Saturday, February 26, 2011

This business of film...

With Oscars ceremonies kicking off tomorrow (and before we get into the specifics of Oscar picks) I wanted to take a moment to share some information. According to The Economist, while the Oscars may signal some form of significance in Tinseltown, it may no longer have its pulse on what is keeping Hollywood alive. For that to be the case it would have to travel thousands of miles to the heart of countries like Russia, China and Brazil. "In the past decade," reads the article (linked above), "total box-office spending has risen by about one-third in North America while more than doubling elsewhere. Well isn't that odd, I thought to myself after reading the article, if that's the case, why the box-office in North America still drive so much of what we see?

It seems when it comes to movies, Hollywood is benefiting from a process that seems to have much in common with television syndication. The shows that you will see day-in, day-out on cable are not the hard hitting television that made headlines. Those shows simply fade into the background of the national historical tapestry. Look at Friends: though consistently nominated (likely due to its popularity) it only won 6 Emmy's in the 10 seasons that it ran. Even with the relatively small number of awards, it is said that at any given moment, somewhere in the world Friends is on television. Though it was never a show that pushed boundaries, it has been a very large cash cow for the companies involved in its production, whereas shows with higher critical acclaim but relatively fewer viewers are not so lucky.

And so the audience for whom the films are made begins to shift and studios begin to make changes to how they market their properties. Will this be a benefit to Hollywood as internationalization becomes the focus? So far, we're still getting the quality work that we've come to expect of filmmakers like the Coen brothers et all but for how much longer? It may be too early to tell, but in this climate I will be interested to see what relevance (if any) the Oscars manage to hold on to. Then again, you can't underestimate the weight within the industry that can be achieved by tradition. And besides, if all else fails we can always look forward to at least one good musical number...

What part of the Oscars are you looking forward to?


  1. I am excited to see Florence Welch sing the song from "127 Hours." Although, where had Dido been all these years? Too bad she's too pregnant to perform.