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This raindrop moment, and the countless similar incidents that I’ve observed on sets or heard about from people I’ve met in the industry, may seem harmless and ridiculous enough on its face.But it reinforces an eventuality that seems both increasingly obvious and uncomfortable—one that might occur to you every time you stream In the mid-90s, the first time I downloaded an MP3, I realized that the music industry was in grave trouble.
Dream Works Animation was sold to Comcast for a relatively meager $3.8 billion.Subsequently, newspaper advertising revenues fell from $67 billion in 2000 to $19.9 billion in 2014.Meanwhile, the same pummeling occurred in the book-publishing world.Its audiences increasingly prefer on-demand content, its labor is costly, and margins are shrinking.Yet when I ask people in Hollywood if they fear such a fate, their response is generally one of defiance.And consumers never had to leave home to get the book they wanted. While print sales have finally leveled out (largely through a reliance on science fiction and fantasy), the industry has seen sales fall precipitously over the past decade.
Hollywood, these days, seems remarkably poised for a similar disruption.
(Disney, partly owing to and its other successful franchises, is likely to be a notable outlier.)Show business, in many ways, has entered a vicious cycle set off by larger economic forces.
Some 70 percent of box office comes from abroad, which means that studios must traffic in the sort of blow-’em-up action films and comic-book thrillers that translate easily enough to Mandarin.
Or in reboots and sequels that rely on existing intellectual property. Chinese firms, including Dalian Wanda, are rabidly acquiring companies such as Legendary Entertainment, AMC, and Carmike Cinemas, a smaller theater chain, with an apparent goal of learning how Hollywood does what it does so China can do it better. Hollywood, in its over-reliance on franchises, has ceded the vast majority of the more stimulating content to premium networks and over-the-top services such as HBO and Showtime, and, increasingly, digital-native platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.
As , which was produced by Mark Burnett, cost $100 million and yet grossed only $11 million in its opening weekend. These companies also have access to analytics tools that Hollywood could never fathom, and an allergy to its inefficiency.
As they stood there chatting, the screenwriter noticed that a tiny droplet of rain remained on the actor’s shoulder. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an employee from the production’s wardrobe department rushed over to berate him. But he had also worked in Hollywood long enough to understand what she was really saying: quite literally, wiping rain off an actor’s wardrobe was her job—a job that was well paid and protected by a union.