Spielberg & Lucas Want to Kill Your Movie Buzz. ~ Kristina Peterson

Via on Jun 16, 2013

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Earlier this week, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas predicted that movie-going would become an event similar to attending a broadway play or a major league baseball game.

Speaking on a panel at the University of Southern California, they foretold a future where the studio system would focus on extremely expensive movies. And in order to recoup the cost of showing these movies, theater chains would switch to the highly profitable “Fork and Screen” model where ultra-luxurious theatres would cater to those who can afford to pay $50 to $100 for a ticket with amenities such as waiter service and leather reclining loungers.

Spielberg and Lucas see smaller, quirky, innovative and experimental movies and documentaries moving to video on demand services where marketers can reach a niche audience without going through the expensive distribution process. (The original article in Variety can be found here.)

This concept sounds great, right? Watch whatever we want in the comfort of our own homes.

There’s only one problem and it might sound silly, but what are you going to talk about at work? When you travel? With your friends at dinner?

Having worked in film production for close to 20 years, I can tell you this:

Movies are a way to float extremely dangerous ideas in a very safe environment; they are a safe way to have uncomfortable discussions.

Movies are how we confront mental illness, tragic diseases, financial scandals, triumph and heartbreak. And sometimes, movies are just how we get a few hours away from our problems.

But movies are also how we form a collective foundation to have a discussion. Walk through your local restaurant or coffee shop and count how many conversations you overhear about a current movie or documentary in the theaters.

Now, remove this collective experience and replace it with an arena where only the financially secure can see the biggest films for years and years. And the rest of us each watch a different show at home.

When was the last time you had a discussion at work about the latest broadway play? Or the last major sports event you attended?

Movie-going is already expensive and many of my friends who have suffered economically in the last few years removed them from their list of priorities. Netflix, the occasional ITunes rental and free tv replaced going out to see the latest blockbuster.

Although the conversations about movies and the ideas they explored were still there, they were delayed. “Did you see The Hunger Games?”  “Not yet. We’ll see it next year when it’s on Netflix.” Discussions about competition, youth, fascism, retribution, nationalism and current comparisons between the present political climate and a fictional one were not explored.

Discussing the book in the same context as the movie resulted in an odd disconnect.

There’s something about film that triggers an immediate collective foundation—and it allows us to have something in common with a complete stranger. I’ve discussed the latest movies with people in coffee shops, restaurants, diners and hotels in Cairo, Montevideo, Barcelona, Edinburgh and London.

It opens the door to have a collective experience as a community—and it opens the door to discussing those uncomfortable or dangerous ideas within a safe context. Even the most comi-book-action-schlock -horror fest still has core themes that help us connect, think, laugh or cry.

Spielberg and Lucas are two of the greatest filmmakers of our time and they have been miles ahead in their prediction and use of technology. I can only hope that in this regard, they are wrong, because I would be sad to see the word’s “Let’s go catch a movie tonight” disappear from regular use.

To close, here’s a lovely cartoon dramatization of Roger Ebert’s philosophy.

 

Kristina PetersonKristina Peterson is a film production refugee.  After 15 years as a yoga student, she took her first teacher training in 2010 from Annie Carpenter in Venice, California. She now resides in the south where the mosquitoes are bigger and the bourbon is sweeter and she teaches yoga when she can, works on films that touch her heart and studies history because she hopes to avoid the mistakes of the past.

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

{Photo: via Diana on Pinterest}

 

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8 Responses to “Spielberg & Lucas Want to Kill Your Movie Buzz. ~ Kristina Peterson”

  1. Tye says:

    As a fellow film veteran and someone who has worked with you before (Hey girl!) I have to say, I hope they are wrong for so many reasons. Going to a film is an ability to share in a collective dream with people, and to turn it into something that is so out of reach or expensive that it becomes a luxury item is a shame and certainly the end of a true period in time when the masses would for a brief moment, forget their problems and just be…together. During the depression every industry suffered and people were desperate for life and entertainment…so they went to movies. It was a way to escape. To forget for 2 hours the suffering and pain that they were feeling. Going to a movie is a way to be, even if just for a little bit, someone else. I pray that their narrow views are wrong and that the experience of a summer blockbuster in a darkened theater on a hot July night continues to capture the imaginations of all generations, not just those that can afford it.

  2. Kristychan88 says:

    Thanks Tye! I hope they are wrong in their predictions. Many people credit movies for inspiring them, consoling them, even saving them. "Going to the movies" has always been one of my favorite activities, in good times and bad.

  3. Brandi S. says:

    I wish there were more room for art in film. To me, making art is about expression. Experiencing art is about seeing yourself, better, differently. It’s a scary thing to see your chosen medium for artistry react systematically with fear, nearly disregarding what makes it special. The good news is that a good story, a good film will always find its way. Hopefully indie film will continue to find a way to continue to expand and fill in the gaps. Television, in my opinion, is doing a better job of managing the tool of media by offering dynamic and compelling stories and characters. Clicking my heels that film remembers how to be itself.

    Congrats Kristina!

    • Kristychan88 says:

      Although independent film will always exist, the studio marketing and distribution machine is a tremendous boost. Acknowledging that studios and theatres are for profit operations, I would hate to see the future that these two industry giants predict. Art touches our souls. Television is doing a fabulous job of keeping dynamic storytelling alive, but inundated by so much choice, it is really hard to have a conversation about common TV shows. I was recently banned from speaking at a dinner party so I wouldn't reveal "spoilers" about the Downton Abbey season 3 finale. 6 months AFTER it had been shown because two people had not still not watched it on their DVR. So what did we talk about instead? Game of Thrones and which politicians were which characters….

  4. sionlidster says:

    Great post Kristina! I'm intrigued as to the future of film. I've just been writing about a new form of reality TV which is going to be comprised of 24/7 youtube videos, tweets and instagram photos as opposed to the usual 30 – 60 minute TV programme times. I wonder how technology will affect film in the future and, more importantly, how we connect through the medium…

    I can see a big change coming, but I am 100% with you and your argument. The cinema can't become elitist. Perhaps with the advent of 'Fork and Screen' we will see a surge of the opposite also – the kind of small time old school cinemas that have been shutting down like crazy the last decade or so…

    • Kristychan88 says:

      I am hoping that one offshoot of movies becoming more expensive is that communities may choose to host "Movies in the Park" type events. Many places offer these and it's a great opportunity to meet your neighbors. I am guilty of watching YouTube videos for hours on my AppleTV at home and I don't feel there is anything wrong with that

  5. Yasmeen says:

    This is a wonderfully written post about an overlooked topic. I have lost count of how many times I hear friends say "I'm waiting for that movie to come out on red box." Recently, I asked a friend to go to the movies with me but she politely declined due to budget constraints. I don't think people realize how much of an impact they have on the industry.

    Kristina, I agree with you. Going to the movie theater offers us a unique experience. It is the experience that I think is the key element. Sure we can watch YouTube and Netflix at home. We may even have surround sound systems and comfortable lounge chairs at home, hence the home theater. But nothing compares to experiencing the big screen and sharing that experience with a community of strangers. It is similar to attending a live concert. There is magic in the moment.

    Hopefully people will continue to remember that because what is life without experiences?

    I do love the movies in the park events but being inside a cozy yet spacious venue offers a different experience. Fork and Screen venues offer a more pampered experience but sometimes eating while watching can be distracting.

    Dinner first then a movie. It's a classic outing…and hopefully a timeless one too!

    • Kristychan88 says:

      I hope so! Dinner and a movie has always been my favorite night out. And you are right, there is something so great about being in the cocoon of a theater that affords a much more satisfying movie watching experience. Home is too distracting. And too bright! Thanks for reading!

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