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Monday, November 28, 2005

Wrong answer: Make fewer movies

Sorry for the long break... lots of work travel, plus Thanksgiving.

Variety reports that movie studios see one clear way to control costs: make fewer movies. As I've written here before, that seems to be exactly the wrong answer. But since no one in Hollywood seems able to make more movies with lower individual budgets, that seems to be the only possible choice.

In talking recently with a friend who works at Disney, I suggested that if Walt were alive, he'd probably have set up a standalone mini-studio to make inexpensive short films and serials for the Web, cell phones, and video iPods. (Disney's one experiment in this area is developing a spin-off of "Lost" for mobile phones, which won't begin until next year.) My friend thought about it for a minute - then agreed.

Variety quotes analyst Hal Vogel on this topic:

    "If you're going to do programming on an iPod, you need to build a staff. You need space for them. You need to market it so people will know what you are doing. And you still have all the old guys there," says longtime media analyst Hal Vogel. "We have this transition period, it could take 10 years. You're incurring costs for both."

Studios already know how to make and market expensive, big-budget projects. But what about the $10 million feature film - or the $100,000 video series for cell phones?