The two legendary filmmakers, Spielberg and Lucas—who have collaborated in the past to make the Indiana Jones franchise—were speaking at the University of Southern California at the festivities for the official opening of the USC School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building. They weren’t overly encouraging to the new generation of filmmakers, however.
The two icons stated that we are currently in a period of upheaval and instability in the movie making business. Spielberg pointed out the creative limitations of the current product, due to unimaginative studio heads and escalating budgets. He adds that in these days of big-budget sequels and remakes, even established filmmakers and actor are having trouble getting interesting projects made.
Spielberg remarked that many new ideas are “are too fringe-y for the studios. That’s the big danger, and there’s eventually going to be an implosion, or a big meltdown. There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”
Lucas agreed with this sentiment, saying that he was sad to see ticket prices going up while movies are only being made for a niche audience of the public who just want to see products that are familiar, recognizable and comfortable. He praises cable TV for being much more imaginative and daring than the film industry. Spielberg added to this by saying that eventually, all the artful films like Lincoln or The Life of Pi will be relegated to cable television, since studios are becoming increasingly reluctant to fund those. Spielberg explained that, even with his great track record, he almost had to make Lincoln for HBO.
Lucas agreed, saying, “We’re talking Lincoln and Red Tails, and we barely got them into theaters. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas who can’t get their movie into a theater. The pathway into theaters is getting smaller and smaller all the time.”
They pointed out that there could come a time when movie theater admission is priced upon the budget of the film, in order to make up for the production costs. This will cause major price variances at movie theaters, where “You’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see something like Lincoln.”
The two film legends agreed that major changes were afoot, including filmmaking transforming into a Broadway play model, where fewer films are released each year, but they stay in theaters for a whole year and ticket prices shoot up much higher.