Posts Tagged ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’

“You don’t learn how to write a screenplay by just reading screenplays and watching movies. It’s about developing the kind of mind that sees and makes drama. You can do this in a kind of holistic way by reading history and theology and psychology, reading great fiction and poetry, and plays. You develop an eye for the structures of everything and look for the patterns that help you become a dramatist.”
Robin Swicord
Oscar-nominated screenwriter, The Curious Case of  Benjamin Button
The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters, Karl Iglesias
page 134

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The truth is there won’t be any government bailouts any time soon for Hollywood. They don’t really need one.

If the box office numbers continue at the same pace they’ve  been the first two months of the year then it will be Hollywood’s biggest growth in 20 years. Movies like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Taken, Slumdog Millionaire, Marley & MeGran Torino and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button all passed the $100 million mark at some time in the first two months of 2009. 

According to Box Office Mojo January and February of 2009 have been the biggest months ever box office-wise for any January or February. Just as in the Great Depression people retreat to the movies in hard times. And just for an added emphasis in February,  The Dark Knight passed the billion dollar mark just before the Academy Awards. (That kind of makes up for not being nominated for best picture.)

Of course, it must be noted that the box office numbers are also due to the increase costs of a movie ticket. At least for the time being if people are going to forgo a trip to Vegas, Florida or Europe they are willing to pay $8-10 to see a movie. 

But playing off my last post, almost every single minute of all those money-making recent films that passed the $100 million mark this year were made outside of L.A. 

They were mostly made in New Jersey, France, India, Detroit, Miami or New Orleans. (And, just for the record, The Dark Knight, was filmed in Chicago.)

So the outsourcing of L.A. production jobs due to runaway production is one way Hollywood is becoming like Detroit. And just as new car sales are down, so too are DVD sales. Way down. As in the billions.

DVD sales were down two and a half billion from 2007 compared to 2006. Blu-Ray may have won the battle over HD-DVD but it hasn’t won the hearts of the people. Perhaps people are content with their DVDs. I know I am. Blu-Ray may have higher resolution but they won’t play on my laptop which is how I like to listen to the director’s commentaries on the $5 DVDs I’ve been buying.

A lot of people don’t want to shell out for another player and pay $25. for the Blu-Ray movies. The economy is part of the problem, but so is technology since digital downloads appear to be the next big thing. Why not ride that shift out and save a few bucks? And even psychologically when you have a stash of your favorite movies on  DVDs that you’ve collected over the years it makes it hard to justify the next obsolete shift.

When all is said and done there may not be the big three automakers any more and there may not be as much big Hollywood dollars flowing in the streets of Los Angeles. But there will still be cars and movies. They will just be originating from places beyond Detroit and L.A. 

As far as movies go, the downturn in the economy mixed with the rise in digital technology are empowering creative people outside L.A. and that’s one more reason why people are Screenwriting from Iowa…or wherever you live outside L.A. (Note that the number one movie this weekend was written and made in a studio in Atlanta.)

And that’s why $86 million is being spent to convert a former Metro Detroit auto plant into a movie studio. (With the hope that 4,000 jobs will follow.)

The real question; Is Detroit the new Hollywood?

Related post: Screenwriting from Michigan


copyright 2009 Scott W. Smith

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