Working for a major studio and having friends at other studios, it's hard to ignore the doom and gloom talk that pervades this business when the topic turns to feature films.
"Why would anyone go to the theater when they have HD at home?"
"Movies have to be bigger than home theaters to get them to pay the ticket price."
"It's all about 3D!"
I shake my head and laugh to myself. Am I the only one who's been paying attention to the last 50 years of film history? First television was going to kill the movies. Then it was color television that would be the end of feature films. Then people were going to stop buying tickets because of cable, then the VCR, the laserdisc, the DVD... and now... beware! HD is going to kill the feature the film!
And the only way to save it is big, loud , and, something new, 3D!
Oh, wait, but there's this movie that just opened two weeks ago. A comedy that's already raked in $153 million in the US alone. You don't have to wear glasses and nothing explodes (unless you count the bellows of laughter from the audience).
The Hangover may be the funniest movie I've ever seen and I can tell you that Warner Brothers doesn't need to spend another dime on marketing or advertising if they don't want to, because an extremely high percentage of those 15 million or so people who have already seen it will tell there friends, coworkers, and family, "You must see The Hangover!" Now. Not when it's on HBO or Netflix has it. Now!
So are all those execs at the studios wrong? Can they get away with not spending hundreds of millions of dollars on every theatrical release from now on? Well yes and no. They must spend that kind of dough on production and marketing if they're going to continue to make crap (and even so, crap in 3D is still crap).
The Hangover is ridiculously successful for one reason and one reason only. It's a good movie in every sense of the word. And I'll bet there were plenty of executives, producers, and development people who turned it down or were certain it was destined for failure (and, in case you were wondering those are the people in the theater who are crying whilst everyone else is in hysterics).
The brilliant William Goldman's assertion about show business that "nobody knows anything" is still true to this day. It's both the frustration accompanying trying to work in this business and the hope that, as it always has, anything can happen.