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Steven Spielberg Says 'Lincoln' Was Almost An HBO Project, Warns Of Film Industry "Implosion"

by Ken Guidry
June 13, 2013 9:37 AM
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Steven Spielberg, Lincoln, set image

It’s becoming pretty obvious what the trend of 2013 is, at least in the film world. That trend would be filmmakers sharing their opinions on the current state of cinema and their predictions for what the future of cinema could entail. This time around, it’s George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. They recently visited the USC School of Cinematic Arts to help tout the opening of their new Interactive Media Building. While there, they spoke of the current state of cinema, with Spielberg predicting that a sea of change in the film industry is simply inevitable... we’re sure the film students in the audience were just thrilled to hear that. Sorry kids.

Spielberg elaborates further. “There’s eventually going to be an implosion — or a big meltdown. There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm.” He then predicts that blockbuster and franchise movies will command premiere ticket prices (get ready to pay $25 for stuff like "Man Of Steel"), while smaller scale dramas will become rarer and rarer. "I think eventually the 'Lincoln's will go away and they're going to be on television," George Lucas chimed in. "As mine almost was," Spielberg interjected. "This close -- ask HBO -- this close."

Lucas also added that he thinks film exhibition could soon wind up having a Broadway play model, with fewer films released and staying in theaters for longer periods of time, and ticket prices becoming much higher. He also talked of the difficulty these days for filmmakers to get their films into theaters. "We're talking 'Lincoln' and 'Red Tails' -- we barely got them into theaters. You're talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can't get their movie into a theater," Lucas said. "The pathway to get into theaters is really getting smaller and smaller.”

Lucas also echoed the sentiments of other filmmakers, claiming that cable television is “much more adventurous” than film nowadays. While all these thoughts and concerns certainly hold water, it’s got to be a bummer for a film student to hear two of the most financially successful filmmakers of all time speak so bleakly about the direction cinema is going into. Perhaps it’s time to turn that script you’ve been working on into a mini-series or a TV show. [THR]

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  • Gary Ash | July 25, 2013 1:46 PMReply

    But it doesn't tell us WHY this is going to happen. "There's going to be an implosion where maybe half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground"
    What kind of implosion? bought on by what?

  • SkyWater | June 15, 2013 9:58 AMReply

    I wonder if Transformers 8 will be a part of that implosion, hey steven?

  • Alex | June 13, 2013 10:21 PMReply

    Lol at Lucas trying to include Red Tails in the same sentence as Lincoln.

  • JenT | June 13, 2013 5:32 PMReply

    How much did it costs to make ''Silver Linings Playbook''? compare that to the cost of Lincoln?!?Either way, I too LOVE going to the movies, even though I'm Disabled I try to save money to go see at least one 1st run Movie, i.e. last month it was Star Trek, which I Loved! But when I can't go right away, I go to the $1 movie theater! & Still get butter on my popcorn! Now, who can get me 7minutes w/Mr.Spielberg &/or Mr.Lucas, Its ALL I NEED to EARN just enough to get Off Disability!! REALLY, I'm telling the truth, just 7minutes! Blessings to All!

  • Sparky | June 13, 2013 12:53 PMReply

    Good god, these two seems to have absolutely no awareness that they were the filmmakers responsible for the blockbuster model. Jaws and Star Wars changed everything.

  • JD | June 13, 2013 1:36 PM

    Oh jesus, this bullshit? AGAIN? Spielberg and Lucas were not responsible for the "blockbuster model"; they made successful movies that everybody else tried to rip off. George Lucas thought Star Was was going to be a complete failure. He kept the rights for the toys because that's the only thing he figured would make money. Spielberg expected Jaws to be a disaster. He'd made a movie about a killer shark and the shark didn't work. They have no responsibility for the current big-studio attitude that if it isn't a lowest-common denominator big-budget movie based on an existing property, and it doesn't cost 200 million to make, it shouldn't exist. Spielberg and Lucas are sincere artists who made the films they wanted to see, not what some development exec decided would cash in on some trend.

  • sparky | June 13, 2013 12:54 PM


  • Glass | June 13, 2013 11:35 AMReply

    There's something so unrewarding about making a movie and your audience is ONLY going to be a bunch of people looking for some time to kill on the couch after getting home from work. Entertainment is entertainment, but it feels more fun if the audience actually left their house to go see your movie.

    Seeing the kinds of people who binge-watched Arrested Development for 7 straight hours on Memorial Day made me such a sad panda. Same with the people who watch a season and a half of Breaking Bad in a day. Sad fucking panda.

  • Rob | June 13, 2013 10:18 AMReply

    "Happens every ten years or so... Gets rid of the bad blood."

  • CINEMAPOCALYPSE | June 13, 2013 10:18 AMReply

    "three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground"

    How will this happen? Even when they suck, they never seem to go "crashing into the ground".

  • JD | June 13, 2013 1:28 PM

    It'll happen when a studio spends a billion dollars to make only three movies, and all three of those movies fail to make back their 300 million plus budgets, and the studio goes bankrupt. They'll fail to turn a profit because most of the 1st world audience will be home watching television or dvds, and the third world audience will finally get sick of really, really terrible American movies that they've already seen bootlegged over the internet. The idiot executives greenlighting films these days don't know how to make good cheap movies anymore. The idea that everything has to cost over a hundred mil. and hopefully break a billion is just not a sustainable bussiness model. You can't mass-produce only Lambhorginis, right? You need to have Toyotas and Fords too.

  • Tally | June 13, 2013 10:25 AM

    I think studios have expectations on certain films. Most of them need to make a shit load worldwide to even make a profit for the studio. Even if the certain blockbuster doubles the budget or whatever, many in the studios would probably consider it a failure since the bar is set up to a billion dollars worldwide. Few films do make a billion worldwide but how many are actually good?

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