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Modern system vs. old studio system


cjrogan2003
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I miss the old studio system immensely. They just can't make good movies anymore. What they rely on now is not starpoweror studio power, but on fixation on a SINGLE film. I cannot go anywhere and see at least ONE material promoting the STUPID Mike Myers version of "Cat in the Hat". I haven't seen it, but I don't care to see it. I mean, you have Burger King "happy meal" toys, you have cereal, you have the Cat's ugly mug on every food product...you get the point. Despite all this overpromotion, the film has not turned a profit for Universal and is rated 2.8 on the Internet Movie Database and is named one of their bottom 100 movies! In contrast, Will Ferrell's Elf is not getting all this overpromotion and is breaking box-office records! Am I right that this is what the studios do: overpromote something and bomb out?

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If you think the stuidio sytstem produced better movies altogether, I think that is only partially true. While the studio system produced a plethora of superb films, the cheif product of most studios was B movies - this all relates to vertical integration, where studios needed to supply their theaters with a large ammount of inexpensive films. While the studio system churned out 50+ films a year, think of how many were really A movies, and how many were B's. Nevertheless, with the production code and a sense of morals in this country, you are right in saying that most films from the studio system were superior to those produced today.

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As for the topic...I don't think that there are NO good movies anymore, but as someone already mentioned, the decline of the classic studio system had an irreversible effect on the studios' ability to churn out product with a consistent "style" to it. I do think that today's good films originate more from the talents and wills of determined filmmakers (directors, screenwriters, set designers, et al) than any studio inteligentsia. For instance, Peter Jackson spent over twelve years trying to put together the backing for the Tolkien trilogy, Scorsese announced Gangs of New York back in 1977, the rights to Schindler's List were picked up in, I believe, 1982, and Mike Nichols was first slated to direct the two-part Angels in America back in 1994! Things can occasionally get done, but it takes a long time and there is often no infrastructure and support system to quicken the process.

 

As for the happy meal tie-ins, that can be annoying, but consider the fact that EVERY studio is now part of a larger media conglomerate, where it makes full sense to capitalize on all possible marketable facets of a given property. If additional revenues can be made by releasing a soundtrack, publishing the screenplay, creating licensing deals, etc., it would be foolhardy not to take advantage of at least SOME of those avenues for money. Where the line between sensible business acumen and outright greed exists might differ from one person to the next, or perhaps one film to the next, but it's not a black-and-white issue for me, as I am certain that it is not for at least a few of my fellow BB members here.

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I agree with everyone that the studio system was the most efficient and productive way of producing movies. Although flawed, it was undoubtebly superior to today's system. I'd love to see another studio system, but studios are much different today. They don't produce enough films to require a stable of featured players, and the stars of today like their "creative control". MGM, Miramax, New Line... they don't even have their own lots. Times have changed, but I sure wish they would change back to the way the used to be. I think Hollywood produced a good film now and then. But in comparison the the studio system, today's production principles pale in comparison.

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Just an additional thought: I can't think of one single actor/actress who would be willing to sign a seven year contract with one studio today, and pump out up to eight movies per year. Nor can I think of one studio who would pay an actor what they demand (and get) per movie these days. It really doesn't matter which system we prefer, because life is all about change, and learning to accept it.

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Not only is the studio system gone, so is the old way of exhibition. In the 1940s and 1950s, the film always opened in New York and Los Angeles (and, occasionally, a premiere in another city), then opened in Chicago, Boston, St. Louis, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, then went into wide release. Now what they do is just OPEN the film all over the country in 2,000 multiplex screens. Speaking of the multiplex, it is VASTLY inferior to the old movie palaces of yesteryear. They are built for economy, not comfort or quality, and their too generic.

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You are partially correct. In the days of vertical integration, studio films would premiere in their chain's finest theaters in New York and Los Angeles, or occasionally another City (Gone With the Wind and Song of the South premiered in Atlanta). Then the film was exhibited in tier one (flagship) theaters, followed by tier two (regional), and finally tier three (neighborhood). After vertical integration, movies opened on roadshows. Films were booked at about seven flagship theaters nationwide, and then followed a similar pattern to that above. Roadshows faded by 1970, and turned into "event" tours. These were basically abbreviated roadshows - Star Wars is a good example. For a more detailed look at this subject, there are interesting articles at widescreenmuseum.com and lists of roadshow theaters and their films at In70mm.com . Hope this helped.

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