The Dilution of the Film Industry

By: Miriam Fry

When a movie idea is pitched to a studio executive, one thought is running through her mind: “Will this movie make money?” And while yes, making money is important, is it the most important part of the industry? To what lengths do we go to make money? What do we sacrifice?

In a recent GQ article written by Mark Harris titled “The Day the Movies Died,” Harris detailed the negative implications of focusing too much on marketing/PR and making money. He said instead of making a great movie, directors are focused on the bottom line. Today’s studio executives have decided that making a drama is too risky and that filmmakers and others involved should instead go with their best bet to make money. That, of course, is to make a movie based on something that is already a brand.

“Everyone has cut back on not just ‘Oscar-worthy’ movies, but on dramas, period,” said Jan Dinks, the producer of Milk and American Beauty. “Caution has made them pull away. It’s infected the entire business.”

Harris pointed out that movies in the works for 2011 include a long list of sequels (conveniently, they already have a brand) and four adaptations of comic books, which also already have a brand! June 10 is the set release date of Fast Five, the fifth movie in the series of The Fast and the Furious.

You’ll see a trend here, and it does not stop. There is nothing in the line-up that is intriguing and different like Inception was in 2010, Harris argues.

What does this say about the film industry? Producers and studio executives are not willing to take a risk with a movie idea, for fear that it will need an original marketing plan or that the movie/plan might fail. Most movies today are being made from a marketing and PR standpoint instead of a film standpoint.

Harris also said that one demographic dominates the Hollywood marketing strategy, the “ADD-addled, short-term-memory-lacking, easily excitable testosterone junkie.” Categories left out of the mix are women and those born before 1985. According to Harris, women are not worth taking the time to figure out, and if you were born before 1985 you are old because you have developed taste. A taste that is obviously not for sequels or remakes.

What does this say about PR? Luckily for us, that it’s important. Perhaps the most important factor aside from the profit made. The PR person has an influential voice at the table and a distinguishing role in the whole process of movie production. Too often people think that PR practitioners are only good for party planning and tweeting. As we see in the movie industry, we’re good for much more than that. And a movie pitch does not get the green light until producers know that it can be marketed positively.

Although it’s comforting that PR is important, today what we’re seeing is an over-reliance on PR and marketing that dictates what kind of movies are made: bad ones. Movie makers are sacrificing content just to make money. They are producing the “safest bet” in terms of money and results at the box office, while leaving us with mediocre entertainment that we’ll most likely waste our money and time on… ultimately diluting the film industry.

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2 Comments

Filed under The Industry, Trends

2 responses to “The Dilution of the Film Industry

  1. Dorothy Griffith

    I think this is a very interesting idea to think about, not only in regards to movies and entertainment, but in examining our professional lives as well. The field of public relations is fast paced and exciting, and it can often be tempting to make decisions that will be convenient or will make a large amount of money, while disregarding the most qualified or educated choices. As PR practitioners we must look past what may be the “safest bet” for turning a profit, and focus on what is ethical and effective so that we will not dilute our industry as well.

    • Miriam Fry

      Dorothy,

      Thanks for your comment! Bringing up the dilution of the pr industry is a great point… we’ve just got to be aware.

      Miriam Fry
      Student Editor for Platform Online Magazine

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