Tentpole Movies

Mitt Romney currently leads the Republican Presidential nominee field in two distinct ways. The first is in spending, where he’s made it rain $100m so far in order to not clinch the nomination. The second is in delegates, which is it where it counts. Still, he’s facing the possibility of not getting enough delegates before the National Convention in late August which means there’s a chance (albeit a slim one) he won’t be the eventual nominee. He’s also facing difficult internal numbers and that general feeling of, you know, meh-ness from potential supporters. So, he’s John Carter. The correlations are clear: both are inevitable successes by a traditional standpoint, both are flawed in ways that injure their ability to connect with an audience, they’re both in danger of failing, and they both spent a ton of money to get to where they are. There’s a lesson in all of this and hopefully the major studios are paying close attention.

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On January 11, 1991, the then-head of Disney studios, Jeffrey Katzenberg, circulated an incredibly important memo about the state of the movie industry and the products they were making. It was called, “The World is Changing: Some Thoughts on Our Business,” and it had a simple purpose: to locate the root of a growing problem and to take steps to avoid falling victim to it. Katzenberg began the memo by stating: “As we begin the new year, I strongly believe we are entering a period of great danger and even greater uncertainty. Events are unfolding within and without the movie industry that are extremely threatening to our studio.” As we begin a new year two decades after this memo was written, it’s critical to look back at the points Katzenberg made to see that his period of great danger is now our period of great danger, to note that the same events unfolding within and without the industry still threaten the entire studio system in 2012, and to predict our future based on the past.

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Every week, Landon Palmer and Cole Abaius log on to their favorite chat client of 1996 as holeinmyshower and RepWeiner08 in order to discuss some topical topic of interest. This week, the two wonder whether fans should educate themselves before hopping into a movie. Can the movie-going experience be made better by a little research before getting our ticket ripped or should we be able to go blindly into the darkness and expect great entertainment?

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