June 16, 2013

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

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 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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