MG Siegler, commenting on Roger Ebert:
As Ebert lays out, the actual problem is with the distribution model. That is, most movie theaters in the U.S. are set up to play only the big ticket items — and again, a good percentage of that is crap. Massive films like Avatar and The Dark Knight disguise this — but only temporarily. This year there wasn’t a film of that magnitude, so we’re seeing it.
It’s true – most of the stuff out there is crap, but what will be fascinating over the next 50 years is how the business model shifts as most entertainment media becomes more and more democratized. We no longer depend on big-name critics to decide what movies are good, instead the community does on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic. We just won’t spend $30-$40 on a date night to see a bad movie.
However, movie theaters do offer a stronger value proposition than mediums like radio and cable television because of the experience of seeing something on a giant screen, so the change will be slower.
What I hope for, however, is not a shift in the distribution model to smaller theaters as MG suggests, but instead is an industry with lower budgets but more focused on telling great stories. I remember when Jurassic Park 2 came out, my cousin said to me, “it’s like they spent so long on the special effects that they forgot to tell a story.”
The film industry believes movies succeed because of big name (and big dollar) actors, special effects, and comedy. The real reason why movies succeed: great stories. The best movies I’ve ever seen, like The Shawshank Redemption, didn’t depend on any crutches, it was just a damn good story.
Lower budgets would force directors to use fewer crutches like special effects and focus on doing one thing great.