Recognizing Changes & Trends in the Film Industry

Instructor: Rachel Matz

Rachel teaches acting and voice. She has an MFA in Acting and an MBA in Business Administration.

Delve into the landscape of the film industry and explore key concepts and trends. Learn about what filmmakers today need to consider as they embark upon making their movies.

Navigating the Film Industry: Trends and Changes

Suppose you are a filmmaker. Do you want to make blockbuster movies for major studios or independent films? Are you interested in a traditional length film or a longer form? Filmmakers today also need to consider how different areas are influencing the film industry, such as television versus movie theaters, streaming services, film piracy concerns, cinematographic changes, and micro cinema options. This lesson explores the trends and changes affecting the current landscape of the film industry.

Television versus Movie Theaters

A filmmaker should be aware that audiences now have more options for watching a movie at home instead of going to the theater. While the movie theater creates a feeling of community and a big screen experience, TV technology is surpassing movie theater technology in many ways. Many televisions now have the following technical capabilities:

  • 4K resolution
  • Higher frame rates
  • Extensive color space
  • Higher dynamic range
  • Better true black values

High Resolution Television
High Resolution Television

Since 2002, American audiences are going out to movie theaters less and less. Movie ticket prices are more expensive, and movie theaters predominantly offer blockbuster action movies and repetitive franchise movies, such as Fast & Furious 8 and Pirates of the Caribbean 5. Although the production of original movies seems to be decreasing, you might be surprised to hear that remakes and reboots aren't taking their place as box office hits. Instead, prequels, sequels, and spin-offs are increasing.

Thus, viewers, who want to watch different types of movies and programs, have the option to watch streaming video, video on demand, and satellite at home. However, the increasing diversity in the film industry is a box office draw for audiences. Women and African Americans are playing major roles in front of and behind the camera. For instance, we have:

  • Wonder Woman, with a female superhero as the main character
  • Female cinematographers, like Oscar-nominated Rachel Morrison, as well as African-American directors, such as Bradford Young, who filmed Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • Female directors, like Greta Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, and Ava DuVernay
  • The billion-dollar box office hit Blank Panther, featuring a talented African-American cast

Streaming Services

As a viewer, do you stream video on a portable electronic device? Do you use On Demand services with your cable or satellite provider? Video on Demand (VOD) services allow viewers to watch a large amount of programming digitally, whenever they want. While most cable and satellite providers offer VOD services, streaming or subscription video on demand (SVOD) has become huge competition for traditional TV VOD and films.

The internet streaming business has changed the face of the film industry with companies like Netflix and Amazon. These companies are producing and acquiring top-notch content for their streaming services, including films and series. Netflix alone is projected to spend $8 billion in 2018 for 80 features and 700 series.

The popularity of streaming video has also paved the way for series cinema, where people watch (and often, binge-watch) high-quality, multi-hour, streaming series, which have the cinematic quality of films but follow a longer form. With this longer format, viewers can immerse themselves in the experience and follow the character arcs. Series cinema is now competing with traditional theater movies.

Simultaneous Release

Another popular trend in film is the concept of simultaneous release, which allows a film to be released online and in theaters at the same time. An independent film with less box office draw might benefit from simultaneous release, because the film will have the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

However, a movie with a bigger box office draw, like a Star Wars movie, might not be well-served by this strategy. Hollywood studios show resistance to this concept, since they believe simultaneous release compromises box office returns, whereas Netflix has successfully employed this strategy with their content.

Film Piracy

The digital age made technology more accessible, which, in turn, brought the illegal activity of film piracy into the limelight. Film piracy occurs when a person copies a film by making a digital file, copying a DVD, or taking a camera into a theater and recording a movie. Then, that person either uploads the film for free or sells it illegally to a website or another source.

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