What Comic-Con Tells us About the Demise of the Commerical Film Industry

If you’re like me then you spent your weekend planning a business rollout while polishing up some spec scripts and casually monitoring the events that were unfolding at Comic-Con.  Chances are that you were not doing the first two on that list, but you may have been doing the third.  Comic-Con has become this sort of geeks meets stars meets Hollywood exoskeleton that most people are kind of afraid to touch because they don’t know what’s really in there.  One person said on Twitter that: “if you were to throw it all in a dumpster and line it with velvet rope there would be a line forming around it to jump inside.”  Exactly random Tweeter, exactly.  Comic-Con is the Hollywood edition of the Washington Correspondents Dinner.  It’s a place you can go for jokes and pictures with people you see on TV, but it serves few other functions.  Sure, if you’re a big fan of The Hobbit and you wanted to see the newest trailer for that franchise that thankfully is coming to an end you could see it there or you could wait like the rest of us and watch it on your lunch break when the news industry calls Comic-Con a complete success filled with rainbows and unicorns.

For the independent film community, Comic-Con should represent an opportunity to engage with fans in a face-to-face way that can build buzz around an idea.  That’s why they started the thing at least.  Over the years it’s become commercialized and the studios have taken it over, but you’ve got to think that there’s still some resale value there.  If you monitored the weekends events then you probably picked up on a couple things: first, nobody seemed to really know who Michael Mann was and man, there were a lot of unneeded guest appearances by Hollywood A-listers who looked like they had set foot in Mordor for the first time.  Why bother announcing who’s coming next time around?  Why not just surprise everybody?  The answer is that Hollywood is much more business right now than it’s ever been in the past and what’s truly frightening is that their business model isn’t aimed at us Americans it’s aimed at overseas markets.  For whatever reason (it could be math for all I know) most studios are banking on emerging markets bailing them out of some really terrible film ideas.  I don’t think I saw a single original concept for a film at this entire convention.  That’s a problem.  Combine that with everyone’s shock and awe over “Lucy” being the top film at the box office and you have an industry that makes about as much sense as a Charlie Kaufman script (oh, now I’ve alienated the indies, look out.)

My point isn’t that the industry should be marketing towards people like me who’ve lost confidence in the industry, but that they should at least pretend like what they’re doing matters.  Hollywood isn’t producing art anymore, but they masquerade as though they’re not producing shit.  They are producing shit and they’re producing it in droves.  Not a single executive had a worthwhile explanation as to how a film made by a French director with a female lead beat a movie that was rebooted for the millionth time with a highly recognizable star in the Rock.  I had people say: “oh, well Scarlett Johansson has a bigger following than we expected” and “well, this is just one of those short term blips on the radar.”  What I haven’t heard people say is the plain and honest truth: “we were wrong.”  That’s all I want to hear.  Your target demos for your film releases this summer were way off base, as in not even close.  Summer should be the time when Disney/Pixar is releasing a million kids movies to bank on the fact that kids aren’t in school or playing to the teen coming of age audience that they’ve neglected for the last twenty years.  They shouldn’t be releasing a film with The Rock as Hercules and act surprised when it gets blown out of the water by a film that had all the right moves at just the right time.  “Lucy” brought in over forty million dollars this weekend.  Those are James Bond opening weekend numbers.  Someone should be congratulating Luc Besson for putting together a film that actually roused the American public from their dystopic visions of a Hollywood that forgot about them and asking him where they can find more films with female leads to duplicate this success.  Hollywood has proven however that they cannot adapt to a changing business model and even if they could, they have no interest in making movies that matter anymore; just movies that generate enough buzz to enhance their Twitter feed for a few days.

On a lighter note, we launched our alternative to the Hollywood juggernaut today.  To quote “Q” from the James Bond films in my second ode to the film franchise that will be releasing a new film next year (yay!) this I’m particularly proud of: our Pinterest pageOur website is now fully up and functional.  You can follow us on Twitter at: @LHProdCo you can find us on Facebook and make a contribution to our cause as well.  Please feel free to check it out and let us know what you think.

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