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

06.13.2013

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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