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Is Hollywood in Crisis Mode?

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 9/2/2011

Think that Hollywood is recession-proof? It's not. Recent events have severely hurt the Hollywood film production, and these events may be changing the industry in dramatic ways. Hollywood is becoming less adventurous.

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    Hollywood and the Great Depression

    If you think that the economy is not affecting your favorite movie stars, think again. The economy has been hitting every industry hard, including the film industry. For example, Disney is not quite as ready to fork up Nicholas Cage's usually fee as they had for the first two installments of National Treasure. The economy is affecting Hollywood film production in so many ways, including which movies are being made.

    Hollywood is cutting back. Screenwriters generally get about $500,000 for their work, but this fee is now around $300,000. Hollywood has seen these types of economic woes before. Back during the stock market crash of 1929 and the recession that followed it, the number of moviegoers dropped, and their intakes fell dramatically.

    Hollywood, and many of the people that make their money off of it, often assume that the film industry is recession-proof. But, recent events have come to show that Americans are cutting back on their spending and cutting out the movies.

    Back during the depression, movie prices were cut. Double features were offered, and the number of promotions and incentives rose. Hollywood has been studying these tactics to see if they'll fit into modern practices. But, there's still more to do. While actors such as Will Smith are still drawing their usual salaries, the tickets will still remain high.

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    Rise of Escapism Film and Indies

    Another sign that Hollywood is searching for help from those past practices is the type of movies being produced. Fantasy films became all the rage during the Depression because people were trying to escape their reality. With films like Prince Caspian and Inkheart as recent faire, it seems that Hollywood is once again relying on that escapism. The other film type that made the rounds during this time were the films that focused on the reality of life during the Depression. We'll just have to see whether the studios take this path as well.

    Many people have speculated that during this economic crisis independent or lower-budget films may begin to come to the forefront. These films are cheaper to make, averaging less than $20 million as opposed to starting at $100 million as most Hollywood blockbusters do. Since these films either don't have major stars or those stars agree to take a pay cut, they usually cost theaters less to lease the films. This could dramatically lower ticket prices.

    Another thing that the independent films have over the big blockbusters is that they're usually better made. The bigger films have to attract a wider, worldwide audience so they tend to be simple of plot and have a lot of action. Independent films don't need to worry about drawing in the large crowds so they focus more on plot and characters.

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    The Less Riskier, The Better

    Hollywood has also lost interest in taking chances. It's not looking for the next small film that will take off to be a runaway hit like the Blair Witch Project. Instead, they are sticking with blockbuster stories or remaking older films, ones which probably should have been left alone.

    Plus, they've decided that 3D everything is the way to go. The problem with this is that movies are now saturated with 3D. What used to be a novelty item is now the main push of most movies. It's become so pervasive that many movie studios don't even advertise that the film is 3D on the poster. They just make the assumption that you know. Besides over-saturation, the other problem with 3D is that these movies are more expensive than the standard flick, driving away anyone on a tight budget.

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    The Future of Film

    The economy is affecting Hollywood film production, but Hollywood is still unsure what to do about it. This economic recession is causing the Hollywood studios to cut back. But, Hollywood studios have been in trouble for a while now. As ticket prices have soared, the number or people heading to the theaters have dropped. The economy has only accelerated this process.

    Hollywood needs to start trying to attract people back to the theaters and maybe lower ticket prices for more quality movies is the way to do this. They should also consider making more quality movies as opposed to simply rehashing old, tried-and-true story lines. Moviegoers aren't going to keep paying higher and higher ticket prices for films that look exactly like the previous ones, and 3D is no longer seen as a way to keep the ticket payers happy.

    What used to be a nice escape for families has become an expensive night out, and it's usually a rerun of some past movie. People want something more, and that doesn't mean an increase in the cost of popcorn.