During this panel Spielberg and Lucas expounded on the current state of the film and video game industry. Here's a horrible iPhone pic of the panel - you might be able to see Spielberg in the middle and Lucas on the right:
|Spielberg (middle) & Lucas (right)|
What I found most amusing from this discussion was the obvious competitiveness between Spielberg and Lucas. At one point, Spielberg jabbed Lucas by saying people went to the theaters to see Lincoln - a film that almost didn't get a theatrical (Spielberg jested, it's true, ask HBO) - implying Lucas's recent independent fare wasn't doing as well. Lucas responded that he doesn't need to worry about box office performance as he's retired from that system. I think we all wish we had millions (prob billions) in our bank account and could bankroll our own films and retire from this system. Lotto anyone? Trust me, I play it (when I remember to).
It's absolutely maddening to try to figure out how to make successful films in today's Wild West of distribution options.
I think the scariest part of their predictions was the idea that movie theaters would become homes for only big blockbuster movies that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and demand $50 to $100 price tags to view them. And that all other kinds of films - our charming dramas and funny comedies and scary thrillers and horror flicks - would all be relegated to the digital world. Lucas believes this is the future for film and that everyone will have such amazing home theater systems that going to the movies will be like attending live theater.
How awful does that sound? The entire room and panel heaved a heavy sigh. I would hate not having affordable theaters where I can go into a huge space with lots of people and be riveted for 2 hours and get lost in story. And I love seeing all kinds of films on the big screen - not just the big popcorn movies. In fact, I find dramas incredibly moving on the big screen. I remember seeing Good Will Hunting on the big screen and walking out of the theater with such inspiration for my own future as a filmmaker.
Interestingly enough, Spielberg and Lucas both agreed that studios are only focusing on tentpole films now and that audiences are going to eventually tire of them. And when they do, the studios will be in crisis mode because they will have forgotten how to make the dramas and comedies and thrillers etc. That is when they believe the implosion will happen.
All this "sky is falling" talk sure was discouraging but it also told me that it's a great time for independent filmmakers - a sentiment the panel stressed. We're already used to not getting our films in the theater and having to scrap our way into existence. We have and continue to develop the tools for surviving and hopefully thriving in the digital space. Hopefully this means we have a chance at being competitive with the Spielberg and Lucas product in the digital realm. And thank God for film festivals - the indie version of a theatrical. Let's embrace our film festivals and use them as our theatricals and market the hell out of our films, using all the tools we can find - crowdsourcing, social media, etc etc.