Since the millennium, no part of the media industry has seen as many changes as the film industry. Technology and filmmaking have evolved. The way movies are distributed has evolved. Furthermore, fast currency swings have wreaked havoc on the cash flow estimates of film producers.
As it navigates the transition to the era of streaming warfare, the industry is confronted with a slew of obstacles. Here are some of the main challenges it will face in the coming year.
1. Inclusivity Challenges
Inclusion in Hollywood continues to progress at a "very slow pace" and inconsistently, according to a report released in the autumn by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. It's a fact that was most recently demonstrated in the BAFTA nominations for 2020, which featured exclusively white actors and male directors.
In 2019, 19 of the 125 or so wide studio releases were directed by women, up from just four the year before. However, according to Tambay Obenson of IndieWire, 34 percent of the top 100 films of 2019 included a lead or co-star of color, up from 27 percent in 2018. However, the number of films directed by people of color declined from 26% in 2018 to 18% in 2019.
At its best, the film can bring people from all walks of life together and help them navigate and understand the world around them — a world rich in gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and class variety. To be successful in this area, studios should produce films with casts and crews that are more reflective of the society in which they are set. A vast lot of work remains to be done.
2. Inequality of income
The profits have not trickled down to those on the bottom rungs of the Hollywood ladder, as mega-corporations like Disney make billions every year and the biggest showrunners and filmmakers sign lucrative deals with studios and streaming services. Assistants often struggle to make ends meet on earnings that are barely above minimum wage. In addition to paying astronomically high rent in Los Angeles, agency assistants must dress to impress, while set PAs and writers assistants must pay for movie tickets and streaming services to stay current, all as part of a system that has long promised the possibility of realizing dreams if you pay your bills.
3. The Existential Crisis of CGI
When Will Smith can successfully battle a younger version of himself in 120 frames per second in "Gemini Man," and a 76-year-old Robert De Niro can be de-aged to a lifetime of more youthful moments in "The Irishman," it's an exciting time for visual effects. Recent films relying on CGI developments, however, have not all been warmly received by moviegoers.
Although these movies are shreds of evidence to the countless people who work relentlessly on bringing fantasy to life and to the stunning technological advancements realized in just a few years, they’re also proof that production companies need to think more creatively about expanding resources on such expensive CGI spectacles. Universal is apparently expecting a $70 million loss on "Cats" due to low box office performance, and the film's awards campaign has been halted due to negative reviews.
4. Unstable Streaming Wars
Netflix and Hulu are facing new competition from Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia, Quibi, and NBCUniversal, which have all started or are planning to launch their own streaming services. It's in this atmosphere that HBO paid nearly $20 million for TIFF breakout "Bad Education," and NBC paid $100 million per year for five years to have "The Office" on its Peacock channel.
It's almost certain that we'll see even more outrageous bargains as firms compete for customers' wallets and embrace the possibility of operating streaming platforms at a loss to do so. However, as streaming becomes more important than theatrical releases, there will need to be a method to the madness at some point. Netflix is already considering how it can offer bonuses for films that win awards or draw a significant number of viewers, a move that could help set the pattern for how artistry is rewarded in this new era.
There are undoubtedly issues facing filmmakers in the present; however, such issues, much like the ones that the industry has faced before now usually result in new and innovative ways to move the industry to the next level. And these look like they will have similar outcomes eventually.
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