This is far more important than most people think—the movie box office for July of 2017 was down 8% from the same period a year ago. Additionally Disney has lost around 4 million subscribers to its Disney Channels over the past three years as kids turn to other forms of entertainment. More and more homes are cutting their cable service as it’s just too expensive for what people get, and theater owners are struggling to survive with Hollywood giving them very little to work with to justify the big investment that a movie ticket costs these days. That same home theater market is keeping people home more rather than go to the theater to see movies that could otherwise just be seen on Netflix. If you couple all that with the Donald Trump versus the media battle—which will hurt traditional media extensively, the entertainment industry is in big trouble—which I have been saying for a long time. All the stocks are down for the theater owners—which I feel sorry for. The distributors have let them down by pushing a product that was just too liberal for mainstream American audiences and now they’ve all been hung out to dry.
For about 20 years I bounced around with tentative meetings within Hollywood. For me it was more than a treasure hunt, I really wanted to make movies and to contribute to the library of wonderful movies that I had grown up with. The business end was something I didn’t have much patience for since most of the people running the industry were radically more liberal than I was. So I’d get a project floating around out there but it would go cold. The money guys were also liberal so the project proposals I suggested were either heavily scrutinized with extensive re-writes to soften them up, or they just weren’t getting off the ground. In a few cases I was offered positions in the industry, but my wife didn’t want to move to California—and without living in such a way that you could network in that town, it was pretty much impossible to get any project off the ground. I went to several film festivals, won a few screenwriting awards and ended up doing a few bull whip stunts for legitimate studios but the last time I flew back from Hollywood in 2008 I knew that the industry was in trouble from a business perspective. They weren’t going to make it which made me sad, because I liked traditional Hollywood—I always liked Howard Hughes, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Albert Hitchcock, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. These new filmmakers in Hollywood were too political and I was from a flyover state so things just weren’t going to work out. After that last trip I put my focus into other business opportunities and waited for the inevitable which is now upon us.
Movies cost too much to make, the labor unions which represent all the industry people has forced them all to think too collectively to stay in touch with the American people. Reading with great interest how the Han Solo movie fell apart at Lucasfilm it’s obvious that the new generation is just too soft and manipulated by their director’s guilds—into liberal politics which the movie going audiences can’t stand. Even though I warned of all this years ago, and have written extensively about it since, it still hurts to see an entire industry collapsing on itself. The Hollywood product is now on life support with only a few big Disney releases carrying most of the industry. Warner Bros. has done well with Wonder Woman, and Marvel had their usual hits with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Small films like Baby Driver did respectable business, but big films like Pirates of the Caribbean 5 were down a quarter from the previous installment worldwide and that isn’t good news. Critics have been hard on these new movies as they have an extreme political slant to most reviews and once the Rotten Tomatoes scores hit online people are so turned off they just don’t go see these films and that cycle is worsening.
Hollywood is about more than just the movies themselves—it’s about an entire industry from print media like Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, to the television shows Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight. Critics for the big newspapers have national audiences in some cases and they have abused their relationships and let that stardom go to their heads giving themselves the power to sink or swim a picture—so essentially they have cut off their own noses to spite their faces. I remember a very specific day in Glendale, California where several day time television programs were set up on the same street to shoot exteriors and I was having lunch with some people who worked the trade publications who were full of themselves way too dangerously. I tried to make them aware of the fragile eco system that was on full display and they had the kind of attitude that the gravy train was going to go on forever. Well, within two years every one of those people was out of a job and their publications had folded. They should have listened, but of course they didn’t. Most of those big name trade publications won’t be around much longer because nobody really cares what they have to say. The media stars they talk about are today far more political than they used to be and they have aligned themselves against Trump who is set to be a very popular and successful president, and now there just aren’t enough fans of their material to carry them into the next decade.
There are going to be a lot of bankruptcies—and even the Disney Company will feel the squeeze. While I continue to be very impressed with what Disney is doing at their parks and with the Star Wars movies as one giant mythology spanning many platforms—computer games, etc—they still rely too much on theater owners to distribute their core products and those theater owners need more than just Disney to stay afloat. They need every weekend to have people wanting to go to the theaters to buy over-priced popcorn and soda to watch a movie they don’t want to wait for release on the home market where likely the televisions they have at home is far better than what is offered at the theater. I will have to add that when my wife and I went to see The Book of Henry that the Regal Cinemas we went to had adjusted their prices down for popcorn and pop to a very reasonable level. The theater owners out there are doing their jobs and adjusting to the marketplace, but Hollywood hasn’t. They keep making the same crap and trying to repackage it instead of turning loose people with great ideas to constantly keep material fresh. I know I wasn’t the only one trying to get new ideas to production companies—it was mainly a cultural problem. Studio execs were too interested in getting laid at the multiple parties around town by telling chicks that they were for this liberal cause or that—so they were making decisions at the executive level in producing products that American audiences did not want to see. Once they got their blow job they had already committed their studio to ten films for production the next year which nobody would want to see because of their overly liberalized political overtones. Sure the chick who was giving blow jobs at the party liked the Matt Damon movie about fracking—but nobody in America wanted to see it and the budget was blown.
So the industry is toast—it won’t recover in its present form. Of course there will be investment opportunities in new styles of media, but the Hollywood game is over. The industry just hasn’t come to terms with it yet. There are a few $1 billion dollar earners yet to be released in 2017 but it won’t be enough. By the end of the year the gains will be so far down that they won’t even be worth discussing. And life outside of Hollywood will go on. All I can say to those people who were so haughty 10 years ago is that I sincerely tried to tell you this would happen, but you didn’t listen. I wish you had. So now it’s time to pay—and it will be painful. But you people did it to yourselves. America will be great again and Hollywood has removed itself from being a part of it—and that’s a damn shame.
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