Thursday, June 26, 2008

The book industry may be a good model to use in accomodating the new developments & growing the US film industry

The following three things, I believe, are true:

1 - Hollywood movies are popular, both in the US & world wide

2 - Because of digital production & the web, more non-Hollywood filmmakers can make movies now, and thus more movies are made now than 10 years ago

3 - There are more film festivals in existence now, compared to the number 10 years ago; and most festivals are generally well attended

So what does this mean for the US film industry, in all areas (Hollywood, indiewood, real indie/DIY, etc.), for the future?

Reportedly around 600 movies were released theatrically in the US last year. Several thousand, around 5000 according to one count, movies are made in the US - in Hollywood & outside of Hollywood, and most likely that number will increase.

Is there a US creative industry where tens of thousands of unique products/titles are released to consumers each year?

Yes, the book industry. According to this & other sources, in recent years over 100,000 books were published in the US. In 2007 the book industry's revenues were at $37.26 billion (according to this study), and in 2012 they expect book industry revenues to be at $43.46 billion.

I have not seen studies that combine the revenue of Hollywood movies and non-Hollywood movies to give a total picture of the amount of revenue generated by all filmmaking & distribution activities in the US. One study reports Hollywood revenue alone to be at $42.6 billion in 2006.

The desire to watch Hollywood movies and the desire of non-Hollywood filmmakers to make thousands of movies each year is not going to go away, and both desires, most likely, will increase - resulting in more customers US & world wide for all kinds of American movies (Hollywood & indie) & also resulting in an increase of number of films produced each year.

In a few years, it may happen that 50,000 or more new films will become available each year to consumers through several avenues and the overall revenue & profits for the film industry will increase because some of the new films, new indie films, will serve customers that have been under served by Hollywood in the past. The very high cost of producing & distributing Hollywood movies makes it impossible to serve all or even many different types of customers. However, the much lower cost of producing real independent movies, and the lower cost of making them available to interested audience members using the lower cost publicity & delivery abilities of the internet, can result in more revenue for the overall US filmmaking & distribution industry.

The digital enabled jump in filmmaking will, I think, ultimately be a positive development for the entire film production & distribution economy.

As the book industry shows, it is possible for a US creative industry to release over 100,000 unique products each year and generate, overall, a very healthy amount of revenue.

Thus, I believe, the future for the US film industry looks bright - because of the increase in filmmaking due to digital and because of the popularity of the web, the increased efficiency in communications due to same, and not in spite of it.

So, Hollywood & its indiewood friends, the increased levels of production in the real indie world & the increased web interest in all manner of films is ultimately a good thing for everyone. The shape of the US film industry's future may be: Hollywood at the core, and the tallest & most visible of the elements, as it has been for decades in America, but, with the outlying areas greatly expanded, with thousands of low budget digital movies being made & each marketed to relatively small groups of people - using both traditional avenues (theatrical & home entertainment) & relatively new avenues - film festivals and the web. Collectively these small groups that will be served by thousands of low budget, off-Hollywood digital indie movies may add up to a significant number of people, and a significant amount of revenue.

This change, the film industry changing its shape to resemble the book industry in many ways will be a good thing for all - more work opportunities for filmmakers, more revenue for companies & investors, more satisfying art/entertainment/media options for a greater number of consumers.

- Sujewa

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