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The State of the Union: Hollywood edition

Posted on February 14th, 2014
Posted on February 14th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Now that we have heard a State of the Union address from our president, here is the Small Town Critic State of Hollywood address for 2014…

  • Micro-budget indie films are increasing in quantity and quality. Expect to hear more rags-to-riches stories in 2014 of successful indie films (in the vein of “Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity”) made by very young filmmakers for almost no money.

  • Hollywood has been increasing its number of scheduled blockbuster releases every year and 2014 will set a record in terms of the number of big-budgeted theater releases. Unfortunately, this trend has not resulted in higher ticket sales and Hollywood has already taken a bath on their recent investments. Since the 2014-2015 film slate was already locked-down, blockbuster releases will appear to increase but, in 2016 this could change drastically. Hollywood is expected to try a more modest release schedule in favor of paradigms that support lower-budgets and take more advantage of the lucrative watch-at-home market. Sony Pictures was the first to begin making this change last year.

  • Movie/TV/music stars seem to be dying off at an increasing rate due to substance abuse and risky behavior. Unfortunately, this trend will probably continue to increase this year because of the resurgence of heroin as a popular drug amongst the Hollywood elite. There is also a growing obsession amongst desperate celebrities in manufacturing ‘fake public meltdowns’ in order to attract the limelight or to facilitate a change in image. Bafflingly, this strategy often works, so expect the less scrupulous celebrities to escalate this type of behavior this year. Actor Shia LaBeouf seems to be the most current celeb engaging in one of these misguided meltdown campaigns.

  • The internet continues to increase its presence in delivering movie content to consumers. Everything from phones to large flat-screens can utilize WiFi to stream movies and the technology is quickly improving. The biggest threat to this highly convenient resource is the U.S. Court of Appeals which recently (Jan. 2014) struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s ‘Open Internet Order’ which prevented Internet Service Providers from blocking or slowing certain services to certain users. This lack of ‘net neutrality’ allows companies like Comcast, AT&T and Time Warner Cable to censor or reject competing content, severely limit broadband speeds and overcharge streaming services like Netflix which use up the majority of their bandwidth. In short it gives corporations overwhelming control over the theoretically ‘free’ internet in America. Best-case scenario: This will raise the price of watching movies online. Worst-case: It could gut the entire movie streaming industry.

  • The media attention on drones has resulted in a massive surge of popularity in the flying machines. The technology of the flying cameras has progressed so quickly, it is now easily accessible to consumers. 2014 will be the ‘Year of the Drone’ in which they will inundate the market and push the legal boundaries of the technology. Expect an increasing number of articles about drone accidents that threatened safety, invasion of privacy, suspected terrorism and abuse of drones by military and police.

  • Big-budgeted, made-for-cable dramas are booming. These high-quality adult oriented shows have been attracting more A-list talent than ever before and are a huge hit with critics and audiences. Expect an increasing number of these excellent shows (like HBO’s “True Detective” and AMC’s “The Walking Dead”) to release this year.

  • Geek Culture” is no longer a pop-culture fad; it has become fully mainstream. Formerly nerdy subjects like comic books, superheroes, animation, video games, role-playing games, etc… are now embraced by the majority of American society and has increased in popularity with children of all socio-economic groups. Also, ‘Superhero’ movies have gone from being a silly novelty to a staple of American cinema. An increase in this type of content in 2014 will reflect this trend.

  • Hollywood has a recent history producing a large number of ‘political activism’ films despite the fact that they consistently bomb at the box office. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, having produced some of the most violent movies in the past three decades, has declared he will no longer make gratuitously violent films and plans to attack the National Rifle Association with an anti-gun film starring Meryl Streep. Weinstein may be going against the grain of mainstream Hollywood in his political activism as the market seems to favor more right-leaning programming (“Duck Dynasty” being a notable example). Expect Hollywood to uncharacteristically produce more content for the conservative market as its popularity has increased dramatically in the past year.

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