Hollywood Scrambles to Fix a Fading Link to Popular Culture ; Executives Plan Strategies to Offset Shift toward TV, Tablet and Phone Viewing

By Cieply, Michael | International Herald Tribune, October 31, 2012 | Go to article overview

Hollywood Scrambles to Fix a Fading Link to Popular Culture ; Executives Plan Strategies to Offset Shift toward TV, Tablet and Phone Viewing


Cieply, Michael, International Herald Tribune


After the shock of the decline last year in domestic movie ticket sales, Hollywood has landed in a pool of angst about movies and what appears to be their fraying connection to the pop culture.

CORRECTION APPENDED

On Feb. 24, Hollywood will turn out for the Oscars.

But it's starting to feel as if it might be "The Last Picture Show."

The Academy Awards ceremony next year -- the 85th since 1929 -- will be landing in a pool of angst about movies and what appears to be their fraying connection to pop culture.

After the shock of the decline last year in domestic movie ticket sales, to $1.28 billion, the lowest since 1995 (and attendance is only a little better this year) film business insiders have been quietly scrambling to fix what few will publicly acknowledge to be broken.

That is, Hollywood's grip on the popular imagination, particularly when it comes to the more sophisticated films around which the awards season turns.

Several industry groups, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, and the nonprofit American Film Institute, which supports cinema, are privately brainstorming about starting public campaigns to convince people that movies still matter.

That seemed self-evident only a few years ago. But the mood has turned wistful as people in the industry watch the momentum shift toward television. Even the movies' biggest night will feed that trend: The Academy has lined up Seth MacFarlane, a powerful television writer-producer, as the host of the Oscars.

"Shakespeare wrote his sonnets long after the sonnet form fell out of fashion," James Schamus, a screenwriter and producer who is also the chief executive of Focus Features, noted in an e-mail last week.

George Stevens Jr., the founder of the American Film Institute, said he would not descend "like Cassandra," with a lecture for members of the movie Academy, when he accepts his honorary Oscar at their Governors Awards banquet on Dec. 1.

"I think they will find their way, but it's a time of enormous change," Mr. Stevens said. He spoke by telephone last week of his concern that a steady push toward viewing on phones and tablets is shrinking the spirit of films. In the past, he said -- citing "A Man for All Seasons," "8," and "The Searchers" -- there was a grandeur to films that delivered long-form storytelling on very large screens.

But the prospect that a film will embed itself into the cultural and historical consciousness of the American public in the way of "Gone With the Wind" or the "Godfather" series seems greatly diminished in an era when content is consumed in thinner slices, and the films that play broadly often lack depth.

As the awards season unfolds, the movies are still getting smaller. After six weeks in theaters "The Master," a 70-millimeter character study much praised by critics, has been seen by about 1.9 million viewers. That is significantly smaller than the audience for a single hit episode of a cable show like "Mad Men" or "The Walking Dead."

"Argo," another Oscar contender, had about 7.6 million viewers through the weekend. If interest holds up, it may eventually match the one-night audience for an episode of "Glee."

The weakness in movies has multiple roots. Films, while in theaters, live behind a pay wall; television is free, once the monthly subscription is paid. And at least since "The Sopranos" sophisticated TV series have learned to hook viewers on long-term character development; movies do that mostly in fantasy franchises like the "Twilight" series.

And a collapse in home video revenue, caused partly by piracy, drove film salaries down. Television, meanwhile, raised its pay, and attracted movie stars like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Laura Linney, Claire Danes and Sigourney Weaver.

Ticket sales for genre films like "Taken 2" or Mr. MacFarlane's broad comedy, "Ted," remain strong. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hollywood Scrambles to Fix a Fading Link to Popular Culture ; Executives Plan Strategies to Offset Shift toward TV, Tablet and Phone Viewing
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.