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Are Movies on Their Way Out? 
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Post Are Movies on Their Way Out?
I got this started in one of the television threads, and damn it, it's been racing around in my head the past few weeks, so here it goes.

I've said that I've always been a movie guy rather than a TV binge-watcher because you get the story told in one sitting (except multiple-chapter stuff like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc), and that the sheer size/catch-up factor of TV dramas feels overwhelming once you fall behind.

More and more often, I see people on Facebook and Twitter going apeshit over The Walking Dead, True Detective, and Scandal, among others. And of course we all remember how Breaking Bad dominated everyone and their mother's feed. Even Richard Roeper called Sundays of 2013-14 "the best night in TV history." The passion is pretty intense, maybe even over-the-top. So many people I talk to (co-workers, real-life friends, FB friends, etc) have no problem binge-watching TV shows night after night, but where is that same passion for movies? Maybe it's just early in the year and it'll pick up when the blockbusters start arriving, but I wonder sometimes.... are movies on their way out?

I totally understand the advantages of TV. With cable packages and Netflix, you pay a flat rate for all the shows as opposed to per ticket for movies. Not to mention that you can tell a longer, more detailed arc. With movies, we still go crazy over superhero flicks, Star Wars, Fast & Furious, etc, but even those are franchise installments. Some are self-contained, but others need several "episodes" to tell the story.

I'm sure most of these shows are entertaining, and eventually I'll get around to watching them, but still, sometimes I feel like we movie die-hards are a dying breed.

Let's discuss. 8-)

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Television shows, even or maybe especially stuff like Downton Abbey, can run a series of cliffhangers to near infinity. The relatively short running time of a television program doesn't always get used to any advantage: out of 12 or 24 episodes, any number of these are meaningless babble that marginally advance a storyline or character but often appear to exist in order to exercise a holding pattern. This isn't always true but, even with the 'cinematic' stuff that HBO or AMC produces, there is always some cheap broth that works as a break for the writers or a pleasure for the audience, something that is generally edited out of a good movie. Not that the two forms should really be placed alongside one another.

Movies, without the constant cliffhangers and with a longer running time, appear to be more work for some viewers. I believe this is understandable: story concentration can be tighter in a movie. There's also that a television series, a popular one, is available to a wider audience. Like the dinner table, a television show is something that gets gathered around. Huh. I liked the way that sounded in my head but dislike it as written. Oh well. Continuing on, movies are no more on their way out than chicken noodle soup is unfashionable. Unfortunately, movies now borrow some of the constricted (or freeing, depending on your perspective) storytelling techniques that were once left only to television. The popular Hunger Games movies, among others, are as big and lumbering (just my opinion) as any average television miniseries. I suppose the audience sees this as generosity while I see it as boring and something to be avoided.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:29 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
I think TV is definitely undergoing a sort of renaissance at moment, mainly due to the popularity (and thus revenue) of pay TV cable channels (HBO etc) and the meteoric rise of online companies (Netflix, Amazon). With the shackles of having to appease to the advertising gods removed from TV and constricting MPAA rating for movies, creators have more freedom to put their vision on the screen than ever before. Indeed, if you look at a superlative show like True Detective, it's truly better in almost every way (direction, acting, cinematography, plot) than the vast majority of Hollywood films. The TV medium also allows for far more complex characters and situations to be examined (because you have a lot more time to do so). So for sure, I am increasingly spending more time watching QUALITY television, but only because there is simply more of it around lately.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 3:40 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Mark III wrote:
Television shows, even or maybe especially stuff like Downton Abbey, can run a series of cliffhangers to near infinity.


Indeed. No disrespect to anyone who enjoys it, but the idea that Downton Abbey is classy or good TV is just silly; it's as immature and soapy as anything else -- The Vampire Diaries is much better written, less hammily acted and better plotted show. Don't get me wrong, neither are great or even very good, but that Downton has snuck into the the conversation of great TV is infuriating.

Mark III wrote:
The relatively short running time of a television program doesn't always get used to any advantage: out of 12 or 24 episodes, any number of these are meaningless babble that marginally advance a storyline or character but often appear to exist in order to exercise a holding pattern. This isn't always true but, even with the 'cinematic' stuff that HBO or AMC produces, there is always some cheap broth that works as a break for the writers or a pleasure for the audience, something that is generally edited out of a good movie.


I agree with your sentiment about meaningless babble, although I don't think it's an exclusively TV problem, it's just more obvious in TV. For example, I think you could cut 20 minutes from every 2013 Best Picture nominee without losing anything essential.

The only place I take issue with your thoughts is the idea that there is "always some cheap broth that works as a break for the writers or a pleasure for the audience." It's certainly true that no show actually requires a viewer to watch every episode (see the "Breaking Bad in 2 Hours" video), and that almost every show has filler episodes. And no show is by any means perfect, Breaking Bad/The Wire/Sopranos/etc included. But there's a difference between ideas that don't work and "cheap broth" that gives writers a break/gives fan service. I think Breaking Bad, for example, certainly has its share of problems, but I can't think of what could be fairly considered stretching or fan service on the part of the writers. The pressure and method of network shows certainly lends itself to more need to stretch (although cable shows are most certainly at times guilty of it), and while I do love a few shows I'm not worshipping at the table of any of them. Again, I just think that honest ideas that are no good/fall flat are a different animal than the kind of faux storytelling I think you're referring to. Of course, the ultimate problem of what we're talking about is the nature of TV as a money-maker and the fact that shows almost never get to end when they should, only when they stop making money, and that often occurs way too early or way too late.

And I don't think this is what you're saying specifically, Markity Mark, but there seems to be an increasing element in the critics/fans of both TV and movies that rejects/decries anything that provokes an intense base human emotion, as if doing so necessarily means it's being done cheaply. Don't get me wrong: shows like 24 are built on complete bullshit "twists" and cliffhangers that become insulting to the audience, and shows like The Walking Dead and Dexter shift around character motivations and rules of the world at their leisure, consistency be damned. I don't want to get into specific examples of what's good because I know there's a lot of opinion here, but when a show provokes a shout/cry/panic/desire to move time forward a week/summer when credits roll, that's not necessarily a bad or cheap thing. Indeed, the earned ones are the reward of TV that's actually good.

All in all, movies are going nowhere.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 4:46 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
I don't think movies are going anywhere anytime soon. I do think there are several trends currently happening that will eventually strangle movies to death if they're allowed to continue.

At this point, movies have a higher budgetary barrier of entry than ever, a higher technological barrier of entry than ever, and a more incestuous talent pool than ever. Every major decision is being made by enormously risk-averse people who are mainly concerned with selling cars and consumer electronics. A major motion picture has become a heavily-corporatized method of turning around a nine-figure investment. Independents--true independents--are dead as disco.

Meanwhile, a lot of brilliant new talent that might have gone into film as recently as 15 years ago has gone to television instead, or even web-based media, because those are greener pastures for untested ideas that don't necessarily have to make hundreds of millions of dollars in order to be considered a success.

And really, people, let's not dog on television shows for their formulaic elements. Movies are every bit as bad in that regard, if not worse. You can set your watch to the major "twists" of most movies being made today. The only difference is that movies require a longer one-time commitment and television shows require a generally longer commitment in shorter sittings--and, for the increasingly large audience of home viewers, the latter is the more ideal situation.

And perhaps it's best not to scoff at those people. Perhaps it's the sign of a very real challenge facing movies today, one that television has risen to far more effectively.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 6:16 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Many people have stated that 2013 was one of the best years for films that they can remember and I certainly can't argue with that.

Moviegoers are most certainly not a "dying breed" by a longshot.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 7:17 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Ken wrote:
I don't think movies are going anywhere anytime soon. I do think there are several trends currently happening that will eventually strangle movies to death if they're allowed to continue.

At this point, movies have a higher budgetary barrier of entry than ever, a higher technological barrier of entry than ever, and a more incestuous talent pool than ever. Every major decision is being made by enormously risk-averse people who are mainly concerned with selling cars and consumer electronics. A major motion picture has become a heavily-corporatized method of turning around a nine-figure investment. Independents--true independents--are dead as disco.

Meanwhile, a lot of brilliant new talent that might have gone into film as recently as 15 years ago has gone to television instead, or even web-based media, because those are greener pastures for untested ideas that don't necessarily have to make hundreds of millions of dollars in order to be considered a success.

And really, people, let's not dog on television shows for their formulaic elements. Movies are every bit as bad in that regard, if not worse. You can set your watch to the major "twists" of most movies being made today. The only difference is that movies require a longer one-time commitment and television shows require a generally longer commitment in shorter sittings--and, for the increasingly large audience of home viewers, the latter is the more ideal situation.

And perhaps it's best not to scoff at those people. Perhaps it's the sign of a very real challenge facing movies today, one that television has risen to far more effectively.


I'm inclined to disagree with some of what you've said. If you want to get you movie made at a studio, you are right; studios are more risk-averse than ever. But the technology is there for those looking to make an independent film, and the barrier for entry so far as equipment is concerned is much, much lower today. What used to take a whole studio's worth of technicians can now be done on a PC. I will grant you that it may be harder to get you movie noticed today, but that's true of just about any field. It's harder than ever to get you music, book or app noticed, because there's so much more to choose from today.

Really, the problem with movies is an age-old one: too much money. It should not cost $300 million to make and market a film. TV and Web production is cheaper, and as such is able to take a few chances because the potential to lose great sums of money isn't as high. I honestly don't see the studios keeping up what they're doing; if one studio has a few Lone Ranger-style bombs in a single year, it could really shake up the business. It has happened before and can definitely happen again.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:21 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
You're right; the off-the-shelf technology for filmmaking is cheaper than ever. The question then becomes, how many people are actually using this stuff to make feature films, as opposed to purposing it toward some other kind of media? Again, there are far greener pastures than movies for these people.

If you want to work independently but still work in feature films--and I mean really work in the industry, rather than just art for art's sake--you're looking at years of getting the financing together, and that's not counting however much time it takes to build a network of contacts.

Music is a different jam; that's something that is available at various levels, at various price points, et cetera. If you want to pay a few dollars' cover charge to get into a pub and see the house band, odds are you don't have to travel very far. If you want to pay a bit more and see some of the local groups at a club, again, you probably just have to go to the nearest city with a decent commercial district. If you want to see a regional touring band, or a nationally recognized band, or a world-touring group... et cetera, et cetera.

Movies are different. It's not the kind of thing that lends itself to as many varieties of exhibition as music, or as many levels of sophistication and resources at the amateur level. Most urban areas don't have a thriving local filmmaking scene. It's not nearly as nurturing an art form for people who prefer to do it themselves and forgo the business... again, this is strictly speaking movies.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:31 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
I agree that television is indeed going through a particularly high peak (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, etc.) but I don't think it would replace films. Overall, they are two different mediums with two different goals. One was never meant to replace the other.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 8:43 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
I think there's a real lack of direction in film criticism and film buffery right now, in addition to the difficulty of production. For the first time in history, all movies ever made are available, many in high definition, at the click of a mouse. So why is interest in older movies at an all time low? Most of my binge-watching comes from that. But with all the fixations on so many TV shows, there's little room for it. For the same reasons as KW, I can't work up passion for TV; it's too chore-ish. But it's interesting how more concentrated story can seem more of a chore for others. I hope that spectacle action filmmaking continues, because I enjoy it. But it's no use trying to aspire to make that myself. I think there's still a lot of potential for indie filmmaking, but the market seems pretty dry even for the coen type audience. How much harder would it be today even to get big lebowski made than it was in 98?


Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Movies will never completely go away... but it's definitely getting harder and harder for filmmakers with very personal, unique (and largely uncommercial) visions/POVs (e.g. Jim Jarmusch, Guy Maddin, the Polish brothers, David Lynch - who may have finally given up altogether :( , etc.) to exist within the medium -- and that's not a good thing. TV generally doesn't interest me that much as a medium. The only 2 shows over the last decade that managed to blow me away and totally suck me in were Arrested Development and Lost... and both of those shows' sensibilities were arguably more in line with those of film.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:41 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Thief12 wrote:
I agree that television is indeed going through a particularly high peak (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, etc.) but I don't think it would replace films. Overall, they are two different mediums with two different goals. One was never meant to replace the other.

But they do both compete for your eyeball time though. Every hour you spend watching TV is one hour less you spent watching movies (on the same screen). If you have increased your television viewing lately (as I have), you are likely spending less time seeing films. We haven't even mentioned video games yet, which are also becoming increasingly complex (sometimes with compelling characters and story) and so can also often provide an adequate substitute for both TV and film (e.g. I'm playing through Stick of Truth at the moment, and again, every minute I'm doing that, I'm not watching movies... or other things I could be doing).


Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:46 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
nitrium wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
I agree that television is indeed going through a particularly high peak (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, etc.) but I don't think it would replace films. Overall, they are two different mediums with two different goals. One was never meant to replace the other.

But they do both compete for your eyeball time though. Every hour you spend watching TV is one hour less you spent watching movies (on the same screen). If you have increased your television viewing lately (as I have), you are likely spending less time seeing films. We haven't even mentioned video games yet, which are also becoming increasingly complex (sometimes with compelling characters and story) and so can also often provide an adequate substitute for both TV and film (e.g. I'm playing through Stick of Truth at the moment, and again, every minute I'm doing that, I'm not watching movies... or other things I could be doing).


Yeah, but then again we might have to stretch the line to every single entertainment medium out there, from sports to books to bird-watching. Every one is taking time away from the other, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a discussion of "TV replacing films" or which one is better.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:25 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Thief12 wrote:
Yeah, but then again we might have to stretch the line to every single entertainment medium out there, from sports to books to bird-watching. Every one is taking time away from the other, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a discussion of "TV replacing films" or which one is better.

That's true, but I'm talking specifically about the specific activity of watching a screen. Sports do count as competition for movies (watching on a TV screen), but books and bird watching do not - they are entirely different activities. Similarly, TV and video games and sports don't really compete with films either as far as the cinema experience goes - while the box office returns remain healthy, movies will of course continue to be made. The issue then is how often do you actually watch movies on the big screen vs small screen as a ratio?


Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:33 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
nitrium wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
Yeah, but then again we might have to stretch the line to every single entertainment medium out there, from sports to books to bird-watching. Every one is taking time away from the other, but that doesn't necessarily translate into a discussion of "TV replacing films" or which one is better.

That's true, but I'm talking specifically about the specific activity of watching a screen. Sports do count as competition for movies (watching on a TV screen), but books and bird watching do not - they are entirely different activities. Similarly, TV and video games and sports don't really compete with films either as far as the cinema experience goes - while the box office returns remain healthy, movies will of course continue to be made. The issue then is how often do you actually watch movies on the big screen vs small screen as a ratio?


Then there are two questions. The one asked in the OT, which argued whether "movie die-hards are a dying breed" because of the success of TV shows, and the one you just asked. To answer the latter while segueing into the other, I'll say that I would never replace films with TV shows. Like I said before, both have different goals and I approach both differently.

That said, I do find myself watching more TV shows than I do films nowadays. I'm currently invested in probably 10+ shows (obviously alternating through the year) and I probably watch 1 or 2 TV episodes daily; probably more on weekends. But I still make a point to watch at least 1-2 films weekly as well, and I wouldn't want to replace the experience of watching a good film with a TV show... or viceversa.

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Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:56 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
TV shows have stepped up their game in terms of quality recently, so I can see why people would prefer shows over movies since shows have the advantage of being able to flesh out its characters and expand its story through episodes and seasons whereas movies only have two hours to do all those things. It also doesn't help that ticket prices are ridiculously high, a regular ticket for me is $13, with 3D its $17 and IMAX 3D its $23. To watch a show I can just stream it on Netflix or find it online for free. I love movies though, and until the amount of tickets sold each year all of the sudden drops at an alarming rate, I don't think movies will be on their way out anytime soon.


Vexer wrote:
Many people have stated that 2013 was one of the best years for films that they can remember and I certainly can't argue with that.

Moviegoers are most certainly not a "dying breed" by a longshot.


Agreed, 2013 and even 2012 were probably the best years for movies of this century so far. 2014 also has not been disappointing, there have been a surprising amount of good and great films. I'd say the first two months of this year were definitely an improvement over the first two months of last year, but the last four months of 2013 are going to be hard to beat.


Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:32 pm
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
Movies still sell tickets, but it still seems like die hard cinephiles are a dying breed. All anyone wants to talk about is current stuff. From my POV, who cares how good 2013 and 2012 were? There's 100 years of movies to choose from which are largely being ignored and forgotten.


Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:57 am
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
MGamesCook wrote:
Movies still sell tickets, but it still seems like die hard cinephiles are a dying breed. All anyone wants to talk about is current stuff. From my POV, who cares how good 2013 and 2012 were? There's 100 years of movies to choose from which are largely being ignored and forgotten.


Yes but we're talking about today and how people prefer watching TV shows over movies and going to the theater to see them. All my friends and co-workers ever talk about are shows, they aren't even talking about movies today let alone films from over the past 100 years. And yes, movies are still selling tickets, but not nearly as much as they were from 2002-04 which hold the records for most tickets sold.


Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:31 am
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
When you're watching a show like True Detective it's hard to fathom how the time could have been BETTER spent watching movies.


Thu Mar 13, 2014 2:56 am
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Post Re: Are Movies on Their Way Out?
nitrium wrote:
When you're watching a show like True Detective it's hard to fathom how the time could have been BETTER spent watching movies.


Based on the trailer, I can see that the cinematography is good. And it stars the latest best actor winner for film, so in a sense there truly is no more difference between film and TV. Really the biggest difference I see is the same difference that's been there since the early 50s: spectacle, and film's ability to provide it in ways that TV still cannot. With all these other advances, you'd think TV would have found a way to match that too, but it hasn't. Of course, spectacle isn't the only difference. The Big Lebowski and A Serious Man aren't spectacles, but they have something TV has never had, and it's difficult to describe exactly.

But aside from that, film has traditionally featured better acting, but that's over and done with I guess. So the only other thing that remains is the chore aspect of not getting the full package until the very end, after sometimes dozens of hours. Dozens of hours of foreplay, one hour of climax at the end of the season? Too frustrating for me.


Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:25 am
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