertising… not old hat concepts and remakes, but original, character driven scripts.

It’s hard to predict the future of movie exhibition. The movie theater experience is still a wonderful thing except when there’s drivel at the box office. So what’s keeping Hollywood dependent theaters afloat? The answer is independent films produced and distributed outside of the studio system. Story driven, concept driven, character driven productions can deliver the film experience without excessive production costs. This is the soul of cinema, filmmakers making films because of their love of filmmaking and connecting with an audience. Streaming allows that to happen at home. Theater exhibitors should take note.

14 views0 comments


bottom of page