As the film industry faces a barrage of challenges, one of the most noticeable is the drop in ticket sales—down 5 percent from last year. In Hollywood, that’s a big number. Many studios are making fewer films per year and opening films in fewer theaters to make up for the loss. So what is the problem? Something is making Hollywood slump.
When was the last time you remember seeing a film that truly moved you? Lately, blockbusters that promise to deliver leave us flat—at least I felt that way a little after Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Most films are entertaining; I won’t deny that (I certainly enjoy the glitz of special effects). What I’ve been missing is a movie with heart and spiritual themes. I know there are a few of those out there, but they aren’t marketed well or released widely. In general we get clichéd stories with little or no intrinsic value.
Working at a film school has given me a lot of insight into the business. I’ve seen madly expensive equipment for editing, sound and camera work that I never thought I’d lay eyes on. I’ve also seen film students with a passion to bring the movie industry to a new level. I can’t wait to see their ideas realized.
A lot of my students present film concepts with spiritual depth. Not all of them deal directly with Christian spirituality, but I’m heartened that there is a realm of thought beyond the humanistic sphere in the minds of worldly students. The film world is no warm fuzzy place; it’s a school of hard knocks where many people get disillusioned along the way.
Does this mean we can look forward to a future film industry that deals with deeper subjects than crashing a wedding to look for chicks? I can only hope. What I see is a slice of the future film world, but I hope that my litmus test is correct. If so, there will be a definite change in the scripts written, produced and marketed to film audiences.
With the price of movies only skyrocketing and digital pirating of films increasing, the attitude is that most things coming out nowadays aren’t worth paying $9 per movie ticket. Unless it’s a “good” film, according to my students, then it’s okay to get it free. These students want to be innovative and real, producing movies that make the audience think and not rely only on special effects and revamped classics to entertain.
It’s no secret the impact movies can have on our lives. Movies are one of the best conversation starters. Enormous fan communities have built up for countless number of films.
If Hollywood keeps giving us nothing but movie fodder, I say don’t go to the theaters. If studios continue to see a slump in sales, maybe a light bulb will alert them that remakes and sequels are getting old. Maybe it’s time to make way for a new generation of filmmakers who prefer independent films and documentaries to summer popcorn flicks. Maybe Hollywood is the problem. We need new citizens for a new Tinseltown.