In a recent MSNBC.com article, ‘Sherlock’ sequel slips, but still tops box office, reporter David Germain writes that “Sherlock Holmes is facing his worst enemy: declining crowds at theaters as this year’s domestic movie attendance dips to the lowest in 16 years.”
This decline in audience is resulting in low box office numbers for the majority of Hollywood films as budgets continue to escalate and originality plummets. Reading between the lines, it is obvious: Hollywood is scared.
While several sources in the article point to marketplaces problems and the recession, all one needs to do is look at how much money Hollywood is pumping into Congress to get them to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—$91 Million or roughly the budget for Martin Scorsese’s film The Departed—to understand just what they are afraid of. They are afraid of the Internet and what it represents.
SOPA is focused on piracy because as one article suggests: Hollywood lost $6.1 billion in 2005 due to bootlegging and internet piracy (Piracy ‘costs US studios $6.1bn, BBC News). There is a great discussion on Quora about measuring the effects of piracy and it is worth a glance to see what the impact is. $6.1 billion is not a small number. If that is indeed a true measure of the effect of internet piracy and not an exaggerated number based upon greed and fear, then I can understand why Hollywood would want to fund SOPA.
However, I argue that the number one problem Hollywood is facing is not piracy, but originality. According to a moviefone.com blog post, 2011 set the all-time record for released sequels in a year: 27 (roughly one-fifth of world-wide releases)! Five of the Top 10 Box Office films are sequels, three of them are in the top three, and three join a franchise with at least four other films.
Much like the music industry losing the battle with the Internet in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it’s time for Hollywood to remake their industry. Not out of greed and fear, but out of a love for the craft and for cinematic experiences. There are actors and directors working today that have embraced the power of the internet. They are funding independent projects, using their clout for the benefit of the trade, and creating an internet experience which embraces the love and passion needed for the survival of cinema.
What’s really the problem? A dying system holding onto it’s last straw.
What’s the solution? Fund the ultimate remake: The re-imagining of an experience which continues to morph and evolve thanks to the marvels of modern-day technology.
It’s time for Hollywood to adapt or die.