Earlier this month, at a symposium at the University of Southern California film school, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted the collapse of most megabudget movies, and with it the end of Hollywood as it now exists.
What Spielberg and Lucas are really saying is, “Nobody wants our movies anymore.” They’re being credited with foresight for simply noticing that they’re no longer wanted.
The focus on technology as the answer is misguided and embarassing. I’ve fiddled around with Oculus Rift. It’s neat, but it’s not a solution to a problem any more than 3D is. Or surround sound. Or IMAX. Or videos that pause when you look away. It’s a baby step at best. New features are rarely game changers.
Sleep No More is a solution to the problem. I’ve logged 12 hours in that world. It’s good art. It’s challenging and visceral and human and immersive in a way Oculus Rift will never be. It’s entertainment for grownups. It charges what it’s worth and it’s wildly popular.
Sopranos was a solution to the problem. Louie is a solution to the problem. The Paul F. Tompkast is a solution to the problem. Radiolab is a solution to the problem. The best video games, and not just the ones on your TV screen, are solutions to the problem.
Spielberg and Lucas are predicting the future when it’s already here. It’s not bold to predict that the megabudget movie industry will die. The interesting part is that, just as is the case with Spielberg and Lucas projects right now, nobody will care or really even notice when it happens. Our attention will be elsewhere. It already is.
I believe what Eric Mortensen says above is spot on. I watched World War Z last week and I thought it was a fun and fresh movie. I found myself wanting to dive in more into the storyworld. “India is a blackhole?” Really? Show it to me or even let me read about it cause I really want to know more about it.
You (the producers) just spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars into hooking me into your world but all you can give me is 2 hours of linear entertainment? Is that really the best use of resources?
A movie by itself can’t expand past that. It can’t feed the beast of the hooked consumer. It never could and before the extensions of TV, Web Video, Social Media, Gaming and the Internet, it never needed to.
I spent hours at a hackathon this weekend walking a room full of developers through not just storytelling, but world building and world extending. There is using tech to experience film and tv but there is also using tech to shape how we can experience stories that extend beyond film or tv.
When you’ve hooked an audience into the top level (no easy feat), you can then give them multi layers of world extension. This is what I believe the next generation (or even this generation) of storytelling will become. You want to know more? It’s out there, go find it. If you don’t, well you have a good top level story so enjoy it.
Oh and Sleep No More is one of the greatest immersive stories that I’ve ever experienced. If you’re in or are going to NYC, I consider it a MUST SEE, and I can’t wait to experience it again.