G is for Greenlight

Photo Credit: worldofkj.com

Any article about the current tug of war between movies and TV that opens with how amazing “Breaking Bad” is automatically has my full attention. But wait, I’m not here to gush. I’m really curious about what the studio suits think about the recent rise of cable gamechangers. I don’t even remember AMC being all the rage until the “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men” and “Walking Dead” trifecta hit. Suddenly, these well-written, acted and beautifully shot mini-movies were popping up on my TV every week at the same time the local cinema was getting really stale. What gives?

In his recent “The Main Reason TV Is Now Better Than Movies”, Vulture.com’s Gavin Polone asks the million dollar question: Are the studios just not dishing out the hits like they used too? As you read further, reports of movie attendance  going down even while the population has gone up don’t paint such a pretty picture. Yes, people are fickle and every industry has its ups and downs, but for the film kids, it’s important to glean any insider perspective on what the heck is going on.

Polone says it all comes down to one big change: to greenlight a film in 2012 ain’t as easy it used to be. Instead of the menacing cigar-wielding exec, he explains that moviemaking is now comparable to say…electing the president. Several committees come together to each select a film they see the most projected potential in and then bring it to an even larger table for the final verdict. Essentially projects are now pre-greenlit. Huh? Sounds like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen, but I’ll bite.

Another interesting note on how studios view, let’s say for example, small dramas in terms of dollar signs. Polone gives a exec’s feedback on that too. Bottom line, it costs A LOT of money to run a studio (quoted in the article as a $500-700 million overhead). I guess from a traditional business standpoint that makes sense. Who wants to devote the same amount of effort into giving the go-ahead to a coming-of-age non-linear indie with unknowns as “The Avengers” sequel? Big studios rank their potential films against models they’ve seen work in the past. Plain and simple.

So, cable TV, you keep doing your thing. You don’t have nearly the political hoops to jump through nor a weighty financial overhead on your shoulders. Like Polone, I believe the studios will wise up to if the fact that the big screen doesn’t get a jolt of cable drama originality quick, folks might start choosing their couches over movie theaters. You can read the full article on Vulture.com.

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