What Tech Giant Will Buy A Major Studio?
Okay, I did not get it all right last year. Perhaps you think my crystal ball had a crack in it. But I did not say they would all hit this year. Check back on 2014′s predictions come the 2020′s and you might be surprised how right I am. Or not, but still if we don’t look at where we think we are going, how are we to pave the roads to take us there?
So what do I predict this year for the years ahead? In examining this list, take in mind that I am not advocating for these developments, nor am I ranking them. I just took the moments needed to examine where we are today, what’s been said, and where it may all lead. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and where you think it may go too.
1. The Industry Will Wise Up About What Is Said On Email. The Sony Hack will be the final straw. In the age of Wikileaks, Snowden, and posting of private photos of celebrities, corporate espionage will surely be going mainstream. When executives feel the need to curse other folks out, they will return to doing it to their faces. Expect corporate employment manuals to outline the proper way to misbehave and curse others out.
2. Tweeting On Screen With The Movie. Okay, this will be hell for some, but for others…it may even be devine. And if the theaters can make money from it? Wow. How could it NOT happen? It seems to be working in China. Stateside, filmmakers should put it in their contracts to prevent it if they don’t like it — but I think all experiments reveal something. And the Chinese have certainly given us some great innovations before, like gunpowder. At least it seems like no one is running out of ideas to appeal to the kids, right?
3. Short Features Become Popular With Artists And Audiences. 70 is the new 90. We have less available time than ever before and thus value our time more than we used to. The dominance of the 90 minute feature form was driven by the economic model. Theatrical release has become less of a necessity for filmmakers, whereas online opportunities abound. The internet is length agnostic. You add in the fact that shorter the film the less it should cost (both to make and consume), and you have to wonder what’s taking so long for the new hour length indie film to take hold.
4. More Films Will Be Available On SVOD & TVOD Internationally Alongside Their US Theatrical Release. The Weinstein Company may have started a trend with St. Vincent and Eleanor Rigby, opening in on SVOD in France simultaneously with the US Theatrical. This not only should reduce piracy but confronts some of the challenges of cultural abundance head on, while capitalizing on the global media hit a US release offers.
5. Having Unbundled, We Will Bundle Up In Different Clothing. Cutting the cord has been seen as a boon for consumers. More choice. Different options. But the huge wave of new SVOD services is going to drown us in options again. So people didn’t like having to take sports with their other channels (or was it the other way around) in the days of cable dominance? Well, how are they going to decide which of the 25 SVOD options to subscribe to? One can imagine it is only a short walk away from when many of those SVOD options starting banding together to offer discounts on bundles of their own. Or perhaps it will come from the hardware manufacturers… as that seems to be what Sony is doing.
6. Google, Apple, and/or Amazon Will Buy A US Studio. It will be chump change for them. You’ve got to think that a tech company would do a better job monetizing the library and other assets than the Studios do themselves these days. And the brand recognition that the Studios offer would be more expensive to build. It is only a matter of time. When?
7. Studios And Networks Will Scramble To Acquire Digital Content/Discovery Companies. The Studios never had a direct relationship with the consumer. It wasn’t easy to deliver. They employed market testing, but it was always a false situation. Video stores offered a little insight but were not a great way to capture data. Netflix has woken the giants to the reality of the value of recognizing your audience’s behavior and preferences. Why guess when you can know? Now many have built direct relationships with those that consume content and there is so much to learn. Expect there to be a lot of acquisition in this space.
8. “Ferguson” Will Surface In Many Movies. America (and capitalism) was built on violence and oppression. We still have not effectively grappled or reconciled with it. The repercussions ripple louder and louder. Movies have always helped us talk about the most challenging of subjects and emotions. Ferguson captures, as all police brutality towards black youth does, the weight we have before us, and we can count on our artists to tackle it far quicker than our politicians. SELMA, one of my favorite films of the year, sizzles with its present day relevance. It won’t be the only one though. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
9. The Traditional Television Business Will Worsen As Ratings Continue To Drop. Once you get to choose the when, where, and how, why would you ever go back? Live events are one thing, but once it is recorded people want control. Further, if you can watch something without commercial interruption, wouldn’t you? Granted, this is going to be very bad for quality content creation, which has been long supported by advertising. So who will ultimately win?
10. Sony Will License Spiderman Back To Marvel And Withdraw From The Superhero Wars — Well, if our industry was based on logic, they would. As Liam Boluk’s analysis of “Film Franchises, Platforms, & IP: The Future Of Superhero Cinema” so clearly points out, Sony and Fox both are at such a disadvantage to Disney and Warner Bros., they should withdraw now!