Growth of home theaters, new delivery mechanisms, and alternative viewing devices

With the flourishing of the Internet and vast improvements in network bandwidth capabilities, films produced in Hollywood have also been marketed and distributed through these channels.  In the article in question, which was published in www.wired.com in June 2005, George Lucas was talking about a fundamental shift in movie consumption patterns.  The film industry in the United States has been on a steady decline since the onset of the Second World War, and this trend is likely to continue in the future too.  With the emergence of new avenues for marketing and distribution, including Television and DVD, viewership in theatres is bound to fall further.  This point is alluded to by George Lucas.

Lucas further observes that although theatre-going will continue to be a social event in American society, they would no longer see big-budget epics.  Despite being the producer of major epic blockbusters like Star Wars series and Indiana Jones, his own recent movie productions reflect the new economic landscape.  Moviemakers are compelled to make movies that would suit home theatre systems, secure online delivery mechanisms and new viewing platforms like mobile phones.  In his own words, “the big tent-pole movies will be the first victim of the rapid technological changes we’re seeing now…we’re just not going to see those being made anymore”. (Lucas, as quoted in www.wired.com, 2005)

In this context, it is easy to understand why the aesthetics would also have to change.  Since the physical dimensions of watching at home are quite different to the larger-than-life theatrical experience, the cinematography would have to be altered accordingly.  For example, movies catered to Television and DVDs tend to have more close-ups and less wide-screen shots.  Movies offered in DVDs, also contain many interactive features that add dimensions to the viewing experience.  Some experimental film projects even offer options to change plot ending.  This is a radical shift from the one-way communication offered by the theaters. More such aesthetic changes can be expected in the new media.

More than the impending aesthetic shift, what concerns Lucas is the issue of piracy online.  When movies can be downloaded for free on the first day of their theatrical release then the filmmakers lose incentive and support to continue in the industry.  This is not just a commercial loss, as it also entails loss of creative talent.  In response to rampant piracy in the Internet, George Lucas is unequivocal in his condemnation of this practice.  While not solely holding law-enforcement agencies for this mess, Lucas urges a change in collective conscience of film-buffs.  If not for the covert and overt support of movie patrons, online piracy will not thrive.  In his own words, “we need to convince people that creatives need to get paid or they can’t create, and we need to short circuit the idea that all the money goes to corporations. This is an international problem that involves international governments, but also a cultural shift.” (Lucas, as quoted in www.wired.com, 2005) (Total word count – 491)

Work Cited:

Xeni Jardin, The Empire’s New Digs, published on 28th June 2005, retrieved from <http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/news/2005/06/68017>