In the past few months, I have seen some comments suggesting that I neither appreciate nor understand the wisdom of the Hollywood system. I have to confess, I didn't know that there was such a thing. But perhaps I have an attitude problem. Must be time...

The summer movie season is basically over. Actually, it kind of wrapped up around May 5 with the opening of Iron Man 3. Sure, there were later jolts from Fast and Furious 6 and  Despicable Me 2. But basically this summer has been a massive...

Before we begin, let me emphasize that crowdfunding is a real word. Just ask the Oxford American Dictionary. They have Oxford in their title, so they ought to know. Historically various forms of crowdfunding can be traced back to the 17th Century, starting with early forms of subscription systems for the publication of works by Martin Luther. This link to the Reformation is not surprising since crowdfunding carries with it a certain inherent rejection of hierarchical authority. Part of the modern appeal for crowdfunding is its libertarian appeal, as it holds out the possibility of a level playing field. All projects are born equal in the eyes of Kickstarter.

Film distribution is about to undergo the most radical transformation seen since the Lumière Brothers switched from private to public screenings. Heck, it may be the most dramatic change since Thomas A. Edison hooked a coin box to the Kinetoscope and began milking the audience. The...

According to the prophets, the major studios will soon implode into a vast dark pit while meteors will fall and the rain shall turn into fire and brimstone. OK, that isn't exactly what was said by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, but it would be pretty easy to jack it up that way for the movie version. The recent presentation by the two grand men at the media center of the University of Southern California has stirred up debate through out the film industry. Obviously I am no stranger to preaching about the End of Hollywood. But I didn't realize that they were already opening the Hollywood Death Cafe. At the core of their chat, Spielberg and Lucas both outlined the imminent demise of the current studio system. It seems ironic that they would bring this up about the same time that the movie Man of Steel would set a domestic release record. But Man of Steel actually proves their point.

We all know what an indie film is, right?  It's a movie that is independently made...and that particular tautology sums up the problem. This use to be a pretty straight forward proposition. If it wasn't made by a Hollywood studio, it was an indie. Though this was strictly an institutional definition, it was viewed as relatively sufficient. But as Hollywood studios became media companies and the financial conditions of film production became an increasingly complex system of multiple investors, all movies have become largely independent productions in the most basic economic sense. Sure, these flicks are not indie movies in any way, shape or form. But they are not really studio movies either, since no studios really exist any more.

Several years ago, I asked if the film industry knew their audience.  It's a question that can be asked at virtually every level of the business as demonstrated last month during a panel discussion at the International Cinema Technology Association. Of course, the presentation at the International Cinema Technology Association was primarily focused on exhibitor related issues.  Especially issues related to digital conversion, alternative content (for example, sports) and items at the concession stand.  For indie filmmakers, the second item might be the only interesting point.  After all, it's not impossible (though it might seem to be) that a theater might host something like a Thursday night indie presentation.

Thanks to the New York Times, folks in the film industry are once again worrying about the invasion of the data crunchers. In the recent article Solving Equation of a Hit Film Script, With Data, reporter Brooks Barnes practically compares us data crunchers to a zombie invasion. And yes, I said “us.” I am a data cruncher (though oddly enough, we don't much use that term in the business).  So I do have a wee bit of an invested stake in this topic. Which is why I feel the need to set the record straight on a few points. 

When Steven Soderbergh is cruising at 32,000 feet, he gets philosophical. That is one impression from his recent State of the Cinema address delivered April 25, 2013, as the keynote speech to the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival. The speech has become a must read, as it has made the rounds of blog sites and entertainment news reports. I think it has actually received more press than the Gettysburg Address in its day.

It sometimes takes a lot of work to tell us what we already know. That is one of my impressions after reading the recent Variety report about the current state of Hollywood, as analyzed by Michael Nathanson for Nomura Equity Research. Nathanson's report, based on ten years of scrutiny, seems to present a semi-optimistic picture of Hollywood's current direction as he maps out the its modern business model. Notice I have a “semi” in there. According to this report, Hollywood has succeeded in streamlining cost issues by reducing productions and focusing on a few selected tent pole releases. I guess that is one way of looking at it. In turn, these movies have a higher box office profile and generate much larger revenues. By and large, that is true. For every $300 million spent, at least $250 million is earned at the box office. The report suggests that the past decline in theater admission may now be on a slight upward tick. Actually, the real figures suggest that the decline may have at best bottomed out. The signs of life are erratic. The decline in the home-video market has possibly bottomed out as well. Quick note to Nathanson: don't bet on it buddy.