Everyone from Steven Soderbergh to Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have been remarking on the current state of Hollywood, with more or less everybody agreeing that things are... ah... less than ideal. Just as a reminder, that Soderbergh thing is seriously fantastic—and the Spielberg 'n' Lucas chat is interesting too, if only to hear two of Hollywood's most powerful creators discussing how powerless they currently feel:
Lucas and Spielberg told USC students that they are learning about the industry at an extraordinary time of upheaval, where even proven talents find it difficult to get movies into theaters. Some ideas from young filmmakers "are too fringe-y for the movies," Spielberg said. "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 megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm."
Lucas lamented the high cost of marketing movies and the urge to make them for the masses while ignoring niche audiences. He called cable television "much more adventurous" than film nowadays. (Via.)
There might be fixes for the problems currently troubling Hollywood, but—if you ask me, WHICH NO ONE EVER DOES—they're probably kind of maybe related to diversifying the kind of films being made (and the filmmakers being hired), going back to making an occasional movie that doesn't need to literally make ONE BILLION DOLLARS to be considered a "success," and also making more action-comedies about me and my talking dog and how we go on space adventures! No one ever listens to that last suggestion :(
Anyway, here's what Paramount's trying out next week, and I bet it will fix everything: They're offering a "mega ticket" at certain Regal theaters showing World War Z, where a mere $50 will get you a ticket to the movie, a digital download of the movie in a few months, "one  pair of World War Z collector's custom 3D glasses," a movie poster, and a small popcorn. As Jordan Raup at the Film Stage points out, World War Z is a weird/terrible movie to test this strategy with, considering nobody's really excited for it, and even if people do give World War Z a shot, they might think buying a copy of it before they even see it is... questionable? But Raup also points out that with something like Star Wars or Avengers, this idea would probably sucker in a lot of idiots who have too much money.
In other words, Paramount's trying to milk even more money out of an already super-expensive gamble—which is basically the mentality that got us to a summer like the one we're in, in which massive blockbusters are coming out almost every single week, each needing to make a ton of money to succeed. There just isn't that much money out there, and as we're already seeing with thudding bombs like After Earth and The Internship, I'm guessing we're in for a long summer of wannabe blockbusters face-planting on their heavily marketed faces. And yet studios keep doubling down on the blockbuster bet instead of figuring out what it is about movies like, say, Fast & Furious 6, The Purge, and Frances Ha so successful. (In the case of The Purge, jaw-droppingly so.) Each of those movies has at least one thing that's nearly impossible to find in this summer's blockbusters: A diverse, likeable cast. Someone who doesn't have a penis in the lead role. A clever concept. Unlike mega-expensive blockbusters, there isn't a formula when it comes to these (relatively) smaller pictures, but there is a change in focus, and—even in the case of Fast & Furious 6—an earnestness that goes a long way, both in terms of the films' quality and in audiences' willingness to support them.
Or, you know, they could try to charge people $50 to see World War Z. Whatever.