TeleVision Killed the Movie Star

The new world of TV is unbundled from time, removed from pipe and device agnostic. Our viewing habits have become more extreme, vacillating between the ultra-short, 20-second clip of a bee pulling nails from a wall, or the snatched 15 seconds of mannequin challenge, smashed uncomfortably against the 12-hour binge of Narcos or Black Mirror.” — The Future of TV Isn’t Apps

TV, VOD, games, user generated content (think YouTube Chewbacca clip) and even music reached new heights in terms of cultural impact last year; contrast this to the situation with most major Hollywood movies which ran the risk of ceasing to matter. The reason for the decline is not piracy, as that would signify that audiences are still prepared to invest their time to watch. The real reason is all the great television we now have access to. The movie industry needs to wake up and soon because the argument is rapidly shifting from convenience to product quality, long the bastion of Hollywood.

“Someday we may look at 2016 as the year the movies died,” wrote Boston Globe critic Ty Burr in an essay bemoaning a summer movie season filled with “pure product from an industry that has lost its ability to speak in any meaningful way to an audience.” — Movies Aren’t Dying, They’re Just Getting Smaller — Telluride Film Festival Critic’s Notebook
In 2016, movies are too often just a product-turned-talking-point — something to be added to the queue and watched after the argument winds down, or simply never watched at all. — Could This Be the Year Movies Stopped Mattering

2016 will go down as the year where the tide turned for the movie industry‘s blockbuster model. This year’s polarising mixture of catastrophic flops and ‘out of the park’ successes signals to me that Hollywood has less than 5 years left operating the way it does.

The blockbuster model is becoming increasingly risky and no amount of marketing, headline talent, or franchise building will guarantee success. We have spent time arguing our positions on this in other articles, but the basic point is global audiences have never been more distracted by the technologies they interact with daily and have never had so much access to so many original and awe inspiring entertainment choices on so many new platforms.

Mediocrity at the box office will no longer cut it. Movies that fail to resonate with the audience won’t make it into conversations going on in social media, a death of an investment decided immediately on the turn of the release weekend. Without chatter there is no chance to influence, and chatter comes from making something more special than the cocktail of a few stars, following a franchise storyline and cranking on the marketing lever.

What’s further diminished the power of movies in 2016 is the fact that while your local marquee was being programmed by de Sade, nearly every single other art form was experiencing a commercial and creative summit…
Not all of these shows earned huge ratings, but they certainly won the impossible to quantify — yet equally hard to deny — metrics of online chatter, where they spawned countless essays and arguments for weeks and months on end. — Could This Be the Year Movies Stopped Mattering

Piracy is the industry’s focus, and it could be said that a lot of the efforts in places like the UK are paying off. At a recent dinner with friends in the UK I heard several people mentioning that they were backing off using services like Pirate Bay due to the legal threat of being caught and receiving a warning letter from Offcom. However, in the same breath these same people were all talking about new shows on Netflix, Amazon, Sky, etc.

The TV show format of under an hour represents less of an entertainment risk than a 2 hour long movie that necessitates the hiring of a baby sitter, planning and ‘risk’ that the movie will not be worth these expenses.

We are in the ‘interim of things’. The rigours of today’s entertainment media technology challenges are succinctly described by Tom Goodwin:

We’re in the mid-digital age, we live with the legacy of analog systems, technology and thinking embellished by the new digital age. I’ve 5 remote controls to watch my TV, I now need to consider the input device before the show. My Chromescast is seemingly only controlled by my phone. We’ve global rights issues with most content, we’ve 4K codecs that don’t work on Vizio TV’s, we’ve apps missing from app stores. It’s agonisingly complex. — The Future of TV Isn’t Apps

How many of you also experience Tom’s agony? What will be the impact on our viewing habits once these issues are resolved and the friction to finding, watching and enjoying great entertainment experiences is streamlined to a search bar with customised suggestions?

My thoughts are that what’s to come will not bear good news for Hollywood’s current economic model.


If you would like to hear more on the matter, follow me on Medium to receive news of the publication of our upcoming e-book, Winning Your Audiences. Movie Marketing in the Connected World.

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Gruvi is a fast growing social technology company that is helping global entertainment brands tackle the rising challenges and opportunities of online, social and mobile marketing. We do this by providing campaign management systems that scale internationally while promoting and tracking the sales of their content whether that be sell through or cinema tickets.

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