During a panel held at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were asked about what the future of movies could look like. They didn’t have such a rosy outlook. For one, they believe the theatrical experience will soon take on a Broadway model, with expensive tickets and films that play for over a year. This would lead to a major increase in video-on-demand content in which niche genres would skip a theatrical release.
With blockbusters having such hefty budgets, we’re only a few $250 million flops at the box office away from this change occurring. Spielberg says, “There’s eventually going to be a big meltdown. There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen of these mega-budgeted movies go crashing into the ground and that’s going to change the paradigm again.” He added, “You’re gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.”
People looking for more adult fare won’t be able to see such films theatrically, as this content will shift towards debuting on television. Lucas says, “You’re going to end up with fewer theaters, bigger theaters with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today, or a football game. It’ll be an expensive thing. … (The movies) will sit in the theaters for a year, like a Broadway show does. That will be called the ‘movie’ business.” He went on to say, “Everything else will be on a small screen. It’s almost that way now. ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Red Tails’ barely got into theaters. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movies into theaters.”
However, if there’s any hope that the theatrical experience will live on, it’s Lucas’s out-there theory on the use of brain implants as forms of entertainment. This statement may take away some of his credibility. He says, “The next step is to be able to control your dreams. You’ll just tap into a different part of your brain. You’re just going to put a hat on or plug into the computer and create your own world. … We’ll be able to do the dream thing 10, 15 years from now. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky thing.” Hmm… Sounds like Lucas has been watching too many of his own movies. They may be cinematic geniuses, but let’s hope Spielberg and Lucas are wrong. After all, watching movies on a big-screen is an experience universally cherished and a very important recreation for cinephiles.