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December 18, 2007

Hollywood Starts to Crumble?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The LA Times reports that striking moviebiz writers are "are negotiating with venture capitalists to set up companies that would bypass the Hollywood studio system and reach consumers with video entertainment on the Web." Creative people are shaking off the middlemen and taking their products directly to the people, in other words. Bottleneck? What's a bottleneck?

But isn't this development almost exactly the kind of thing that Marc Andreessen predicted would be the result of a Hollywood strike? Marc elaborated here. Short version: The entertainment biz is likely to be reshaped in the image of Silicon Valley.



posted by Michael at December 18, 2007


Andreessen gets it, but the movie studios will actually be in far worse shape than he predicts if the strike is allowed to continue through the spring.

Sure, the studios have "stockpiled" scripts, but what he doesn't take into consideration is how many projects need polishing, doctoring or revising before certain stars are willing to commit. Angels and Demons was shut down due to concerns Tom Hanks had over the script. No writers were available to fix the problems. No movie.

This is an exciting time for artists. If the Coen Brothers were able to raise $20 million in venture capital for a film and distribute it on the Internet, who needs Harvey Weinstein any more? The longer the strike goes on, the more attractive this idea is going to become to more and more writers.

Posted by: Joe Valdez on December 18, 2007 7:01 PM

It's working for me, folks.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on December 18, 2007 7:45 PM

What isn't clear is whether the writers, once they have become entrepreneurs and started their own companies, can make money from content distributed via the internet. Andriessen may only be looking at part of the picture.

Blowhards: how much are you getting paid for your very nice blog? You don't have to answer that.

Posted by: jult52 on December 19, 2007 5:38 AM

Creative people and venture capitalists SHOULD get together and set up shop according to the model outlined in Norman Spinrad's book "Little Heros". The technology is now there to create "synthespians", negating the need for prima donna directors and diva actors.

Posted by: Brutus on December 19, 2007 8:02 AM

Joe -- I wonder what the Hollywood part of the showbiz business is going to look like in 5 or 10 years. Any hunches?

Charlton -- Me too. I've got my DVR browsing through cable offerings, I've got my favorite bookmarks, I've got you and other interesting people swapping tips and links with me ... Seems like we're already inhabiting the New Media World in many ways ...

Jult52 -- The bitter ironies do seem to proliferate, don't they? My guess is that the percentage of "creatives" who'll be able to make a living from their creative output will grow smaller even as possibilities for expression and mischief grow more open. Vastly more participants and participation; ever-shrinking numbers of those able to pay the bills from it. Just a hunch, of course. Any predictions?

Brutus -- So long as no one figures out how to synthesize me out of my job, I'm OK with it!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 19, 2007 10:44 AM

Michael: The future is definitely going to be downloading your culture over the Internet, probably for a subscription fee. On a particular weekend, I may want to watch Superbad, all the Todd and Lisa Loopner skits from "Saturday Night Live", footage of Evel Knievel jumping the Snake River, Linda Ronstadt performances from 1972-1975 and what Charles Barkley said on TNT's NBA postgame show last week.

Until Google or Yahoo or my cable company makes a service like this available, as easy to use as ITunes, and lets me watch all of this stuff on my TV, I won't be interested. But I think that within 10 years, we will all be there.

Now, if Prince or Radiohead can market their albums directly to their fans and distribute them over the Internet without a record company acting as a middleman and hoarding the profit, why can't filmmakers do the same thing? On the Internet, they will own their content. The studios won't own anything.

Posted by: Joe Valdez on December 19, 2007 3:09 PM

MvB writes: "Vastly more participants and participation; ever-shrinking numbers of those able to pay the bills from it."

I think that's a sound prediction and I agree with it.

JoeV: Those subscription fees are going to Comcast and Verizon and their peers. Not to software providers or content producers.

Posted by: jult52 on December 20, 2007 5:39 PM

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