Hollywood producer Lynda Obst--her work includes Sleepless in Seattle, Contact and How to Lose a Guy in 10 days--is the author of Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business. From her Q & A with Smriti Rao for the Wall Street Journal's India Real Time:
The Wall Street Journal: The book really resonated with me as a moviegoer. My husband only likes to watch zombie movies or robots, to the extent that I have stopped going to the movies. Who do you think is to blame for this turn of events? Is it just Hollywood or would you say ‘Hey emerging markets! It’s your fault too.’--Marshal Zeringue
Lynda Obst: I think it’s a little of both. We certainly have a big fanboy base here in the United States that loves its zombies – you are married to one, I gave birth to one. We also have a big teenage market that for many years drove this heavy metal, horror, zombie and action market before the emerging markets joined in. And the power of the [teenage] market was that they always went to the movies on weekends in droves. The longer a movie played, the more the theaters made.
After the collapse of the DVD market – which used to be 50% of a movie’s profits – the movie business fell prey to the same fate as the music market and the publishing business. The power of technology made movies downloadable for free. And it [Hollywood] discovered quite conveniently that the emerging markets were building theaters at an amazing rate as new capitalists and new middle-classes were going to the movies and paying to see these astonishing special effects that technology was providing.
WSJ: ‘Titanic’ — or ‘Romeo and Juliet on a boat’ as the book puts it — was the turning point for the international markets.
Ms. Obst: Exactly. The themes were international, the effects were astonishing and new theaters were being built in gigantic numbers in China. In India, it was a proliferation of multiplexes. India is a very special case because it has always had a booming movie industry and a large population that went to its own movies. The movies made in the U.S. never dominated the market there. But with multiplexes making more money and the emergence of the middle-class, there were more screens to play American movies in places that were dominated by Bollywood movies. So the American movie market started to have a place in India.
In China, it was...[read on]