Editorial: The Internet Is Not Killing Film*

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, hi. The editorials definitely seem to be on a set trend at the moment, mostly concerning film and gaming. If you have any suggestions for other things we should look at, stick them in the comments, send us a tweet @abortretryflail or visit our excellent facebook page. All contribution is amazing and we always want more of it. With that out of the way, onwards to the grumbling!

*Most of it, anyway. The big screen isn’t really in any danger. If it was, budgets would get cut as would release schedules. The pirating of films may harm profits somewhat, but it isn’t necessarily true that the companies would receive those profits anyway. What we’re seeing, rather than a reduction in funds, is a reduction in risk. Budgets are bigger, if anything, in the last few years, but the quality of the films is not necessarily any better. Sequels, prequels and reboots are the order of the day, because the titles and the faces guarantee a certain number of ticket sales; The Expendables is a franchise entirely built around this premise. You can read a full editorial on this subject by clicking here: Cinema is Killing Film

Yes, ticket prices are increasing across the board, and almost everything is filmed or at least show in 3-D for that extra little cash hit. Obviously this must be a reaction to some kind of profit problem in Hollywood, that seems to be a perfectly reasonable conclusion. Presumably the pirates are therefore responsible. But it isn’t right and they aren’t. Budget is. Films (and it’s the same for games) are more and more expensive to make, it seems, and at some point the studios are going to start demanding a rise in ticket prices to cover their inflated costs. When your film cost $250 million to make, you need some kind of assurance that it’ll make that back with profit on top. Ticket sales are one of the only ways to make that profit, and the higher the cost the higher the ticket price needs to be.

Unfortunately, this ties back in to an unwillingness to take a risk. The profit factor is killing Film, not a few pirates on the internet. Of course, some risks are taken. Nobody could possibly have come to the conclusion that the first Iron Man film would be quite so successful as it was, and it has lead to a huge array of movies based on the Marvel comic-book universe, but after that first film none of the sequels have been at all risky. The Avengers cost $220 million to make and took in $1.5 billion. Even the third Iron Man film cost around the same and achieved over $1 billion in sales. I dearly love the films in this series, and look forward to the next few years of Marvel cinema, but there only reason there is another 6 or 10 years of it is because of the obsessive need to churn out sequels and keep the money rolling. The DC film producers are attempting the same thing, purely because Marvel made a ton of money. There’s no way we’d of had another Super Man film, yet another Batman offering, and a new (and frankly unwarranted) Spider Man reboot if Marvel hadn’t managed to make what they did. These films aren’t risks at the moment. “Nerd culture” (I hate that phrase) is ‘in’ right now, and the film industry is incredibly quick to pounce when money can be made. The first film might be a risk, but advertise the hell out of it, stick some ‘big’ names in it and bring in a star producer and you’re golden. If not, release it on one of your “independent” labels and market it to the alternative crowd or as a historical account and you’ll probably be fine.

The internet is not killing film, film practice is killing film. This is why truly independent films or foreign language (Considered to be anything that isn’t English) films struggle for either funding or releases. Plot-heavy interesting things must be either historical dramas or romances. There is no scope, no allowance for something that can’t be used to spawn sequels or a new brand. Yes, piracy is something of a problem, but stop using it as a defence of your own practices, because we can see how successful they are.  This is perhaps the only thing the internet has started to affect. Can’t take a risk, won’t make money.

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