A Review of the Film Industry

As Printed in The Lumberjack on Oct. 14, 2010

by Gary Sundt

I didn’t review any of the releases at Harkins Flagstaff 11 this week. I didn’t want to see Katherine Heigl play the same character again. I didn’t really feel like seeing Seabiscuit 2: Electric Boogaloo. And I didn’t want to see Wes Craven continue to slash his legacy into the grave.

The poster for Life As We Know It, a movie I didn't see. (Photo courtesy of hollywoodtrailers.net)

Now, before you go thinking I was being lazy, and deem this a cop-out article, I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. Moviegoers seem to agree, as the top film at the box office was The Social Network (my vote thus far for best film of the year) for the second week in a row, but it only made $15 million. That’s not really a difficult number to beat at the weekly box office.

The fact is that all of the major movies released this past weekend were entirely uninteresting, and not especially worth my money or my time.

If you happened to read my review of Resident Evil: Afterlife (which, judging by the impressive yet vitriolic reader response, you may have), you remember that I’ve complained about this before, but the truth is the troubles are worse than bad filmmaking and a flattening global marketplace. The film market is saturated, and too much money is being spent on too many projects that nobody wants to see.

I’ve written before that there are a multitude of fine films being produced these days, but the counter to the good is that a) there is far more of the bad, and b) the sheer amount of bad means that the interesting and original films are less seen. Sure, if you have an incredible marketing campaign like Inception or Toy Story 3, people are going to show up. But small films that don’t have a big marketing push (like The Kids Are Alright or Cyrus), and even the big budget-but-little seen pictures that dont have an inherent audience (like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World or The Other Guys), are being skipped in favor of the latest Twilight flick. Do people want too see dumb movies? Do they want entertainment to just happen to them? After years of writing these movie reviews, I’d like to think not.

But this is far more than just a cry for the underdog (even though a little bit less CGI and a little more narrative substance never hurt anybody). No, instead think of this is a “cry for less films” column.

Yes, the movie critic said it — I want fewer movies. There is a theory that more competition will yield more profit for an industry, but there is also the reality of oversaturation of a marketplace. Oversaturation of a necessary good can allow for a feeling of “survival of the fittest” in an industry. But what happens when oversaturation happens to an unnecessary good, like movies?

There is a popular theory in the film business known as “The Long Tail,” where so many small movies are released that they will collectively make more profit than the major Hollywood releases. There is another theory known as “overchoice,” wherein consumers are overwhelmed by the number of products available and end up walking away without buying anything at all. In a world where we can pirate movies for free online, where cable can offer us more than an overpriced trip to the latest Saw, what do you think will really happen?

Think of this week’s review as one on the current state of the film industry, and it isn’t a positive one. Too many movies are coming out, and until Hollywood slows it down, the best films will be ignored. I believe this will ultimately lead to a major degradation of the quality of films, and will ultimately alienate consumers.

Or maybe this was just a cop-out column, because I was having a lazy week. Either way, have a good weekend at the movies.

Star Rating: Who cares? Nothing good came out.


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