The WGA strike: When will it end and do we really care anymore?

posted by Eric Friedmann on January 21, 2008 at 4:00 pm

I’ve often found from personal experience, that if you are without something for a long-enough period of time (voluntary or not), you’re likely to become used to the situation. I’ve spent a little time browsing through related blogs and comment boards and was surprised to see that a vast majority of people have been able to easily replace the time they used to spend watching broadcast television by instead watching DVD’s, reading and going out. Even late night talk show hosts proved they could still put on an entertaining show without the writers. Perhaps many are realizing for the first time that what was on television before the strike was not so great after all. In a nutshell, it’s beginning to look like we don’t care anymore about this strike.

I have been and continue to be one of those people! Sure, there are two sides to every argument in terms of sympathizing with the writers, but for me, it’s ultimately about the quality of entertainment that’s being written for the big and small screen. Were I happy with either, I’d be more sympathetic. But I (and many, many others) find it very difficult to be sympathetic to those who likely are making at least three times the amount of money I earn in a year! I mean, would I sympathize with the restaurant chef who wants more money if the food he/she was routinely preparing was just plain lousy?

What would a continued strike mean for the future of the movies? Well, so far, if it means the cancellation of films like TRANSFORMERS 2 and JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, then not only would I not care if the strike didn’t end, I’d probably encourage its prolongment!

To all those who work in Hollywood – if you want the support of the general public through all of your difficulties, you’re going to have to start producing more original and better quality results with your work. Because in the end, it’s the everyday person who decides to turn the TV on or off and whether or not to hand over their hard-earned money for a movie ticket.

Comments (81)

KenLayton on January 21, 2008 at 4:50 pm

Yeh those same striking writers gave us those stinkers like Bewitched, Underdog, and Pluto Nash as examples.

High production costs are making it harder and harder to make a movie in the USA. It’s high time the studios moved all production to Mexico where costs are considerably cheaper. In fact I’d be willing to say there are probably tons of talented and creative writers in Mexico that would give us fresh ideas and stories.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on January 21, 2008 at 6:10 pm

The longer they are on strike the betterr for the movie buisness.

LawMann on January 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm

It’s time to clean house and get a fresh crop of writers with fresh ideas. I’m getting sick and tired of remakes and films that have no story but depend on special effects to sell tickets.

schmadrian on January 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm


Wow. Can’t say I’ve done the classic comedy ‘laugh spray’ gag without liquid in my mouth before…but you guys helped me accomplish the feat.

Do you actually believe that writers are responsible for the dreck on our screens? You make it sound as if producers and studios have guns to their heads, that they have no other properties to develop other than ‘Bewitched’, etc, that the writers wield all the power in Hollywood, mwahahahaha…

Give me a break.
Seriously; if you have such a poor understanding of how things work in the film world, how decisions get made…why it really is that we have a paucity of stellar cinematic entertainment…do yourselves a favour and do some research. It’s not that difficult; you’ve managed to get to this site, you’re part the way there…

P.S. Do any of you have even a moiety of understanding of the issues of this strike…or more importantly, the issues going back decades having to do with the writer’s place in the overall scheme of things? I’d bet not. But I’ll let you in on this little secret: if there was more respect afforded writers, and what they create regarded as less a commodity to be purchased and then the creator dismissed, I’m willing to bet that what you’d see up on the screen would be of much greater integrity than you’re used to paying to withstand.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 21, 2008 at 8:44 pm

“what they create"
"what you’d see up on the screen”

That’s the whole point! Until “what is being created” and “what we’re seeing up on the screen” improves drastically, the average moviegoer who pays for their ticket and ultimately decides a movie’s grosses is not going to give one damn who in Hollywood is to blame! As far as I’m concerned, the WHOLE SYSTEM is to blame, and that includes the ones who are getting paid (or underpaid) writing the junk!

scorpio1949 on January 21, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Movie content on the screens these days are green lighted by the studio heads. Mind you these are conglomerates which took over years ago and that was the start of the downfall of Hollywood. I have relatives that have worked in the business (not writers) for years and these congloms were wearing old TV scripts out back in the 70’s till some of the critics started noticing,as did the viewers, that the plots seemed familiar. The NEW Hollywood moguls operated then and still do like shoe salesmen. If red is the hot color you make 45 red shoes (quality be damned). The recent TV scripts to movie trend follows the same logic. Then there is the special effects with no story line drek. Personally the best place to see anything new and daring is the indie circuit. These(mostly low budget) films have more substance than 80% of the output of the major film studios. I doubt that these projects would ever see the light of day with things as they stand at the majors these days. So when we start criticizing the writers I think we need to look at the source of the problem. These same type folks are the ones that worked on the music industry over the past few years…same modus operandi.

schmadrian on January 21, 2008 at 9:01 pm

“That’s the whole point! Until "what is being created” and “what we’re seeing up on the screen” improves drastically, the average moviegoer who pays for their ticket and ultimately decides a movie’s grosses is not going to give one damn who in Hollywood is to blame! As far as I’m concerned, the WHOLE SYSTEM is to blame, and that includes the ones who are getting paid (or underpaid) writing the junk"

Wah, wah, wah!

And yet movie industry revenue continues to go up and up and up…

“To all those who work in Hollywood – if you want the support of the general public through all of your difficulties, you’re going to have to start producing more original and better quality results with your work. Because in the end, it’s the everyday person who decides to turn the TV on or off and whether or not to hand over their hard-earned money for a movie ticket.”

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again:

Currently, studio revenues from theatrical distribution only account for about 11% of their total monies.

Think about that.

So even if you don’t go to the cinema, they’re still making money when you rent, buy, download movies, or when you watch them on a tv station… You casting your vote against ‘bad product’ by not paying $$$ at the cinema actually, really, honestly doesn’t mean that much in the long run.

But then neither does stamping your feet and holding your breath…but I have to admit, it’s entertaining.

BTW; you’d be gobsmacked to find out just how much great material there is available for development…that never gets made. But that’s a post in and of itself.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 21, 2008 at 9:28 pm

What I find entertaining is all these bullsh*t facts, figures, charts, graphs, estimates, statistics, ratios…and yes, excuses that those in Hollywood continue to throw out at the general public – as if that’s supposed to make one bit of difference to us! People who see movies and watch TV only care about one thing – the quality of the results! And right now (and for a long time now), the quality has been CRAP!

But what I still continue to fail to understand, though, is why people are still paying for the crap! This one is just beyond me! People do complain and complain about the crap, but continue to feed on it and make money for those who give it to us. I guess today’s Hollywood is a lot like White Castle – eveybody knows it’s poor quality food, and yet it keeps making money.


Oh, and by the way – personally, if I’m not paying to see it on the screen, I’m not renting it and I’m not watching it on TV.

schmadrian on January 21, 2008 at 9:45 pm

“What I find entertaining is all these bullsh*t facts, figures, charts, graphs, estimates, statistics, ratios…and yes, excuses that those in Hollywood continue to throw out at the general public – as if that’s supposed to make one bit of difference to us.”

Right. But the bottom line is…the bottom line. If a movie makes money…Hollywood is going to try to replicate that success…and even the product itself. Because it currently costs about $100 million to bring the average movie to wide release. So they’re in the business of reducing the odds as much as they can. So even if YOU don’t want to see ‘Knocked Up’, if enough movie-goers go see it…another one of its ilk will be made. Conversely, if the ‘gems’ don’t attract the ticket-buyers, no matter how good the film is…unless it garners trophies, prizes that allow it more attention…it’ll die a quiet death.

What to do? Well, you can’t dictate others' tastes. Especially the 12-30 set. All you can do is ‘boycott’ those films you suspect are of low quality (and here’s the kicker: you don’t get to ‘test drive’; once your monetary vote has been cast, that’s it, you’ve voted for the film whether you like it or not), and support the ones that are of the sort you want to see more of. (Of course, then you get films like ‘Bucket List’ that was a horrible effort, an insult to intelligent screenwriting everywhere…yet is making lots of cash for the studio. Go figure.)

And yes, it might be true that if you don’t buy a ticket, you don’t rent it, you don’t watch it…but revenue is still being generated off that release. Remember that less than half a studio’s theatrical release revenues comes from North America now. So even if YOU don’t support a film…millions of others the world over might…and they’re the ones casting the votes to make more just like it. That’s capitalism…that’s the American way.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 21, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Schmadrian, as much distaste as I have for everything you just pointed out, I can’t deny that it’s the sad, sad truth, like it or not. Poor quality entertainment is being offered and too many people are taking it, and even worse, saying, “Give me some more!”

Based on your words, I’m making a safe bet that you’re in the industry. That presumption being made, may I (with all due respect) ask a serious question?

When you look back at say, the last two summers (just as an example) which were heavily constituted of sequels, threequels, remakes, franchise films and television adaptations – doesn’t that make you take a moment to scratch your head and ask, “Oh, man, what the hell has happened to the movies? When did our level of entertainment sink to such a low level? Have we nothing of originality to offer the world anymore?”

All business and money aside, I’d be very curious to know how you feel about that.

Respectfully, LMHG

schmadrian on January 21, 2008 at 10:53 pm

Thanks for the question.

However…I have to dance around it a bit, provide some perspective, try to do justice to it, as it ties into why this site exists…although the diminution of movie palaces is not directly related to a reduction in the quality of movie-going as some here might be inclined to believe. (Again, another topic for another time.)

Thanks for the question.

However…I have to dance around it a bit, provide some perspective, try to do justice to it, as it ties into why this site exists…although the diminution of movie palaces is not directly related to a reduction in the quality of movie-going as some here might be inclined to believe. (Again, another topic for another time.)

Firstly, something I’ve noted recently is the almost proprietary regard that EVERYONE has for the movies. Visit comment sections, discussion boards and you’ll see what I mean: you’d think that everyone had a stake in the game. In films. When they don’t. They’re simply passing investors. They get no vote…save for spending their monies. And Lord knows that the ignorance about the industry is simply staggering. I’ve come to see that because of the abundance of ‘entertainment’ reportage on tv, in magazines, in newspapers, as well as the overwhelming amount of material available online, people have made the leap to this proprietary place. As if movies are ‘theirs’. Everyone has an opinion about a very complicated, very political industry…and yet most are unqualified opinions. There’s a clothier in northwestern NY state that says it best: ‘An educated consumer is our best customer.’ Except that the film biz doesn’t want you to be THAT educated. They’d prefer to keep you ignorant.

Secondly, as much as the film industry is built on art being created…whether or not we’re talking the cinematic equivalent of a midway corn-dog or one of Chef Bobby Flay’s exquisite feasts…it’s a business. And every business has its model. Its paradigms. And as I’ve said, it’s become SO expensive to bring just about anything to market, that Hollywood is hedging its bets. Which is why you see sequels. Franchises. Adaptations from all mediums. Because the more they can cater to a built-in market, the better the chance is that they can return a bigger dividend to their stockholders. That’s reality.

Now. Addressing your question. In regards to “When did our level of entertainment sink to such a low level?”, I’m reminded of something my mother told me years ago. (She grew up in the film industry; her brother ran, then owned a cinema when she was growing up.) She told me ‘People talk of the 'golden age’ of film. Poppycock! If you really took a look at how many bad films were made back then…‘ This would be the 30s and 40s. But the same can be said of the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s… What’s different? One, media is so much more pervasive now. We’re bombarded from every direction, with an endless assortment of topics, of choices. There’s so much more of a market to cater to. And in truth, people generally tend to want to go with something they’re familiar with. Not everyone. But most. This is why there’s a built-in insurance factor with the remakes, the retreads, the adaptations, etc. As well, society has become less genteel. Not necessarily less refined…but we don’t have the same barriers we did fifty years ago. (Yes, there’s a discussion in there, whether or not we 'should return’ to those values, those times, but I’ll nip it in the bud by making this observation: Generally, things don’t go backwards. Except in a time of crisis.) And with the recent advent of things like YouTube, there’s been an even greater ‘enabling’ of the masses, so that everyone has access, everyone can be heard. Therefore, much of the ‘bloom is off the rose’. Movies, filmmaking, Hollywood…it’s not seen as being the magic-machine it once was. I think that these factors can at least shed some light on why many people believe the level of entertainment has sunk so low…understanding of course that what YOU find sophomoric, someone else might hold dear to their heart.

“Have we nothing of originality to offer the world anymore?” Hmm… Well, first off, there are only so many basic stories to be told. Some say 7, some say 20+, some say 36. And all we can really do is fashion a variation on these core tales. But more to the point, we read, we view SO MANY MORE pieces of entertainment than our parents, than their parents did. So at a much earlier age than ever before, these days people can say “I know this story!” This is simply a result of the bombardment of material available. So it’s not that easy to come up with TRULY ‘original’ stories. In fact, what tends to get us glued to the tv or want to see a movie isn’t so much that something is ‘original’ than it is ‘originally told’. (I have to say here that one of the many reconciliations that North America will have in this century is its reception of what the world has to offer in terms of originality. More then two billion people -India and China- will be exerting themselves culturally…something our children and their children will have as a factor in their lives…a complete about-face from our experiences.) But remember, Hollywood is looking for not only a great story, but a property that has the best chance for success. This often turns out to be a mutually-exclusive situation. There are hundreds, thousands of scripts written each year that will never see the light of day because they never find their champion. In fact, there are myriad scripts that languish for DECADES. Because it makes more sense to the studio bean-counters to do a sequel or a remake than it does to invest $100 million in a property that might prove too esoteric.

“Oh, man, what the hell has happened to the movies?” What happened to the movies? Well, times changed. Society changed. People changed. I’m going to assume you’re 45+. Well, the world you lived in growing up, the 70s, is entirely different from the one someone today is growing up in. Ditto for the person growing up in the 50s. Nothing remains the same. And yes, movies have changed. But so has everything else. And there’s MORE of everything, too. So you notice the amount of dreck a lot more. And there’s a case to be made for the general quality of things having been diluted. (Not sure I agree with this, but there ya go.) But let me ask you this: you’re keying on movies, but are you inclined to ask the same question about tv? About music? About sports? About literature? Again, maybe this is an example of that ‘proprietary’ aspect I led off with. People are very protective about something that, in the end, is a commercial commodity. What HASN’T changed over the past quarter-century? Are YOU the same? LOL

I’d like to end this mini-missive by referencing the topic that got me up on this soapbox in the first place: the writers' strike. Beyond the revenue-sharing imbroglio, to me this is about respect. About studios finally placing the writer right up there where he or she should be, at the center of the filmmaking universe. Because yes, nothing gets built without this craftsperson, nothing gets scored without that composer, nothing gets edited without this editor, nothing gets portrayed without that actor…

…but until there’s a story, until the writer CREATES…there’s nothing.

Years ago, writers worked for the studios. They churned out material piece-meal like. Drones. The studios owned every part of the filmic process, including the actual distribution and exhibition arms. And writers ever since have been trying to get their due. Their due monies…and their due respect.

Believe me, writers hate crap as much as you do. But they’re not in control of what gets made. (Not that they ever will be.) It’s not like they’re only handing in crap, therefore that’s all that the studios can produce and release. They write what they’re contracted to write…and then all manner of Hell breaks loose. (Here’s where I’d launch into a further diatribe about ‘storytelling by committee’ and ‘too many cooks spoiling the broth’…but I don’t bend your ear to that extent today.) As I said before, the best thing you can do, if you’re sincere about wanting more ‘quality films on the screens’ is to make sure that when you discover a gem, you pay your money at the cinema…and spread the word to friends and co-workers. It’s fine to say ‘We’re not taking this crap anymore!’ but really, it’s not like there’s any other game in town. Studio revenues are up, what they’re doing SEEMS to be working…so why would they change things. Remember, it’s not like the car makers, regarding quality. (Or is it? I’ll let someone more informed in this area hold forth.)

Finally, as I alluded to somewhere in there, while YOU may not like something, and regard it as ‘crap’, someone with an equal vote might think it’s the bee’s knees. That’s the very essence of art. And commerce.

Funny, that. Maybe there’s a film in there somewhere.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 21, 2008 at 11:15 pm

Wow! As fedoozle is so fond of saying, “My brain hurts!”

You make some excellent points; like it or not, agree with it or not. I know I won’t change, nor will my opinion about today’s movies and TV, but your opinions and facts are respected, nonetheless.

The one area I will respond to is my own actions against Hollywood’s “recycling machine”. Over I year ago, I finally got so fed up with all of what I consider to be crap, that I vowed to only spend my time watching independents, foreign films, or at the very least, Hollywood productions that appeared to be fresh, new stories. In the last year, I’ve been to only about ten movies – none of them sequels, remakes or special effects blockbusters. In fact, the first film I saw in 2007 was David Lynch’s INLAND EMPIRE, which played in only ONE theater in all of New York City (IFC Center). Like typical Lynch, it was one of the most incomprehensible films I’d ever seen, and yet one of the best art films I’d ever seen! I walked out of the theater with a tremendous sense of satisfaction, having just witnessed something a little more bold and daring than the average Friday night fare.

I’ve continued to keep my vow, and I’m still a happier moviegoer for it.

This summer will likely present me with a dillema, though. I love, love love Steven Spielberg, but frankly, the thought of a fourth INDIANA JONES movie with Harrison Ford makes me ill. I want to stay loyal to a director I love and admire, but still…

I have a lot to think about.

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on January 22, 2008 at 12:20 am

I can’t believe they are complaining while people in Asia are basically enslaved in factories.

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 12:35 am

“I can’t believe they are complaining while people in Asia are basically enslaved in factories.”

Indeed. I can’t believe people actually live their lives at all, considering what injustices are foisted upon millions and millions of people world-wide. Until we’re all living in peace and harmony, we should be endeavouring to make better the lives of all of our globe-mates…and saying ‘No mas!’ to consumerism, to recreation, to entertainment.

Shame on us all.

(Now THERE’S a movie idea…)

Marcel on January 22, 2008 at 2:02 am

Fresh writers and new ideas would be wonderful. I stopped watching television years ago. Out of the 96 movies I saw last year, I think 15 were mainstream. I’d love to make the money they make- They can move to my town and work in my factory with me for $13.00 an hour and really see what hard times are. There has to be a writer out there who can write the oscar show- a few short jokes/and the nominees are/and the winner is…it’s not a big deal-people would appreciate a shortened, to the point telecast.

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 2:12 am

“ I’d love to make the money they make- ”

And just what kind of money do you suppose the average WGA writer makes?

Why do people begrudge anyone trying to make the most of their collective bargaining agreement? It’s not like they’re holding paupers hostage, so I really don’t get this animosity. This ‘Well, if they want to see hard times, have them come here and live MY life!’ mentality. It’s chincy, it’s small-minded, and most of all, it’s woefully ill-informed.

As for your comments about the Oscars… a) you clearly don’t understand what the complications are regarding the show and the strike, and b) people don’t want a ‘shortened, to the point telecast’. That’s called a news conference. And it’s not what the Oscars have ever been about. (And the advertisers…the ones who essentially pay for the broadcast…wouldn’t be interested.)

Ross Melnick
Ross Melnick on January 22, 2008 at 4:27 am

I would just like to voice my support for the writers, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck. In addition, this strike is hurting the entire industry, from makeup artists to grips and other below the line talent. Most of these people are not millionaires, but middle class workers trying to make a living and pay their bills.

As for content, the longer the strike goes on the more reality shows we’ll all be subjected to. I’m not sure how many more shows along the lines of “Are You Smarter Than A Garden Hose?” we need. Yes, movies and television shows could be better on average. Does taking writers out of the equation make them any better?

scorpio1949 on January 22, 2008 at 8:41 am

Gencin I totally agree with what you are doing. I watch about 2 network TV shows and that is it. My TV viewing has dropped that much.I too enjoy the indies and I am very selective about the mainstream films I go to. Several years ago I would see many MUST SEE mainstream films that I had to go see, then the quality went down (and according to what I read those several years, the box office went down too.)From what I read the theatre owners were concerned about this downturn…duh??? One thing that has changed over the years is that more films are now oriented towards 12 year olds. In the good old days films were aimed at the more mature adult
mentality. Yes times do change but I can watch those films over and over and still enjoy them… many of the new ones forget it. I can walk through my local chain video store and be hard put to find a film that I want to rent. I usually walk out with nothing or an idie.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 1:43 pm

David and gencin, I’m on your side. TV was dead for me so many years ago. The movies are on their way out for me, too.

While I do respect everyone’s opinion on these matters (whether I agree with them or not), I have to say in all honesty, that if the entire Hollywood system disappeared tomorrow, I would not care. For myself, I have a large enough movie and classic TV collection on DVD and video to keep me entertained and happy for the rest of my life.

JodarMovieFan on January 22, 2008 at 2:44 pm

I read somewhere that the strike will effect movie production for ‘09. That being the case, I guess I don’t really care about it either. I figure they’ll settle before then. On the tv front, I never watch much of broadcast programming anyway because of the commercials, even with DVR.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

I can’t even enjoy a movie that I like if it’s on television. The commercials and the pop-ups at the bottom of the screen make me impatient!

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 3:07 pm

“I have a large enough movie and classic TV collection on DVD and video to keep me entertained and happy for the rest of my life.”

OK. So it’s my turn to ask a direct, personal question: Do you view music and reading the same way? You’d be happy listening to everything from the past, content reading novels already published?

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 3:56 pm

I can give you a direct answer of YES. Sadly, I don’t do as much reading as I should, but there are so many books of the past that I haven’t read, that I’m sure there would be enough to keep me occupied for the rest of my life!

As for music, my answer would be HELL YES!!! I’m a (mostly) classic rock lover. Today’s music means very little to me. Since the decade began, I’ve purchased less than 10 new and current CDs, and they’re all from artists than have been around for decades (i.e. U2, Yes, Donald Fagen, Paul McCartney, etc.). The last two concerts I attended were The Police and Van Halen; both reunion tours.

I’ll be the first to proudly admit; I’m only 40 and I’m glued to the past. It was better.

“Call me a relic, call me what you will. Say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill. Today’s music ain’t got the same soul. I like that ol' time rock and roll!” – Bob Seger

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 4:15 pm

“’ll be the first to proudly admit; I’m only 40 and I’m glued to the past. It was better.”

Well, I’d laugh about here, but honestly, that makes me sad. Not just hearing it coming from you, but in general. I’m reminded of a friend of mine who was once asked ‘Don’t you want to listen to the music kids listen to today?’ and he replied ‘No, I only want to listen to the music I listened to when I was a kid.’

stares at screen

I can’t buy enough new music. I can’t keep up.
Not just ‘new’ stuff…but AMAZING stuff.
I’d trade just about all ‘old’ movies for new ones. (I’m not saying either is better or worse.)
Same with novels.
And within limits, music, too.
I was regularly seeing 200 movies at cinemas each year.
And purchasing 10 CDs a month.
Reading a new novel a week (my passion is debut novels by female writers)
Magazines, newspapers, everything.
I can’t imagine clinging to the past.
Can’t imagine the ‘comfort’ this brings.
Sounds like ‘Groundhog Day’ to me, in extremis.

Whatever floats yer boat. Whatever makes you happy.

I do have to say this much: Over the years, taking part in numerous discussions on seemingly endless boards, when I encounter someone who either says there’s no good new music or movies out there, it’s usually attributable to one or more of the following:

1) They don’t try. They’re comfortable where they are, they can’t be bothered…so really, the issue isn’t the availability of great product…it’s their indifference.
2) Their geographical location re: movies at a cinema. Granted, if you’re not in a major center, or a college, then you’re probably not going to be able to see ‘everything’ out there that’s of quality. Still, there’s DVD. However, I’m going to add onto this possibility #1.
3) Their age. Past a certain age…for some it’s 30, for some 40…people become apathetic regarding new input. Life is hard. To make the effort to actively SEARCH OUT great entertainment isn’t a priority. It’s part of what I refer to as ‘the hardening’. You lose your physical flexibility about the age of 30…and being comfortable becomes a priority…comfort with what’s familiar. This is why I can usually peg people on this board as to their age. Not so much because of clues, them giving away indicators by way of mentioning what they’ve seen over the years, but this…well, this intransigence. Obdurateness. Intractability. (This isn’t to say that ‘the young’ aren’t guilty of this. They are. But for them, you can at least chalk it up to ignorance. As opposed to bloody-minded, informed inflexibility.)

Here’s my belief in a nutshell: If you can’t find at least two movies a month to see, at least two CDs a month to purchase, at least two novels a month to read…all NEW…then you’re simply not sufficiently interested in finding them. You’ve placed more of an emphasis on the familiar, and the comfort that it brings, that exposing yourself to invigourating entertainment. You’d prefer to cocoon…and to carp.

Blaming the studios, blaming the record companies, blaming the publishing houses for what anyone lazily terms a dearth of good material is fatuous at worst, and sad at the very least.

Oh, and for the record, I’m older than you are.

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Regarding the impact of a prolonged WGA strike…not that the commenters on this thread care one way or the other…

Every studio has a backlog of production. So we won’t see the real effects until ‘down the road’.

Producers who are non-signatories of the WGA are not subject to the strike; they can hire non-WGA writers. Which is why it’s great to be a non-WGA member about now.

But if this strike goes on long enough, never mind the ‘collateral damage’ done, there may very well come a point where production…for all intents and purposes…grinds to a halt.

Again, not that anyone commenting on this thread seems to care. Which is fascinating, given that this is a site about cinema treasures…and without the cinematic fare being shown… Hmm.

“If a movie palace has no product to show…is it still a palace…?”

bruceanthony on January 22, 2008 at 5:36 pm

Im over 50 and I will take classic Hollywood any day of the week.I still go to the movies once a week but the experience of going has declined over the years. It is left to the indepenents to make quality films on low budgets where the Hollywood studios turn out big budget popcorn movies that would have been the B films in a earlier era. The greatest concentration of quality films was produced in 1939 and 1940 at the height of the studio system before WW11. For me the old Hollywood died in 1970 the year that produced “Patton” and many big budget bombs that brought on the great Hollywood depresstion. Every studio lost millions with the exception of Disney and the average budget would not exceed 1.5 million with few exceptions in the early 1970’s. Columbia moved out of its historic lot and moved into the Warner Bros lot to share expenses and renamed the lot the Burbank Studios. The great Metro-Goldywn-Mayer sold off its backlots and nearly went out of business.The 1970’s produced greatest quantity of quality films in the New Hollywood that has yet to be topped. People in the industry should remember this time when people were layed off,production budgets slashed and star salaries slashed. Many stars that were making 1 million per film were now reduced to 50-200 Thousand per film and percentage of the gross. Big Budget films of the 1960’s cost anywhere from 6-20 million to produce. The “Godfather” one of the biggest budget films of 1972 cost only 6 million and even then Paramount balked at the cost. The success of “Jaws” and “Star Wars” changed the industry into the popcorn blockbuster mentality that we still see today. I have enjoyed many of the popcorn movies produced but miss the quality of Adult themed movies produced in quantity since the 1970’s.I like many of the fine actors today but miss the actor-personality stars of the Golden Era such as Cary Grant,Bette Davis,Spencer Tracy,Katharine Hepburn,James Stewart,Irene Dunne,Henry Fonda,Judy Garland,Fred Astaire and many others. Some of the movies I have liked recently are Atonement, American Gangster,Michael Clayton,Juno and the Waterhorse. Thank God for Turner Classics where you can see great quality American films on a regular basis. The industry should get together and settle the stike that makes ecomomic sense. Many Americans are on the verge of loosing there homes, our country is on the verge of a recession and we are at war. Its hard for the public to sympathize with either side since they are a well paid group of people.brucec

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Well, in the end, ‘the public’ has little to do with it. We’re not talking about a public utility here. And Hollywood, if nothing else, is a union town. Period. So although it’s causing hardship, that’s the arena created by EVERYONE. (i.e. you don’t cross picket lines.)

As for hearkening back to ‘the old days’…well I’ve always said I’d trade almost all of my nostalgia (95+%) for ‘new’. But then having a fresh mind comes in handy in my trade.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Brucec, I raise a glass to you! And yes, thank Heaven for Turner Classic Movies. That and TV Land are the only cable stations I need in my life.

Your memories are admirable, especially the New Hollywood of the 1970’s. I’ll presume you read the book, EASY RIDERS RAGING BULLS. It’s said that that entire new era came to a crashing end when Michael Cimino’s HEAVEN’S GATE not only bombed at a historic level, but also caused United Artists to merge with MGM.

And even still, I have a lot more admiration for a director like Michael Cimino, who put his creativity, his passion, and yes, his ass on the line for a project he felt very committed to, than I would say a director like Sam Raimi who directed a worthless story like SPIDERMAN 3, which made a killing at the box office during its opening weekend last summer. It’s just a shame that Cimino’s career never really recovered after that debacle.

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on January 22, 2008 at 8:31 pm

There is plenty of product for the next year for theaters..I dont care about the strike other than it is great for buisness.

schmadrian on January 22, 2008 at 8:46 pm

“I dont care about the strike other than it is great for buisness.”


OK. I’ll bite. How is it ‘good for business’?

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 22, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Y'all didn’t get the memo? Hollywood is run by MBA’s – not creative artists. Those dudes only care about THE BOTTOM LINE. Writers are nothing more than cattle nowadays. Darn near every “screenplay” that makes it on screen is written in board meetings. The people who actually give a damn about QUALITY are not the people who have the almighty power of the GREENLIGHT.

So…even after they settle this thing…the quaility issues will still be in effect. And, of course, if trolls like Mark Cuban have their way, there will be no more movie theatres anyway. We’ll all be watching the same crap on our ULTRA-HD, MEGA DIGITAL 145 inch TV’s!

Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on January 22, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Since the strike theater ticket sales have been up every week.All reruns no late shows for a while… let it keep going!

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 9:20 pm

With no late shows, I say bring back the late movie and things like “Fright Night” and “Chiller Theater”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah!


Michael Furlinger
Michael Furlinger on January 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm

by no late shows i mean tonight show ,conan!

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm

I knew what you meant.

Marcel on January 22, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Thanks David Burris and Loves movies/Hates Going-This past weekend I took a friend to the Lafayette Theater in Suffern, N.Y. I sat in awe at this old movie palace and tryed to imagine a time when it was like that every time you go to the movies! Even “Mad Money” begun to look good there. (I went to see the theater!)

JSA on January 23, 2008 at 12:39 am

Adding to the comment by Chris, the apparent lack of artistic merit within the current regime at the entertainment-industrial complex has led to a situation where few, if any, risks are taken. Can you imagine someone trying to pitch “2001: A Space Odyssey” today? Or “Apocalypse Now”? “Chinatown”? To run a business you have to be profitable, you have to be cost-conscious, specially when your product costs $ 100 M or more, but when it’s done at the expense of the product sooner or later you’re going to lose business. I’m sure there are talented writers out there with great stories.


tjo on January 23, 2008 at 2:16 am

I deeply resent some of the claims of loves moves, hates going. His claims are not valid against the screenwriters. He is confusing the decisions made by the heads of media conglomerates with striking WGA writers who receive 4 cents per copy for each DVD sold legally. The four cent royalty was agreed upon 20 years ago, and has been not increased since that time. These writers are not respected by their employers in any way, evidenced by their refusal to bargain in good faith with their union employees. The executives of the media conglomerates are unwilling to share one cent of the newfound internet advertising revenues, whose income adds several billion dollars to the bottom line every fiscal year.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 2:58 am

“…but when it’s done at the expense of the product sooner or later you’re going to lose business.”

Aye, there’s the rub: they’re not. Revenues continue to rise.

“I’m sure there are talented writers out there with great stories.”

There are. Always have been, always will be.

scorpio1949 on January 23, 2008 at 11:02 am

I work in another field but I see what the conglomerates do when they buy companies. They buy them, use the name, milk the hell out of the assets, don’t care about the employees…they are just a commodity that can be replaced. And we wonder why the quality is so dismal? MGM is a classic story of how a company was gutted and gutted and gutted. Thank God we have as many films from the past as we do. It was only when they found out there was a market for them that they started to preserve them…up till then they just let them set and deteriorate…how many films are lost due to these people over the years? I’m sorry but I have more sympathy with the writers than the other side…and we are not talking big amounts of money here…pennies on the many dollars they are taking in…come on.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 1:29 pm

I sometimes think that part of our education system should be a sizable chunk dedicated to understanding what it means to have a society predicated on free-market, capitalistic, democracy. Because reading peoples' comments, hearing what they bemoan leads me to believe they really don’t have much comprehension of what the ramifications are of this environment they’re constantly casting their votes within, votes of course, cast with their almighty dollar. It’s sort of like people having sex…and being aghast when there’s a pregnancy. And as critical as I can be…very, for those not paying attention…I can appreciate how shocking it must be to take a look at the ‘dark’ side of our world…a world of free-market capitalism…when there are plant closings, when there are lay-offs…or in the case of this thread’s discussion, the diminution of quality in films today as a result of conglomerates taking over, of studios making movies with the ‘business concerns’ holding more sway than the ‘artistic concerns’.

With the ‘proprietary’ viewpoint so many people have about films…and I’m reminded of a rabid sports fan who feels it’s his right to hold forth about his team’s back-office practices…the disappointment is accentuated. People bemoan the closing of movie palaces. They bemoan the introduction of multiplexes. They bemoan how there’s nothing worth seeing at the cinema, how there’s nothing worth seeing on tv, how it’s all come down to money, money, money…

But hey; this is the world you live in, this is the world you’re actively involved in creating by casting your votes with each and every greenback, each and every day.

It’s said that the two truly taboo subjects in Life, in terms of what we’re NOT taught by our parents, in our schools, are Sex…and Money. And it’s ironic that while the former gets all the attention, it’s the latter that actually has the biggest impact on us. That is, our silence, our lack of understanding of how this world of ours works, how just about everything is about money…or is predominently influenced by money.

Ignorance, denial…people are free to live with those aspects reigning over their lives. That’s freedom of choice for you. But what I find sad is that so many people have opinions that are almost entirely predicated on emotions and bias-through-slim-experience. And maybe this is where this proprietary tendency on film-goers gets really interesting. Because unlike the rabid sports fan, who can cite the team’s history, can rattle off player stats, can even tell you about salaries…the average person holding forth about the WGA strike or The State of Cinema Today or Things Were So Much Better In The Old Days can’t. They can tell you what movies they love. They can tell you what stars they wish were still around. But by-and-large, they have no understanding of how a movie gets to their cinema, from the moment of inspiration for the writer, to the importance to the theatre of the concession stand’s revenues.

A love of an activity doesn’t mean you’re automatically imbued with knowledge of how it works. I encourage anyone who rails at movies today to take some time and actually learn about the industry. Perhaps this knowledge won’t make the current fare any more palatable. But you might actually find yourself better equipped to deal with it…and who knows; it might prove to be a primer for other aspects of Life, for this free-market capitalistic system we all love…and hate.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 23, 2008 at 4:26 pm

Schmadrian, much of what you say probably has metit, especially if you’re inside the business. But there’s one thing you should remember about Hollywood as a business; like anything else, it’s about buyers and sellers. The industry being the seller, and the moviegoer being the buyer. Regardless of all the ins and outs of how a movie is brought to the screen, if the buyer is continuously unsatisfied with what he/she is seeing on the screen, eventually the buyer will stop going to the movies, stop renting the DVDs, and turn off the TV. When you get enough buyers doing this, it inevitably hurts the seller…unless the seller figures out how to improve their product.

Granted, that’s a very black and white way to look at things, but as a “buyer” myself, I’m not required to take other considerations into account. If I don’t like what’s being sold, I’m not going to come back…period.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 4:47 pm

“When you get enough buyers doing this, it inevitably hurts the seller…unless the seller figures out how to improve their product.”

This is the point you’re missing. Or can’t hear.

The ‘seller’ is NOT hurting.

And really, there is no ‘other seller’. Not if we’re talking about the film industry, The Studios, Hollywood. (Unless we’re going to discuss foreign films…and your category of commenter has essentially pressed ‘Pass’ on just about everything…so that discussion’s moot.)

This isn’t like the car industry. There are no other ‘viable’ sellers. The analogy here is that you’re dissatisfied with modern cars…you drive an old DeSoto…and quite frankly, the car industry isn’t bothered about selling to you. Because it’s got a kajillion other customers.

So. You stay home with your library and you’re happy…and the film industry finds new buyers and provides new things to sell. You both get what you want. Right…?

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 23, 2008 at 4:59 pm

The seller WILL hurt, eventually. Sooner or later, people are going to wake up and stop wasting their time and money on all the garbage. Unfortunately, given what people generally are (and don’t get me started on THAT!), it’s going to take a long, long time! However, it only needs to start with one person. I hope it’s me.

I’m moving on to other topics now. Be well.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 23, 2008 at 6:26 pm

The seller won’t be hurting at all…instead, the seller has a long term plan to cut the middleman – or, as we call it, GOING TO THE MOVIES – and deliver his product straight to the buyer’s living rooms where he will make more money.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 23, 2008 at 6:30 pm

“Can you imagine someone trying to pitch ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ today? Or ‘Apocalypse Now’? ‘Chinatown’?”

THAT is the problem. In this day and age, EVERYTHING that generates from the big studio machine has to be pitched…unless your last name is Spielberg, Lucas, Howard, Zemeckis or Coppola. I sure would LOVE to know how J.J. Abrams snuck the new phenomenon that is “Cloverfield” under the noses of Paramount execs!

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 6:49 pm

“The seller won’t be hurting at all…instead, the seller has a long term plan to cut the middleman – or, as we call it, GOING TO THE MOVIES – and deliver his product straight to the buyer’s living rooms where he will make more money.”

To a large extent, yes. (I know this should bring longislandmovies into the discussion…)

The paradigm is shifting. Has been since tv came on the scene, was accelerated when home video was introduced, moreso with DVDs, and now, with advents such as Apple’s online renting pushing the envelope all the more…

In time, the 12% or so of their overall revenues that the studios currently rake in from theatrical distribution will shrink to probably around 5%. (But a warning: you can’t even extrapolate here that this would automatically mean that theatrical revenues would shrink…more that the overall revenue pie would have gotten larger…as it will…but the cinema ticket sales part will be a smaller and smaller slice of this pie.)

Cinema viewing of movies will always be here. We’ll ALWAYS have movie theatres. (Just fewer of them.) But eventually, as new generations are born, their default for seeing films will NOT be ‘going to the movies’. That, as much as the luddites will scoff at it, is the truth. Just as those born around 1910 had cinemas as they source of entertainment (along with radio), and their grandchildren had begun the switch to tv and 45s for theirs, so will their great-grandchildren be doing things differently AS THEIR PRIME CHOICE: watching currently-released films and listening to new music on personal devices, directly downloaded from source. (A different ‘middleman’.)

The Studios don’t care about cinemas. They care about selling product. How it’s consumed is not a priority for them…as long as the revenue stream continues. And grows…which it is. Constantly.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 6:54 pm

“THAT is the problem. In this day and age, EVERYTHING that generates from the big studio machine has to be pitched…unless your last name is Spielberg, Lucas, Howard, Zemeckis or Coppola. I sure would LOVE to know how J.J. Abrams snuck the new phenomenon that is "Cloverfield” under the noses of Paramount execs!"

EVERYONE has to get ‘approval’. Even those names you mention. Unless they’re going to self-finance.

As for ‘Cloverfield’… How? How did Abrams do it? His reputation…his track-record…and now, as we’re seeing how profitable the film is turning out to be, his golden touch. Pure and simple.

It sounds like you’re confusing what YOU consider to be quality entertainment (and I’m assuming you don’t feel ‘Cloverfield’ fits into this category) and box-office success. All that matters to a businessperson…within reason…is viability. Not whether the product is admirable.

ceasar on January 23, 2008 at 8:14 pm

What has been interesting about the WGA Strike thus far; it has been affecting the tv industry. The writers got the Golden Globes cancelled and some are already speculating about this year’s Oscars telecast as well. But the next casuality in this strike are going to be tv soap operas now. Now there is talk of a wavier for the Grammy awards. But the speculation has been over the oscars.
I’ve seen the trailor to CloverFeild and I can’t wait to see it. It has been compared to the BlairWitch Project which was a big hit in the summer of ‘99. What makes the Cloverfield interesting it’s shot in digital video and u don’t see the monster. That’s the mystery of the trailor.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 8:59 pm

caesar: You DO see the monster. About five minutes' worth all told. Enough for it to leave an impression. (And wish for more…even though it’s not a ‘monster film’, it’s a love story with a monster as the motivating factor to the story.)

ceasar on January 23, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Now that’s what I call an orignal plot. A monster motivating love story. So cool. Now in December,around Christmas day of this year JJ Abrams is going to have Star Trek come out.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 9:13 pm


My usual comeback to someone complaining about the lack of originality in films is to offer up the fact that all of Shakespeare’s plays were ‘adaptations’.

Funny how no one minded then, or now.

It’s all in the execution. The most conventional meal can be memorable…if the execution is right.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 23, 2008 at 10:03 pm

“listening to new music on personal devices”

Schmadrian, I digress from Hollywood for a moment to dedicate this personal tidbit strictly for your amusement…

Despite all of today’s music device technologies, it may make you laugh to know that amongst all of that, I STILL have many, many records (that’s right everybody, I said RECORDS!) that I still enjoy playing on equipment that (believe it or not) is only a few years old. Also, one of the beauties of having lived in NYC is the vast majority of record shops where you can still buy classic stuff in great condition (and of course, there’s Ebay, too). Sure, you can download The Beatles Abbey Road off the web, but oh what fun it can still be to pull out the ol' vinyl and gently start playing Side 1.

But as you said, you’re a bit older than me. You still remember.

JodarMovieFan on January 23, 2008 at 10:54 pm

I saw Cloverfield and am wondering if exhibitors were instructed to play the movie extremely loud. It was perfectly presented in DP at a THX cert theater, my fav BowTie plex, and as a result, my ears were ringing for hours after the show. On Sunday, I took my niece to see Alvin and the Chipmunks, at a different theater, and Cloverfield was just ending and you could hear the exit music all the way to the entrance to the multiplex. They need to issue audio warnings about the sound levels.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 23, 2008 at 11:24 pm

“EVERYONE has to get ‘approval’. Even those names you mention. Unless they’re going to self-finance.”

Nope. I live here (Hollywood). Those dudes do what they do with ZERO studio interference. All the MBA’s do is cut the check for the cost. If you think for one sec that they have to PITCH their projects, then I’ve got some beachfront property in Kansas to sell you!

Lowly writers, on the other hand, are a different bag altogether.

schmadrian on January 23, 2008 at 11:39 pm

“Those dudes do what they do with ZERO studio interference. ”


Maybe Spielberg and Lucas. And less than a handful of others. If you think it’s THAT easy for everyone who’s had success…then I’ve got some great screenplay investment opportunities for you. The trades…and their two-tin-cans-and-a-string equivalents…are rife with stories detailing how the path to production is anything but smooth sailing for just about anyone.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 24, 2008 at 7:05 am

Did I say everyone? I named specific names. Please read before flaming!

schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 10:38 am

Chris: I read your post. My response clearly indicates that. And I apologize if you perceived it as a ‘flame’. In that spirit, thanks for the Kansas reference. : )

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm

My original statement…in case you missed it:

“EVERYTHING that generates from the big studio machine has to be pitched…unless your last name is Spielberg, Lucas, Howard, Zemeckis or Coppola.”

So stupid of us…we basically make the same gosh-darned point and we’re arguing abou it! Blame it on testosterone!

schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Shall we collaborate?!? LOL

‘Cinema Treasures Films announces the production of a film based on exchanges on their site…’

ceasar on January 24, 2008 at 4:56 pm

Last night I watch Dennis Miller on the O'Reilly fact and he got critical of the TineslTown Establishment. He made some real good points. Like there is a disconnect between the Hollywood Establishment and the public. He pointed out that Tinseltown frowns at the public as cattle. Becouse they think the movie going public is stupid. He attacked them on the fact that they take things to seriously. He expressed the fact he would love to see old fashion B-movies again. But he and Bill did agree that most of the public didn’t see the recent oscar nominated films like Atonement,Country of Old Men and Micheal Clayton. Now Micheal Clayton flopped in its first weekend realease in fact.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Ceasar, I never once listened to one thing Dennis Miller ever had to say. But those comments are DEAD ON! Hollywood does treat the public like cattle, and the barn house is the neighborhood amusement park multiplex, complete with overpriced food, endless commercials and your annoying cell phone user! Hollywood does think it’s general audience is stupid, because for most people (and please, I’m not saying ALL!), a good quality film is a title with the number 3 at the end of it.

I suppose when you really get down to it, Hollywood must be more clever than we think; they produce garbage for an audience they consider stupid, the audience is more than happy to pay for the garbage, and Hollywood gets rich off of it! Wow! That’s brilliant!

I saw MICHAEL CLAYTON at the Hampton Arts Theater in Westhampton Beach the weekend it opened and I loved it! I didn’t have to wait until it was nominated to stop and think that maybe there was something worth watching.

ceasar on January 24, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Micheal Clayton has rereleased I believe its coming out tommorrow. I like to see it by the way. But Miller hit the points dead on. Right now everyone wondering if there will be an Oscar telecast this year becouse of the WGA strike. I can tell I watched the last new episode of Criminal Minds last night. I expect it to run into repeats now.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Hey, don’t worry if we don’t see the Oscars on TV. All you have to do is watch some cheap, second rate beauty pageant or dig up some old reruns of the Donny & Marie variety show, and it’ll pretty much be the same thing!

schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 5:41 pm

“…amusement park multiplex, complete with overpriced food, endless commercials and your annoying cell phone user!”

1) This is a function of economics on the part of the cinema owner/operators, NOT Hollywood. Increasing land costs meant that movie palaces with single screens weren’t viable. And the more films you can show in one location, the more bang you get for your real estate. A simple matter of economic survival.

2) Food is a major source of income for the cinema owner/operators, NOT Hollywood. longislandmovies can best fill you in on the ratios of revenues from each.

3) Cinema owner/operators have been neglectful in providing a proper environment for movie-goers, and have, like many in society in other areas, abrogated their responsibilities. The cell-phone issue is just the tip of the iceberg.

I bring these points up because in most conversations people conflate the product (Hollywood) with the ‘dealer’ (cinemas) and for what, sixty years, they’ve been separate entities. So if we’re going to discuss various issues, please; let’s make the distinctions…?

ceasar on January 24, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Schmadarin you hit right on the button. I can tell you the local old multiplex here Pemberton Cinema 4 was abused by both Regel Entertainment Group and Village Entertainment. For one thing both would advertize a coming release trailor and that movie didn’t open that weekend. Another fact is both cinema operators didn’t catch the fact that the local teen market have been shifting to the better cinemas in Jackson Metro area. Village didn’t take care of the property and both operators held over black films for months at a time. Audience descrimantion. Now when the box cinemas returned Regel Entertainment didn’t consider builing a brand new cinema like it did in Clinton,which is thirty miles away.Now Village Entertainment got into a feud with CBL Associates who owned the mall and result they closed it becouse of high rent issues. Now the leaders of this community are learning that high end cinema operators don’t want to build one here becouse of small size population.

Chris Utley
Chris Utley on January 24, 2008 at 6:09 pm

I agree with schmadrian. It’s both their faults. Hollywood’s been making crap and theatre owners have built crappy places to show the crap in. Meanwhile, REAL theatres (cough – NATIONAL – cough) are cut, carved and turned into Banana Republics.

Too many decision makers on both ends who love MONEY more than MOVIES.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I just re-read my comment above and I do not directly associated Hollywood with the multiplex. I merely associate the analogy of the multiplex as the “barn” to Hollywood’s treatment of the public as “cattle”.


schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 6:25 pm

“I merely associate the analogy of the multiplex as the "barn” to Hollywood’s treatment of the public as “cattle”.

Sorry. I’m prickly today, due to a 77 year old father who can’t seem to accept responsibility for his own health. (Life-time smoker.) So if this offends…

Nobody is FORCING anyone to go see a movie. So nobody is being CATTLE-DRIVEN. This mindset is, in itself, an abrogation of YOUR responsibility for YOUR entertainment. You make it sound like Hollywood has these electric prods, that movie-goers are corralled… Come on! Is this how you think of yourself? That you have no freedom of choice, that you’re no better than a cud-chewing bovine, easily forced into a confined space at the whim of the ‘rancher’?!?

‘Cattle’ in the medical system, OK.
‘Cattle’ in the education system, fine.
‘Cattle’ in the political system, yup.
But regarding movies?!?

In the end, you’re not beef. You have a mind. You have a voice. (Not just to complain with.)

But let’s just take a look at this ‘mulitplex-as-barn’ reference: would you feel the same way if instead of dismissing most of the film fare offered, you LOVED most of it? If you didn’t have the complaints you do about what’s being shown in theatres?

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Okay, is it just me, or does anyone else have a sudden craving for a thick, juicy HAMBURGER after all of this analogy? Medium rare with spicy curly fries…mmmm!

I’ve stated many times before that I have stoped going to multiplexes and the movies almost alltogether for the exact reasons I’ve previously bitched about. That being said, I won’t waste anybody’s time repeating it all.

Take care of your dad.

schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Well, hang on…seeing as we’re not really talking about what this thread’s supposed to be about… Tell me again -aside from the films offered- why you find multiplexes so unappealing…what you’d do to remedy the situation…and how you’d PREFER movies to be shown.

If you can pull yourself away from that burger…
: )

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 6:59 pm

Schadrian, I have to say that I’m glad we both have a sense of humor. I’ve seen (read) people get genuinely ugly on these sites. I mean, for what??? This is all supposed to be fun, right?

Try thinking of movie theaters like eating establishments. If you were to go to a fancy restaurant, you would likely find a more considerate, civilized manner of people to share the environment with. This is the experience I’ve often found when I go to a movie at a small neighborhood theater (what’s left of them anyway). This is why throughout the year, I try to fill up on movies during the fall at a small theater in Westhampton Beach, Long Island; better films and queiter surroundings. Now, if you were to go to your local fast food restaurant, you would likely find a louder, more inconsiderate, uncivilized manner of people to share the environment with. This is the experience I’ve often found when I used to go to multiplexes. These “theaters” are run without any control or management whatsoever. The place is like one free-for-all amusement park, complete with video games and widescreen TVs. For some, this may be okay. For me, it’s a death sentence. The only way I can remedy the situation is by avoiding them whenever possible. I do.

schmadrian on January 24, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Love movies – hate going!:

That means that it’s actually the people who frequent these places that are the ‘cause’ of your dislike with the multiplex experience.
Their behaviour.
And I’m willing to bet they’re of a certain demographic.

I think this situation is primarily a result of the ‘cachet’ of films having been removed, the ‘going out to see a movie’ having had its specialness diminished over the years. Whereas our parents went to the cinema and it was like going to the theater is now, today’s ‘kids’ don’t see anything special about being in an auditorium…except for a chance to be kids.
(Have to say that again, this is where the cinema owner/operators have fallen down on the job. I’m willing to bet their indifference to what many complain about has driven away as many ticket-buyers as bad film choice has.)
And cry as some might about the little boxes they call multiplex auditoriums now, I doubt that the problem would disappear if films were all being seen in single-screen palaces. Bad behaviour is NOT the arena it’s taking place in. (I’d be curious to hear about general behaviour at the Ziegfeld in NYC.)
I’m sure those reading can get where I’m going with this, whose responsibility it is that bad behaviour has become commonplace. (Hint: Just as it’s not the cops' fault there’s crime, it’s not the cinema owner/operators' that there’s bad behaviour.)

I have to ask: If the boorish behaviour wasn’t commonplace, would you be frequenting multiplexes more often?

(I have to say, your answer wasn’t what I was expecting. Not the standard response I’m used to getting.)

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Yes, if the boorish behavior did not exist, I WOULD frequent my choice of films at multiplexes more often. I mean, come on, what’s not to like about stadium-stytle seating and cup holders?

But, alas, life is not that kind. So I settle for cheap, uncomfortable seats for a little peace and quiet.

Despite the fact that it’s a huge place, I’ve found that people are generally well-behaved and considerate at the Ziegfeld. Perhaps it’s something about the history and the “grandioso” of the place. Who knows? It’s a phenomenal screen, though! I saw the final cut of BLADE RUNNER there last October. Wow!

ceasar on January 24, 2008 at 7:38 pm

As for me I try to find the limited release films to see. Like I like to see Antonment and the Spanish film The Orphanage.
Bad behavior in the cinema is so distracting. If not annoying.

Eric Friedmann
Eric Friedmann on January 24, 2008 at 10:17 pm

For me, I try to go to the movies at the oddest hour possible, when there will be fewer people in the theater. Example: Summer 2005, my wife and I went to see Spielberg’s WAR OF THE WORLDS on a beautiful sunny Saturday, first show of the day. While others were outdoors on the beach or whatever, we were the only ones in the theater – a private screening to ourselves! That never happened before and it will probably never happen again. Oh, but it was so fantastic!

TheaterBuff1 on January 25, 2008 at 9:23 am

Being as I reside in Philadelphia, PA, where the union stranglehold on this town I feel it’s totally fair to say has reached the Brownshirt level, and with no end in sight to this waxing vice-grip as of yet, it’s hard for me to feel real sympathetic towards the writers striking out in Hollywood — most particularly if it could end up preempting this year’s Oscars (2008)! I mean, talk about taking the “Rolling Darkness” movement to an all new low! But I’m to the point of conceding that anything such as that is possible now. For I believe that many Americans have crossed the line now from having their fair and reasonable demands met to wanting to see their jealous emotions placated. And that’s how the WGA strike looks to me.

To be sure, the role the writer plays is vital to all Hollywood productions. So most certainly those who fill this role should be compensated fairly. And if it requires collective bargaining to achieve this goal, so be it.

But is that what’s at the heart of this strike?

I think not.

Rather, I think it’s been discovered that collective bargaining makes it possible to get something for nothing, and that that is the way in which collective bargaining is being abused now. For yes, we all have cost-of-living expenses that we want to see met. But whatever happened to good old fashioned giving something worthwhile in exchange for this? That is what I so miss in this country now. For I feel here’s a classic case where if the demands being made get met, this country’s not going to be any better for it. It will only ratchet our once great nation down even darker. As I say, the “Rolling Darkness” movement… Now it’s come for the Oscars.

schmadrian on January 25, 2008 at 11:10 am

TheaterBuff1: Well said.

I believe that this strike has a lot more at its core than the salient issues being bargained. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that these unspoken aspects have far greater relevance; the items on the table are just expressions of the primary aspect, that of respect.

And I’m not sure you can take decades of grievances and sort them out in negotiations. Mindsets are terrible things to try to change during arm-wrestling.

The collateral damage being done by this strike is depressing.

As for the Oscars…well…meh.

TheaterBuff1 on January 26, 2008 at 7:43 am

What comes to mind in cases like this is that movie SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION (also called NEVER GIVE AN INCH), and I truly hope somebody can find a way to put that principle to work in this instance. Otherwise, I truly do have to wonder where this country will go from here. For if the striking writers believe their personal grievances are so important that it should derail the Oscars, it will be blatantly clear to me that they have fully lost sight of what’s most important. For come on, the Oscars, nothing should upstage that in my views!

Looking to just a few years back, I remember how very much the Oscars meant to me right after President Bush sent our troops to Iraq. I truly needed something of assurance in that moment to let me know that our country hadn’t gone completely nuts, and the Oscars presentation that year did not let me down. Rather, it served as a very important anchor for me, something I’ll always remember.

So yes, given that, I would say that if the writer’s strike upstages the Oscars this year it will constitute a major bellwether that our country at this point is beyond all hope, and without the need of a successor nation to displace it, as traditionally had been the case when things like this happened.

To date, there has never been a year that after the annual Academy Awards Presentation was over I did not feel a strong sense that our country is still on a positive course. So if it does get preempted this year it will really ring home that all that has now swiftly changed.

First they came for the movie palaces, phasing them out one by one, and so many didn’t say anything. Now they’re coming for the Oscars. Putting it more accurately, can you draw a line from Point A through Point B to determine what Point C will be? That’s how major I consider this to be.

schmadrian on January 26, 2008 at 11:21 am


Hold up: you’re equating a television broadcast of what is essentially a self-indulgent, over-produced display of showboat-preening on the parts of (admittedly talented) ego-driven stars for the benefit of a cannibalistic, sensation-gorging, false-idol-worshipping public with something of nationalistic importance?!?

Now THIS…this is the stuff of great satire.

‘Impassioned film-goer and flag-waver, seeing that a Hollywood strike is about to derail their beloved Oscar broadcast, decides to take things into their own hands. Bombastic mayhem ensues, shining a satirical light on the true state of their nation.’

TheaterBuff1 on January 27, 2008 at 7:17 am

No, Schmadrian, there’s something higher about the annual Academy Awards Presentations that you’re obviously missing, and that always has been. Perhaps it’s due to the “whole world is watching” factor, I don’t know. But there’s something very special about the Oscars that consistently makes it stand out from all other award-giving ceremonies.

Everything you’ve said about the Oscars I don’t deny for a second. But I’ll tell you this, above and beyond all that, in all the different award ceremonies I’ve seen I have never seen a case where the awards given were farer than the Oscars. The Emmies, Grammies, Golden Globe, Peoples' Choice, Tonys, etc., etc., etc., all strike me as being rigged. And at the personal level I’m 100% sure they are. But to date I have yet to witness that ever being the case with the Oscars. If by chance any of the awards given at the Oscars are rigged, then I can only suggest they’re rigged to ensure that the most deserving receive them. Otherwise, I would’ve stopped watching the Oscars years ago, just as I did all the other awards shows I just named for that very feeling. In brief, the Oscars — unlike other awards presentations — consistently retains credibility year after year after year. And yes, I DO place a very high premium on that.

If we trash that truth that comes through despite the egos, we trash this country. It’s that simple.

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