Edictive Film Production and filmmaking

Reality TV aside, the television has been shaking off its old reputation as a place for mindless entertainment. Now the movie theaters are the places to see shoot-‘em-up action and comic-book stories, while the small screen has been housing more mature character-driven programs: entertainment for adults. This is especially true on many cable channels, where such programs as Mad Men, The Wire and The Sopranos have drawn critical acclaim.

This change reflects economic trends in Hollywood. HBO, for example, used to be known just as a place where viewers could see movies at home without commercials. With the advent of video stores and then the Internet and Netflix, cable channels such as HBO have needed other ways to draw viewers and get them to keep renewing their subscriptions. Since the 1990s, HBO has been putting more money and resources into its original programming.

Free from the constraints of ratings boards, cable TV has a distinct advantage over the networks: it can be edgy and raunchy (think Sex and the City on HBO), and can take more risks. The results, in many cases, have been a new crop of quality programs, at least for people who can pay for them.

Hollywood, meanwhile, has increasingly needed to make films that bring in the teens and tweens who will spend their allowances at the concession stands. Hence the special effects, the violence, and the movie plotlines that are more about the CGI than the characters. And the endless parade of sequels and of course, such big films will only lead to an endless parade of bigger sequels. Originality means taking financial risks that studios are increasingly leery of.

Unlike most cable networks, studios also need to think about the viewers who don’t speak English. Hollywood releases are earning their revenue abroad more and more these days. A movie that relies on action rather than dialogue may play better in a market where it needs to be dubbed.

Hollywood is also working harder at the annual Academy Awards to increase its global audience, aware that the Oscars ceremony is really a profitable advertisement for the movies. In 2010, Hollywood took a big step in hopes of increasing its audience: it doubled the number of Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10. One of the nominees, James Cameron’s Avatar, boasted box-office success and plenty of visual effects.

Even as movie theaters struggle and studio executives fret about losing viewers to new technology, Hollywood retains one lasting gold mine: its library of rights to all the films and TV shows it has produced. It is estimated that Time Warner alone has more than 45,000 hours of films, TV shows and cartoons that it licenses to TV and other broadcasters in more than 100 countries.

Libraries also bring in revenue from DVD rentals and sales. With those sources of income waning, many executives are pinning future hopes on digital rights for delivery on the Internet.