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Saturday, October 21, 2006

Long Tail: George Lucas Says Phooey To Theatrical Release

The current issue of Variety informs:

"George Lucas has a message for studios that are cutting their slates and shifting toward big-budget tentpoles and franchises: You've got it all wrong. The creator of "Star Wars," which stamped the template for the franchise-tentpole film, says many small films and Web distribution are the future.

And in case anyone doubts he means it, Lucasfilm is getting out of the [theatrical-release] movie biz."We don't want to make movies. We're about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we've moved away from the feature film thing because it's too expensive and it's too risky.

Spending $100 million on production costs and another $100 million on P&A makes no sense, he said. "For that same $200 million, I can make 50-60 two-hour movies. That's 120 hours as opposed to two hours. In the future market, that's where it's going to land, because it's going to be all pay-per-view and downloadable."

Chris Anderson at Longtail.com adds

That's good news for the vast majority of filmmakers, who have little chance of getting box office distribution today. There's abundant supply of filmmaking talent and abundant demand for their work. The only thing standing in the way is the incredibly limited channel of theatrical release. Fewer than 150 films get distribution on 1,000 screens or more (the definition of mainstream release) each year. Meanwhile, more than 13,000 films are now submitted each year to just one independent film fest--the Tribeca Film Festival--alone. Lucas is right that box-office domination of the movie business seems a throwback to an earlier day of scarcity. Today it's getting cheaper and easier to make a movie. Why shouldn't it be cheaper and easier to distribute it, too?

Lucas further says he believes Americans are abandoning the moviegoing habit for good.

"I don't think anything's going to be a habit anymore. I think people are going to be drawn to a certain medium in their leisure time and they're going to do it because there is a desire to do it at that particular moment in time. Everything is going to be a matter of choice. I think that's going to be a huge revolution in the industry."

AKI COMMENT:

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2 comments:

Incognito said...

Very interesting post. I'd be curious to know what Lucas Films has plans for on TV or if there have been any other filmmakers that have decided to take the bold step of ditching the box office.

The most thoght provoking bit of the article though for me was that American Movie Goers don't necessarily abide by the habit of going to the movies anymore (or as much).

Do you have any research or articles on that? Does anyone know anything about whether the massive success of DVDs/Online has impacted movie-going habits?

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

according to the article, his plans seem to center on Star Wars episodes, and Indiana Jones episodes...