Don’t believe the hype: Covid will accelerate the democratization of the movie industry via Personalization, Curation & Customization.
For about a decade, journalists have spent their time navel gazing wondering about the future of their profession even though ironically, today many more people read and write articles that were once found in “newspapers” and “magazines,” and written by “journalists.” The issue was not journalism as much as “job safety.”
The web democratized the entire researching, writing, publishing value chain and blew the door off what was a very undemocratic and nepotistic industry. Sure, if you were lucky enough to know someone who could land you a job as intern or junior employee at NY Times or Time magazine (or frankly, even less glamorous publications), you had effectively won the Privilege Awards and were now on the other side of the velvet rope: meritocracy be damned. You saw this in one vertical after another; Bleacher Report and SB Nation exposed the antiquated model of Sports Illustrated, at first seeming like an impossible notion that Time Warner would ever find SI redundant with its acquisition of Bleacher Report… but that’s exactly what the impenetrable laws of demand and supply did.
In the same vein, Hollywood is the bastion of privilege, injustice and opaqueness – the Web began to chip away at that outdated process, YouTube amplified it, and now Covid will annihilate that ecosystem and replace it with something else.
Don’t get me wrong: there’s a lot to miss about movie theaters and the theatrical experience (and for the record, theaters will come back in one form or another), however, this notion that “without movie theaters, movies will not be discovered” is laughable at best and delusional at worse.
The Web’s main strengths – personalization, curation, customization etc. – will ensure that you will see the movies that are most pertinent to you based on your historical interests and in the event you want something more exotic, something that is different and new. May not seem sexy, but neither does going to see another movie because you got to the theater a few minutes late, and so on.
This will also extend to film financing, which is where things will get interesting. But we’re still in the early innings.
The Web at its core is democratic, or at least, more democratic than the old media it replaces. That’s a very dangerous notion to those who have benefited from having the power to decide what movies get developed, green-lit, financed, produced, distributed and so on. Putting that power into the hands of audiences is perhaps as unsavoury as the masses writing about their sports team (instead of one lucky journalist having that beat and getting paid to do something millions of others would do pro bono). The web exposes that inefficiency.
The people in the power have benefited literally by being gatekeepers. It’s a scary thought if you are on the wrong side of the gates. If you get turned down enough times and see the decision-maker’s nephew get the opening, then guess what, people will find ways to bring down the establishment.
But of course, I’m always rooting for the underdog.