Hollywood the industry that marketing has defined

Apr 22, 2014
Hollywood's Financialization: From Classics to Caricatures as Marketing Takes Over, Abandoning Artistic Excellence and Prioritizing Profit.
"When I'm deciding whether or not to produce a film, the first thing I think about is whether or not I can sell it," says Oren Aviv, a Fox executive, in the documentary Made In Hollywood, by French filmmaker Anne Feinsilber. This documentary is a gem for understanding how Hollywood has ceased to be a factory of classics and has become a caricature of itself, limited to franchises and sequels based on comic book heroes. In the process, the involvement of marketers, agents, lawyers, and bankers becomes evident. Hollywood is no longer a film industry: it is an extension of the financial market.
The American film industry has never been about patronage. The goal has always been to raise funds. All generations of actors and filmmakers who thrived in Hollywood were part of this machine. The difference is that things started to change from the beginning of the 1980s.
For Peter Biskind, author of the sensational Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, a book that tells the rise and fall of the author's cinema that gave the world masterpieces such as The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, and The Deer Hunter, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, with the films Jaws (1975) and* Star Wars* (1977) were the characters who started the process of "financialization" of cinema. Until then, Hollywood's goal was to make money by making great films. After that, the goal was only to make money with merchandising, resale of rights to other media, production of games, and internationalization of products.
From the 80s onwards, the transformation has been happening relentlessly. When this process started, the big Hollywood studios released about 500 films annually in the market. Nowadays, it's less than 100. The logic of the new scheme is to bet higher on films that can appeal to more audiences (hence the almost exclusivity of action-comedy films), including younger ones - something that explains the simplistic scripts, supposedly understandable by a twelve-year-old child.
The film industry no longer serves the consumers of this medium - it serves the industries that have taken control: marketing, "talent agencies", lawyers, and banks, and others involved in the production, such as insurers and unions. "Today, the chance of you arriving in Hollywood with a project that costs less than $150 million and a big studio picking it up is zero," says another interviewee of Feinsilber. "There is a limit to how much you can lose on the release of a film, but there is no limit to how much you can earn". Feinsilber observes that films like The Bridges of Madison County and Taxi Driver would not be made if presented today to a large studio executive.
Mark Gill, former president of Warner and Miramax, Mike Medavoy, former CEO of TriStar, with over 300 films, 17 nominations and 7 Oscars on his back were interviewed by Feinsilber. In both their speeches, it is possible to observe a frustration with the current regime, which not only threw them out of the Hollywood elite but also created a suffocating scenario for producers. "There was a dispute over control of the industry in the 90s, between the film industry and the bankers who financed it. The bankers won," Medavoy observed.
Gill also observes that today it is practically impossible for a CEO of a large studio to stay in office for a long time. "Just one failure and you're out. Everyone treats the production of a film with a marketing budget of $500 million as concrete, but it's nothing more than a big bet". For comparison, a marketing budget of this size is what a large automaker spends to launch a vehicle worldwide.
Gill and Medavoy point out another "symptom" of how the system lives on investment in marketing: regardless of the reception of criticism, what determines the success or failure of a film is the box office on the opening night. If it loses to other premieres, the number of theaters showing the film starts to decrease the following weekend.
This Hollywood, decadent in terms of the quality of the media produced, is the one that declared war on "piracy" in the USA. The studios have strong connections in Congress, through their lobbyists. The effort to try to fit digital media into their needs has nothing to do with regulation in favor of copyright. Hollywood only wants to lubricate the machine that churns out sequels and remakes for an increasingly less thinking audience to distribute piles of money among those who have kidnapped it. The talent not exploited by cinema migrated to TV, where series like *House of Cards*, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire collect as many awards as viewers,
The machine has become so fascist and authoritarian that even Google's results use derogatory terms (try searching for "ridiculous hollywood" on Google and Yahoo to see the difference). Entities representing Hollywood studios are aggressive in both lobbying in Congress and fighting "piracy", even if piracy is your five-year-old child singing the theme song of a blockbuster. The expression "land of freedom" only serves for the marketing of the USA today - an epitaph consistent with this text.
By the way: Aviv also couldn't resist the meat-grinding machine mentioned by Medavoy and Gill. He left Fox in 2011. Like the Greek god Cronus, Hollywood also eats the children it generates.

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