January 5, 2009
As last Friday’s LA Times pointed out, even Hollywood – the emblem of glamour and excess – cannot avoid the economic slump. It is expected that more layoffs will follow recent job cutbacks across all media, from networks to studios to smaller independent outfits. Not to mention, fewer and fewer films are being made. That, coupled with ongoing speculation that “new media” will triumphantly overtake traditional modes means one of America’s (and the world’s) best-loved and influential industries is headed for fundamental change.
Jeff Silver, producer of “300” and the forthcoming (hopefully final) “Terminator” starring Christian Bale, suggested that less filmmaking might put more of a premium on creativity. As he put it, “Right now, there’s a lack of ideas in Hollywood. People are recycling ideas not reinventing them.”
Does that mean the pending industry reformation might return film to the 30s and 40s classicism known as the Golden Age of Hollywood? Then, the financial success of The Jazz Singer enabled Warner Bros. to buy up movie theaters. Or, will audiences get to once again enjoy the irreverent non-conformism of the New Hollywood movie brats like Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola and Lucas who elevated commercialism to auteurism?
Dreamy as it sounds for us cinephiles, the reality is harsher. The once plush Wall Street well that pumped hundreds of millions from hedge funds into creative independent filmmaking has run dry. And a looming actor’s strike, which “House M.D.” writer/producer Eli Attie said is “stupid” to implement during a recession, may prove even more disastrous to an industry still desperately recovering losses from last year’s writer’s strike. All things considered, studio execs and movie stars, though aggravated by the drama, will still be sitting pretty when it’s mostly unemployed or under-working actors calling out for help.