No One Weeps For Hollywood

It seems like the last few weeks we’ve been discussing the potential of a Hollywood meltdown.  Admittedly with Spielberg starts talking disaster, you listen.  There’s plenty of comments on it, from our own Serdar to

So though I don’t think we’re there yet, I have to concede that it seems Hollywood is heading for a meltdown.  The second half of the summer doesn’t seem to be going too hot, though I will say Despicable Me 2 really did deserve to do well.

But my praise for the family/superhero/romcom/comedy of the summer aside, I do think that the meltdown is coming, probably next year, as the pre-planned tent poles don’t provide a lot of support.  So what happens if there is a Hollywood collapse, with a huge amount of blockbusters not making enough money, and the risk-phobic studios not being sure what to do?

One of my first thoughts is that a lot of people won’t give a damn.

Hollywood doesn’t have a lot of friends, if you think about it.  It’s a constant target of criticism one way or another, and “we tried to do a bunch of big pandering blockbusters and it failed” won’t get any sympathy.  People are rarely emotionally attached to movies, since the next big thing always has to come along.

I’ve seen people more attached emotionally to software and technology companies, though perhaps I’m a bit biased considering where I live.  But sadly, I don’t think I am.

When Hollywood melts down it won’t have many friends among the consumers.

In fact, how many forms of media are out there now, how many forms of access?  There’s video games and anime, the ever-popular BBC imports, official fanfic from Amazon, and epic cable productions like Game of Thrones.  I’ve seen more emotional dedication to Tyrion Lannister and the cast of Fairy Tail than to The Next Blockbuster*.

So when Holllywood goes, no one’s going to care.

Ever seen people really care about an actor, and forgive them a bad film?  Ever seen people “just wait” for a band to get it back together?  Ever seen people tolerate a bad round of anime assuming the next studio creation will be better?  I don’t think Hollywood has that level of attachment.  Or care.  Or concern.

Thank also means:

  1. Other sources of media could take advantage of a collapse.  If you’ve seen any of the trailers for the Captain Harlock film, that’s one dub away from a nice theater release.  Also, sexy space pirates.
  2. Many other media can get more and more mindshare.  A nice meltdown is going to decrease Hollywood’s prominence – and add to a sense of contempt.
  3. Media producers with a better sense of dedicated audiences and long-term planning will have a chance to develop real emotional attachment.  Good luck reclaiming that audience.
  4. I think emotionally relevant films and studios and companies will survive.  They are out there (look at the way people love Pixar and Dreamworks).  What they’ll do in this changed landscape will be interesting.
  5. Remember some companies in movies don’t depend on them (check out the Disney analysis here).  A meltdown may not matter overmuch to them – but it will shake up business arrangements.

So the fall seems inevitable.  Big names are calling it out.  I think when it happens, it will be with a series of whimpers, and people will indifferently look elsewhere. What will be left of the movie industry will be a bunch of risk-phobic planners with no idea what to do next and no one caring.

That’s when it’s going to get even more interesting.  And you know what?

I’m not sure what’ll be next.

– Steven

* If you did not just visualize a disturbing crossover, you aren’t trying hard enough.