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Steven Spielberg and George Lucas foresee an "implosion" and radical shift in the film industry

Jun. 13, 2013by: Alex Maidy

When Steven Spielberg and George Lucas talk, Hollywood listens. The two friends also represent some very different things: Spielberg is the ultimate studio director who has been able to get practically any film made while Lucas has become one of the biggest independent filmmakers of all time (Note: I use the term "independent filmmaker" to represent Lucas financing the STAR WARS prequels with his own money despite having studio distribution). But, as the world of movies changes thanks to the Internet and digital methods of filmmaking, both of these movie legends have predicted a major shift is coming for the world of studio cinema.

At an event commemorating the new USC School of Cinematic Arts building on Wednesday, Spielberg shared his vision that as mega-budget films continue to flop we will soon see it hit our wallets:

"you're gonna have to pay $25 for the next IRON MAN, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see LINCOLN."

Spielberg's LINCOLN was a critical success and did well at the box office but was nowhere near the results of films like IRON MAN 3 or THE AVENGERS or even THE HUNGER GAMES. George Lucas thinks less movies will be made each year and will play in theaters for longer runs, citing the way Broadway shows remain on stage for a year at a time. While I think Spielberg is right, Lucas' prediction doesn't take into account the high level of piracy possible with a theatrical film.

As filmmakers come up with less bankable ideas for movies, studios are less likely to pony up the budget to make them. Spielberg says these ideas are too unpredictable for a studio to support.

"That's the big danger, and there's eventually going to be an implosion or a big meltdown. There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm."

Spielberg shared that he barely got LINCOLN made and that it was very close to being an HBO movie. These comments come from the directors as both have begun pulling back from their work as directors. Spielberg has halted multiple upcoming films for various reasons, including ROBOPOCALYPSE while Lucas famously sold STAR WARS and his company to Disney for $4 billion.

"We're talking Lincoln and Red Tails -- we barely got them into theaters. You're talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can't get their movie into a theater," Lucas said. "I got more people into Lincoln than you got into Red Tails," Spielberg joked.

This year alone we have heard of trouble on WORLD WAR Z as well as MAD MAX: FURY ROAD and 47 RONIN, all big budget films that are not guaranteed to make back their budgets. JOHN CARTER was a huge ding in Disney's spotless track record and is only the beginning. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas may be right and things are changing. With platforms like Netflix and Xbox Live launching tons of original content, the future of going to the movie theater is bound to change. Will it be their predicted implosion? Time will tell.

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+3
1:08PM on 06/14/2013
Spielberg also failed to mention that studios don't want movies, they want franchises.
Spielberg also failed to mention that studios don't want movies, they want franchises.
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+2
12:17PM on 06/14/2013
Several things I'd like to say about all this. Although they're right about filmmaking making changes, they're wrong in saying it's a bad thing. I think if anything filmmaking is even more approachable than ever with our technology today. Today's tech allows for all the scattered creativity throughout the world to be made into film instead of just hoping a small group of writers come up with good ideas for movies. Check out all the aspiring filmmakers on Vimeo if you don't believe me. I think
Several things I'd like to say about all this. Although they're right about filmmaking making changes, they're wrong in saying it's a bad thing. I think if anything filmmaking is even more approachable than ever with our technology today. Today's tech allows for all the scattered creativity throughout the world to be made into film instead of just hoping a small group of writers come up with good ideas for movies. Check out all the aspiring filmmakers on Vimeo if you don't believe me. I think the biggest change ahead is that film will be less reliant on big studios in the future (that's a GREAT thing). With people always being creative and technology getting cheaper, studio reliance goes down because you no longer need hundreds of millions to make a great film like the old Lucas/Spielberg days. As for the big productions such as said Iron Man, I believe 'violentbuddha' is spot on in saying that studios will band together to finance big-budget films to minimize risk. It's happening now and it's working. You better believe if I have the option to see Lincoln for $7 or Iron Man for $25, I'll see Lincoln 3 times before seeing Iron Man once. People lashed out over a $2-$3 raise in ticket prices just for adding 3D to the film, you think people will take a $10 raise for no reason lightly? As much as I LOVE movies and theaters, I wouldn't support that for a minute. I honestly love these two guys but they're dead wrong. The movie biz is making more money than EVER and it's still only growing. As an aspiring filmmaker myself, this gradual industry change is good for the future. And btw, the world is NOT running out of ideas, only Hollywood is. The future of filmmaking gives all those not connected to Hollywood a better chance to make their vision a film, without some studio suit dropping by making all the creative decisions for you. Sorry to rant on so much but I'm very passionate about movies and it sucks to see two legends totally mistaken. So if studios won't back as many movies, you think the general public is cool with just having less movies? Noooo. The answer is: FUCK THE STUDIOS, WE'LL MAKE OUR MOVIES WITHOUT YOU. Rant over :)
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9:15AM on 06/14/2013

I love Spielberg and Lucas....

...but I'm not buying that. I know they have a pulse on the industry but we've seen a massive surge in smaller independent films in the last few years making big strides in the industry. The reason some of these mega-budget films failed is because they weren't marketed properly. And lets face it George, "Red Tails" was pretty bad and nobody had much interest in seeing it so I think your "difficulty" in getting it made was kind of justified.
...but I'm not buying that. I know they have a pulse on the industry but we've seen a massive surge in smaller independent films in the last few years making big strides in the industry. The reason some of these mega-budget films failed is because they weren't marketed properly. And lets face it George, "Red Tails" was pretty bad and nobody had much interest in seeing it so I think your "difficulty" in getting it made was kind of justified.
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8:10AM on 06/14/2013

all due respect

but thats crap. what you will see is actually whats already starting. big budget movies are no longer broought out by a single studio. if you notice, at the start of Man of Steel, you get, not just the WB logo, but have to sit through 4 or 5 of them. you will simply see more banding together to get the big tent films out there at whatever the cost. and as for having fewer films, i could do with one or two fewer Tyler Perry joints a year.
but thats crap. what you will see is actually whats already starting. big budget movies are no longer broought out by a single studio. if you notice, at the start of Man of Steel, you get, not just the WB logo, but have to sit through 4 or 5 of them. you will simply see more banding together to get the big tent films out there at whatever the cost. and as for having fewer films, i could do with one or two fewer Tyler Perry joints a year.
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6:22AM on 06/14/2013

D:

Spielberg sounds like he's mad because his films aren't really garnering the same type of success as others in the biz right now. His movies aren't really driving the kids to see his movies. If he wants to make more bank on movies, than stop catering to WW2 buffs and an older generation. George Lucas shouldn't even be in the same room with Spielberg, and shouldn't be taken seriously.
Spielberg sounds like he's mad because his films aren't really garnering the same type of success as others in the biz right now. His movies aren't really driving the kids to see his movies. If he wants to make more bank on movies, than stop catering to WW2 buffs and an older generation. George Lucas shouldn't even be in the same room with Spielberg, and shouldn't be taken seriously.
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2:32PM on 06/14/2013
This.
This.
3:58AM on 06/14/2013

I have an idea that will save the film industry:

Make good films.

I know, I know, it's a radical idea, but it just might work!
Make good films.

I know, I know, it's a radical idea, but it just might work!
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+10
11:03PM on 06/13/2013
More than anything else, I think the global market will have an impact on film. When you look at Lincoln or Red Tails (maybe not the best examples, but still), they're movies about American History and appeal mostly to american audiences. Studios would rather churn out another crappy POTC, Die Hard, or Hangover movie that will appeal to audiences in foreign countries based on name recognition instead of quality. Sadly this trend has already started.
More than anything else, I think the global market will have an impact on film. When you look at Lincoln or Red Tails (maybe not the best examples, but still), they're movies about American History and appeal mostly to american audiences. Studios would rather churn out another crappy POTC, Die Hard, or Hangover movie that will appeal to audiences in foreign countries based on name recognition instead of quality. Sadly this trend has already started.
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+10
8:57PM on 06/13/2013
I think this has more to with legends realizing the industry has changed and they really havent kept up with it.
I think this has more to with legends realizing the industry has changed and they really havent kept up with it.
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7:15PM on 06/13/2013

Agreed

Not with the higher ticket prices for tentpole movies vs "standard" films (i guess it's possible, but unlikely) but that "eventually" studios will find themselves losing money making these big budgeted films by not thinking whether or not the story will attract an audience. The other side is that studios will ONLY make tentpole (and the occasional vanity project to keep their tentpole players happy) leaving a gap that Netflix, XBOX, and Amazon are pouncing on. It's the new "direct to video"!
Not with the higher ticket prices for tentpole movies vs "standard" films (i guess it's possible, but unlikely) but that "eventually" studios will find themselves losing money making these big budgeted films by not thinking whether or not the story will attract an audience. The other side is that studios will ONLY make tentpole (and the occasional vanity project to keep their tentpole players happy) leaving a gap that Netflix, XBOX, and Amazon are pouncing on. It's the new "direct to video"! Which is fine and all, but creative vision will be limited to the budgets and the market of these "delivery services" BTW, It's not that all VOD or DTV are bad movies, they just can't compete being in theaters alongside Pirates of the Caribbean 8 or the next Batman reboot .
The "explode" these very wise film makers are warning us about has happened before (The Golden Compass, Dark Materials series and every other studio that bought rights to the next LOTR or HP clone) and two of those studios went bankrupt as a result. Many more were either subdivided or liquidated into the surviving studios. This scared everyone and no one was taking any chances. Henceforth a sea of "Proven" Properties. remakes and other "built in audience" crowd pleasers were born, and in full force.
This will eventually wear an audience out (as it did years ago). Really. Ask yourself, do you really want another reboot of Batman before the ink on the Nolan's scripts is even dry? Do you want to see a rushed Justice League movie or a reboot of Jurassic Park, or Jaws or any other "know" tried and true property?
Studios think you do so. They will continue to thrown money at these properties that have proven will make them a profit (it is an investment business after all) until the day (one summer day, probably) when one film goes too far over budget and too low in returns and cost someone their job. Fearing the same fate, a change will occur.
Footnote: John Carter was thrown under the bus because of a change in studio personnel. While not the greatest film, it did make it's money back; even set a few record overseas. $250 included P&R (does anyone really believe there was $125 mil was spent on P&R for that movie? How much does it really cost to remove a few words from the title and throw together THAT trailer) but Disney will always report this as a failure.
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7:12PM on 06/13/2013
I agree on both their opinions, but I think that hollywood should just depend on more less budget better content. There are major blockbuster movies out there that was made on the budget of craft services of Ironman. Bourne was made from 25 million, then ultimatum was on a 80 million budget, and it made more than it cost. C'mon Hollywood Column?
I agree on both their opinions, but I think that hollywood should just depend on more less budget better content. There are major blockbuster movies out there that was made on the budget of craft services of Ironman. Bourne was made from 25 million, then ultimatum was on a 80 million budget, and it made more than it cost. C'mon Hollywood Column?
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+14
6:39PM on 06/13/2013

John Carter

GREAT film that suffered from the studio not knowing what they had and marketing it in the completely wrong way. Disney dropped the ball and is the reason this film did not make profit in the theater.
GREAT film that suffered from the studio not knowing what they had and marketing it in the completely wrong way. Disney dropped the ball and is the reason this film did not make profit in the theater.
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10:45PM on 06/13/2013
PREACH
PREACH
7:15AM on 06/14/2013
Really was a great film.
Really was a great film.
5:21PM on 06/13/2013
Well Red Tails was horrible so that is the main reason that noone watched it because it sucked. And I like Spielberg but this is coming from the guy who produced the Transformers trilogy, but he is bitching about mega-budget movies come on.
Well Red Tails was horrible so that is the main reason that noone watched it because it sucked. And I like Spielberg but this is coming from the guy who produced the Transformers trilogy, but he is bitching about mega-budget movies come on.
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1:16AM on 06/14/2013
You're so right, really hypocritical.
You're so right, really hypocritical.
+3
5:18PM on 06/13/2013
George Lucas: "Ribbbbbbittttt"
George Lucas: "Ribbbbbbittttt"
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+11
5:10PM on 06/13/2013
Hmmm....

I don't see a 'radical' change. Things have been pretty consistent for a couple of years now.

Using John Carter as an example of a financially disappointing film doesn't cover everything wrong with said film. Sure, it was financially disappointing, but the script wasn't strong, and it ran way too long. (Rhyming wasn't intended). Spielberg using Red Tails as an example is also bad because - like John Carter - the writing was disappointing. The Tuskegee heroes were written as
Hmmm....

I don't see a 'radical' change. Things have been pretty consistent for a couple of years now.

Using John Carter as an example of a financially disappointing film doesn't cover everything wrong with said film. Sure, it was financially disappointing, but the script wasn't strong, and it ran way too long. (Rhyming wasn't intended). Spielberg using Red Tails as an example is also bad because - like John Carter - the writing was disappointing. The Tuskegee heroes were written as cardboard cutouts and didn't not give us a story to relate to; I have the same argument with Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna, which was also a film about black soldiers, but had no strong story or people to relate to.

Personally, Spielberg and Lucas (who were big in the 80s) are a lot more miss-than-hit these days....at least for me. Now, lets see what veterans Martin Scorsese (who didn't do justice to the Infernal Affairs remake, IMO, but keeps reinventing himself with other films) and Clint Eastwood (who makes different types of films at varying success - but, correct me if I'm wrong, has been in the business longer than Spielberg and Lucas) have to say. Even Woody Allen is still doing his thing these days.

Moreover, there are a lot more voices out there in the American film business: Chris Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, Spike Lee is telling other stories (or, at least, directing stories like Oldboy)...and we also have my favorite director Brad Bird doing his thing. Other names like Kathryn Bigelow, Justin Lin...people - an Asian and a woman - you probably wouldn't have seen years ago directing big name films, especially when Spielberg and Lucas were 'big players.'

The only 'radical change' are the budgets getting bigger, and a need for stronger scripts. Although, the latter was always a need no matter the era of cinema.
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4:42PM on 06/13/2013
stop paying stars 10-50 million and chunks of the movies backend, and u wont have all these $200 million budget movies. Lower budget equals lower ticket prices.
stop paying stars 10-50 million and chunks of the movies backend, and u wont have all these $200 million budget movies. Lower budget equals lower ticket prices.
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+24
4:14PM on 06/13/2013
I don't understand how a multi-billionaire with his own production company can't finance Lincoln out of pocket.
I don't understand how a multi-billionaire with his own production company can't finance Lincoln out of pocket.
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6:59PM on 06/13/2013
because that's how multi billionaires remain multi billionaires. they use other peoples money.
because that's how multi billionaires remain multi billionaires. they use other peoples money.
+5
4:04PM on 06/13/2013
Red Tails was shit, and Lincoln is a great film. That's why Lincoln did better, Mr. Spielberg. Quit making excuses for your friend.
Red Tails was shit, and Lincoln is a great film. That's why Lincoln did better, Mr. Spielberg. Quit making excuses for your friend.
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+7
4:02PM on 06/13/2013

Old men that are out of touch.

While I agree that Hollywood is in a state of some sort of flux right now, I can't say I agree with this at all. As some of my colleagues have pointed out: Red Tails and Lincoln are not a great example for denoting any kind of change in the movie industry.

I think first and foremost that unless movie theaters are drastically updated with the best technology and prices aren't lowered (or at least stay the same for the next couple decades) that yeah, they might be on the way out. Hollywood
While I agree that Hollywood is in a state of some sort of flux right now, I can't say I agree with this at all. As some of my colleagues have pointed out: Red Tails and Lincoln are not a great example for denoting any kind of change in the movie industry.

I think first and foremost that unless movie theaters are drastically updated with the best technology and prices aren't lowered (or at least stay the same for the next couple decades) that yeah, they might be on the way out. Hollywood will never get back lost money by increasing a ticket price for Iron Man 4. All that would do is make it flop harder and you'd see an increase in your DVD/Blu-Ray sales and piracy. If Hollywood is to do anything it should be to spend more responsibly and disavow the notion of the Movie Star that needs to be paid 20+ million when the biggest movies of all-time starred practical no-names at the time of their release.

And the idea that there aren't great, fresh ideas out there for studio's to take risks on is just ridiculous. Hollywood is so closed off from outside sources that the only people inside giving ideas are the ones that are all out of them or just rehashing their big ones. The future of cinema is indeed independent filmmakers getting projects out on the internet on websites, blogs, and youtube. Hopefully, Hollywood will embrace some of these new pioneers and give them budgets to work with. Otherwise we're stuck with the Old Guard getting in the way.
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3:56PM on 06/13/2013

Disagree

Box office numbers globally are on the rise. Films are making more money than they ever had. Lincoln made over a $100 million domestically, nearly $200, which it wouldn't have on HBO. VOD films are generally lesser quality films that couldn't get a theatrical release. Hundreds of millions of people watch the Oscars globally. Studios since the very dawn of the filmmaking have been going bankrupt or rising from the ashes (MGM, RKO). For pete's sake, even Scorsese movies are making more money now
Box office numbers globally are on the rise. Films are making more money than they ever had. Lincoln made over a $100 million domestically, nearly $200, which it wouldn't have on HBO. VOD films are generally lesser quality films that couldn't get a theatrical release. Hundreds of millions of people watch the Oscars globally. Studios since the very dawn of the filmmaking have been going bankrupt or rising from the ashes (MGM, RKO). For pete's sake, even Scorsese movies are making more money now then they ever did when he was in his "Prime."

We will always live in a world with tentpole movies. Some have bombed, some have succeeded. Look at this, until "Titanic" in 1997, there had NEVER been a billion dollar film globally. Now? We've had over a dozen. When a studio can print money like that, why would they ever stop releasing films in a theater?

One more point. Disney bombs with "John Carter"... then less than a year later, they buy the Star Wars property for over $4 billion. Yeah... they're REALLY hurting from that one.
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+34
3:46PM on 06/13/2013
Spielberg has a big nose. Lucas has a small nose. Together they have a normal nose.
Spielberg has a big nose. Lucas has a small nose. Together they have a normal nose.
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5:22PM on 06/13/2013
LMAO.. I don't know why that's so funny, but it is.. Maybe because I'm reading all these serious comments about the film industry in turmoil and then I read this, which came completely from left field.. LOL
LMAO.. I don't know why that's so funny, but it is.. Maybe because I'm reading all these serious comments about the film industry in turmoil and then I read this, which came completely from left field.. LOL
5:36PM on 06/13/2013
Mr. Moe has the best comment ever since it's so random...lol
Mr. Moe has the best comment ever since it's so random...lol
3:42PM on 06/13/2013
Cerealkiller is on the right page, I thought with these 2 legendary directors they would have made some valid points, but bitching that Red Tails didn't do Iron-Man 3 money is ridiculous, it seems more like 2 old men out of touch with modern day society, films playing in theaters for longer, for a year?!?! The future of film is sadly the demise of movie theaters, with release dates and home release getting shorter and shorter, sometimes now the same day, and home theater technology improving,
Cerealkiller is on the right page, I thought with these 2 legendary directors they would have made some valid points, but bitching that Red Tails didn't do Iron-Man 3 money is ridiculous, it seems more like 2 old men out of touch with modern day society, films playing in theaters for longer, for a year?!?! The future of film is sadly the demise of movie theaters, with release dates and home release getting shorter and shorter, sometimes now the same day, and home theater technology improving, and that attendence at theater at an all time low we are entering a new age, my prediction is we are a few years away from all movies being released on all formats at the same time. After that it's a long downhill battle for theaters.
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3:41PM on 06/13/2013

I see it too!

and it began when someone replaced the guns in E.T. with walkie talkies, and shia labeouf was made a part of Indiana Jones!
and it began when someone replaced the guns in E.T. with walkie talkies, and shia labeouf was made a part of Indiana Jones!
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3:34PM on 06/13/2013
I do remember back in the 80s when movies used to last more than a year in theatres, it happened with Top Gun, Crcodile Dundee & various other movies. I would certainly love it to go back to being that way, but it's just not gonna happen, not with Netflix, Redbox & DVD/blu-rays.

Many people say Spielberg created the summer blockbuster when Jaws came out & then again with Jurassic Park. If he can't even get a movie to be distributed out to theatres than thats a shame. The movie experience
I do remember back in the 80s when movies used to last more than a year in theatres, it happened with Top Gun, Crcodile Dundee & various other movies. I would certainly love it to go back to being that way, but it's just not gonna happen, not with Netflix, Redbox & DVD/blu-rays.

Many people say Spielberg created the summer blockbuster when Jaws came out & then again with Jurassic Park. If he can't even get a movie to be distributed out to theatres than thats a shame. The movie experience to me is just not the same to me & thats why I only go about 4 or 5 times a year now. When you have to resort to making sequels to nearly 20 year old movies & remakes that have no business even being greenlit, then people will lose interest.
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3:31PM on 06/13/2013
I might be more interested in what they have to say if their proof (lincoln and red tails) were better movies. I also think that the paradigm shift in the movie industry won't be a change in the pricing of movie based on which movie is actually playing, but a dissolution of the entire cinema going experience. Smaller theaters that specialize in limited releases might get a bump, but the multiplexes are definitely on the way out. Especially with VOD and home theaters becoming more and more
I might be more interested in what they have to say if their proof (lincoln and red tails) were better movies. I also think that the paradigm shift in the movie industry won't be a change in the pricing of movie based on which movie is actually playing, but a dissolution of the entire cinema going experience. Smaller theaters that specialize in limited releases might get a bump, but the multiplexes are definitely on the way out. Especially with VOD and home theaters becoming more and more popular
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3:37PM on 06/13/2013
So Oscar nominations & wins, great reviews, and solid box office isn't enough proof that Lincoln was "a better movie".
So Oscar nominations & wins, great reviews, and solid box office isn't enough proof that Lincoln was "a better movie".
3:43PM on 06/13/2013
@Bob, I wasn't crazy about it
@Bob, I wasn't crazy about it
+14
3:26PM on 06/13/2013
Greatest thing about going to the movies is sharing the reaction from everyone else in the theaters. I wouldnt want that to leave nor change.
Greatest thing about going to the movies is sharing the reaction from everyone else in the theaters. I wouldnt want that to leave nor change.
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