Q: I think my friends are most familiar with the blockbuster formula playing out in movies, and my sense is that they hate it. They see big loud sequels and adaptations taking over and they want to know who to blame. So who's to blame?
A: There are a number of people who are negative about blockbusters, and that surprises me. Put yourself in the mind of an executive. They know everybody pays the same amount for a movie, whether the studio invested $10 million or $300 million. To complain about studios overspending is odd, because the price of the ticket doesn't change. In what other industry do we complain about companies increasing their spending when they don't raise prices? In video games, it's the opposite. People are thrilled when companies spend more on the next [Grand Theft Auto].
Thing is, they're right. It is easier to get your money back by making one big movie and promoting the hell out of it than it is to make a bunch of little ones and hope to your lucky stars that one of them touches off. What you lose by doing so, though -- and what you lose invisibly, without a murmur -- is another story.
That's what's not mentioned in this interview: how the blockbuster mechanism has the bad tendency to drive out all other forms of getting creative work in front of people. This means any movie (or book, or record) that doesn't work as a blockbuster has to either be deceptively marketed -- which typically kills its commercial prospects dead -- or marketed outside the blockbuster system, which means it's lucky to get a little word of mouth before petering out. There's got to be better ways.
But when all you have is a hammer, I guess everything has to be driven like a nail.
New York City
Other Lives Of The Mind