Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Is Hollywood Doomed? A Brilliant Answer

 

Rob Long — yes, Ricochet’s Rob Long — is funny, outrageous, and our official resident RINO. I also recently learned that he is a genius when it comes to his strategic understanding of his profession. Watch this video of a lecture he gave in Budapest not long ago:

There are 35 comments.

  1. Fricosis Guy Listener

    Rob is outstanding in person. He hit on many of the same themes at this past weekend’s “Stop Whining About Hollywood and The Media” talk at Amherst College. The FG Wife and I enjoyed it very much! Unfortunately, we needed to head home to relieve the sitter, so we couldn’t make the after-party at the Lord Jeff.

    Oh, and Rob…my iPhone had a notification almost as soon as I left my seat. My wife’s? Well, hers had been buzzing almost non-stop during your talk. She’s a financial type and Bill Gross news was flooding her timeline. She would have had her hand up every ten seconds.

    • #1
    • September 30, 2014, at 12:00 PM PDT
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  2. Casey Inactive

    Rob didn’t have a job until 24?

    • #2
    • September 30, 2014, at 12:40 PM PDT
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  3. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    A couple of quibbles:

    1)

    For a lecture given in May of 2014, Rob puts way too much emphasis on torrents. Torrent traffic is highest in areas where it is difficult to purchase digital media legally. In the United States, torrent traffic has been on the decline since around October 2013, precisely because it’s getting easier every day to pay for content, thanks to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, etc, etc.

    The places where torrent traffic continues to rise are countries where copyright laws and/or copyright exclusivity deals make is much harder to purchase digital content legally, like Europe and Canada. Come on up to Canada and try watching Netflix, or downloading a tv show from iTunes, and you’ll find that there is WAY less selection than in the US. This is because it’s a different copyright territory, and therefore different companies own the distribution rights.

    My point is that, especially in the USA, piracy is a diminishing threat as legal online distribution proliferates.

    2)

    The amount of freedom that content creators have to make a living without moving to Southern California (or New York City) is over-exaggerated.

    Look at all the biggest creators of online video/film content. Funny Or Die, The Onion, Cracked.com, Collegehumor, The Nerdist, Re/Cord, etc, etc. Of all the ones that make money, I’m aware of only one that isn’t based in either LA or NYC (The Onion is based in Chicago).

    When YouTube opened production studios for the use of the most prolific (and revenue-generating) YouTubers, they put it in LA.

    Sure, the low cost of equipment means that young amateurs can produce content from anywhere, and the Internet means they can distribute it for free. But that’s always been true, to one degree or another. A 16mm camera wasn’t all that expensive either. You could make amateur films anywhere you wanted. If they want to make a living at it, on the other hand, they need to be where the talent is, and that’s LA/NYC just as much today as it was in the past.

    Therefore, I conclude that Hollywood isn’t doomed. It’s merely changing.

    • #3
    • September 30, 2014, at 12:44 PM PDT
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  4. Profile Photo Member

    Thanks for providing some Rob Long content for my screen, content to be watched at a time and place of my choosing. Although he was in Prague talking “entertainment”, it seems to me that the expounded Long Theorem–
    “HE WHO KNOWS WHERE THE SCREENS ARE AND HOW TO REACH THEM WINS!”
    has explanatory power for electoral politics as well. And that the Democrat Party is much, much better at it than the Republican Party.

    • #4
    • September 30, 2014, at 12:55 PM PDT
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  5. danys Thatcher
    danys Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fascinating. Older daughter worked for a major talent company this summer & has a chance of an internship next summer working with social media & IT.

    Let’s see if I can text her the link.

    Rob is spot on about younger people texting & not emailing. Students would rather send me a text or chat message than an email.

    • #5
    • September 30, 2014, at 12:58 PM PDT
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  6. edwarddentzel.com Inactive

    I’ll say it again: Rob Long–most interesting person on Ricochet. And could be the smartest, despite his RINO status.

    As great as everything was that he said, I wonder about the psychological effect it has on people’s attitudes toward industries that are still very much, and always will be, brick and mortar. This ascent (or descent) toward so many things being easily accessible and virtually free when compared to prior generations can skew people’s perceptions on how much work truly goes into any product or service, and how those products get to the market in the first place.

    As in: If Facebook is free, why isn’t my house? If Twitter is free, why isn’t my car? If YouTube is free, why isn’t my healthcare? If people experience enough in their daily lives where everything is at their fingerprints for nothing, it’s not long before their “free” expectations extend to the REAL costs of living.

    I think this is the reason it’s easier than ever for politicians to convince people that free houses, free cars, free phones, and free healthcare can be had at no cost to anyone.

    There’s something to be said for anything that is attainable but not convenient–it causes us to think about economics. And we’re trying to kill that kind of thought in the 21st century.

    No answers here. Just a thought . . .

    • #6
    • September 30, 2014, at 1:33 PM PDT
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  7. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Fricosis Guy: Stop Whining About Hollywood and The Media

    Hey FG did Amherst make a video of the event, and if so do you have a link? You know I thought I was going to see it when he first posted and it looked like it was going to be held in DC.

    thanks, III

    • #7
    • September 30, 2014, at 1:35 PM PDT
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  8. Fricosis Guy Listener

    GLDIII:

    Fricosis Guy: Stop Whining About Hollywood and The Media

    Hey FG did Amherst make a video of the event, and if so do you have a link? You know I thought I was going to see it when he first posted and it looked like it was going to be held in DC.

    thanks, III

    Hey III, no video rig that I saw. I believe that one of the organizers is one of the Ricochetti, so perhaps he’ll chime in.

    • #8
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:12 PM PDT
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  9. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wow! Great job Rob. Has me thinking.

    That was a conservative ending.

    • #9
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:13 PM PDT
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  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m surprised movie theaters are still profitable enough to merit the opening of new locations (and revamping of old locations). HD-TVs are common now. I wonder if theaters remain viable mainly because they have become a social tradition, like people gathering at bars.

    • #10
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:25 PM PDT
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  11. Rob Long Founder

    Misthiocracy:A couple of quibbles:

    1)

    For a lecture given in May of 2014, Rob puts way too much emphasis on torrents. Torrent traffic is highest in areas where it is difficult to purchase digital media legally. In the United States, torrent traffic has been on the decline since around October 2013, precisely because it’s getting easier every day to pay for content, thanks to iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, etc, etc.

    The places where torrent traffic continues to rise are countries where copyright laws and/or copyright exclusivity deals make is much harder to purchase digital content legally, like Europe and Canada. Come on up to Canada and try watching Netflix, or downloading a tv show from iTunes, and you’ll find that there is WAY less selection than in the US. This is because it’s a different copyright territory, and therefore different companies own the distribution rights.

    My point is that, especially in the USA, piracy is a diminishing threat as legal online distribution proliferates.

    2)

    The amount of freedom that content creators have to make a living without moving to Southern California (or New York City) is over-exaggerated.

    Look at all the biggest creators of online video/film content. Funny Or Die, The Onion, Cracked.com, Collegehumor, The Nerdist, Re/Cord, etc, etc. Of all the ones that make money, I’m aware of only one that isn’t based in either LA or NYC (The Onion is based in Chicago).

    When YouTube opened production studios for the use of the most prolific (and revenue-generating) YouTubers, they put it in LA.

    Sure, the low cost of equipment means that young amateurs can produce content from anywhere, and the Internet means they can distribute it for free. But that’s always been true, to one degree or another. A 16mm camera wasn’t all that expensive either. You could make amateur films anywhere you wanted. If they want to make a living at it, on the other hand, they need to be where the talent is, and that’s LA/NYC just as much today as it was in the past.

    Therefore, I conclude that Hollywood isn’t doomed. It’s merely changing.

    Well, yeah, “doomed” is my attention-grabber. Hollywood will continue to exist and thrive — and because it requires collaboration, will probably always be clustered in large cities. But it won’t have to be in Hollywood, California any more than “Wall Street” has to be in downtown New York. London, Beijing, Abu Dhabi — places like that — are perfectly humming and prosperous money centers. Dubai, Mumbai, London — these are major film financing centers, too.

    Oh, and I mentioned torrents a lot because I was in Budapest. Lots and lots of torrenting going on there!

    • #11
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:46 PM PDT
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  12. Rob Long Founder

    Clark! Thanks for unearthing this!

    (And I promise: I’m blushing….)

    • #12
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:46 PM PDT
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  13. Rob Long Founder

    Casey:Rob didn’t have a job until 24?

    I had jobs. But not, like, job jobs.

    • #13
    • September 30, 2014, at 2:47 PM PDT
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  14. Casey Inactive

    Oh ok… That makes me feel better. I still haven’t had a job job.

    • #14
    • September 30, 2014, at 3:23 PM PDT
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  15. SEnkey Inactive

    I really liked Rob’s bigger point about the need for stories and the human need to avoid loneliness. Hollywood replaced and killed other industries. Before the moving pictures traveling circuses, wild west acts, and local variety shows/melodrama theaters were very popular. Cinema changed all of that. I think like many have already said, we are just seeing another change in the story telling industry.

    I’m sure that Hollywood will survive long enough to make fifteen more Star Wars and Avengers movies.

    I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

    • #15
    • September 30, 2014, at 4:05 PM PDT
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  16. Scott R Member
    Scott R Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    “Maybe we’re changing back to the way we were for the thousand years before TV screens — we’re sitting around chit-chatting, sharing music and stories, playing games.” [paraphrasing]

    That’s a real insight, and a far less depressing way to think about all these kids thumbing their phones.

    • #16
    • September 30, 2014, at 6:34 PM PDT
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  17. Profile Photo Member

    Given the success of the new brand of TV we are getting, I wonder if there is any merit to bringing back the old weekly serials in cinemas.

    • #17
    • September 30, 2014, at 7:33 PM PDT
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  18. Ben Inactive
    Ben

    I was this close to sending my headshot to CAA and the like to cash in on the last few million bucks to be made out of Hollywood–I guess now I’ll have to learn Hindi.

    • #18
    • September 30, 2014, at 8:58 PM PDT
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  19. Merina Smith Inactive

    Very interesting lecture. It’s fun to get an inside view of the business. I completely agree that television has become much more interesting than movies because it is possible to develop characters much more fully. Those of us who watch TV series become very invested in the characters. But I’m not sure I agree that loneliness puts people in front of the screen. If that is so, why do people watch with their families? It might sometimes be that, but I think more fundamentally people watch because they are bored and they want to escape their mundane world for a little while. And we all love stories because that’s how we understand the world. There is certainly an emotional component though. I’ve noticed that I have a hard time watching a show when I don’t like any of the characters. Of course, people still watch shows like House of Cards, so that can’t be true for everyone. Maybe some people want to watch the person they can love to hate.

    • #19
    • September 30, 2014, at 9:04 PM PDT
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  20. Douglas Inactive

    As significant as technology and social media have been in Hollywood’s declining fortunes, the growing left-right cultural divide plays a part too. A growing number of people on the right simply refuse to buy a movie ticket from a sector they see as hating their guts. I know more and more people on the right that refuse to go to the movies, and I’ve been to two movies in 3 years now, and both times I went was for the kids. And now that the youngest has discovered YouTube, he doesn’t even ask me to go anymore. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer industry. After all, we soooo enjoy Leo DeCaprio jetting around to tell us to stop using gasoline.

    When piracy first became a serious problem for music, I was very much on the law and order side: don’t steal, kids. It’s wrong.

    Now? I hope they rob the whole industry blind. There’s a certain amount of irony in liberal adult hipsters losing their shirts because liberal adolescent hipsters think they’re entitled to free movies and songs, in part because said liberal adult hipsters helped to create the snotty sense of entitlement. To me what’ s happening to Hollywood is the equivalent of Al Sharpton going to Ferguson… and getting mugged.

    • #20
    • September 30, 2014, at 9:44 PM PDT
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  21. Douglas Inactive

    Aaron Miller:I’m surprised movie theaters are still profitable enough to merit the opening of new locations (and revamping of old locations). HD-TVs are common now. I wonder if theaters remain viable mainly because they have become a social tradition, like people gathering at bars.

    Going out to the movies could still be a thing. It’s nice to get out of the house, after all. And for naturally solitary types such as myself, going to the movies… even if by yourself… was a nice way to mix with humanity for a short bit. It was nice going with your girl or your kids and getting popcorn and getting lost in another world for two hours. If Hollywood became at least more politically neutral as an industry and culture, I might consider going to movies again. But I might as well wish for my own unicorn, because it’s ain’t happening. Even when they try to do a Biblical movie, for example, they always screw it up through the lens of their leftist politics. They turned Noah into a Greenpeace message with special effects. There are no more Cecille B DeMille’s making a Ten Commandments anymore. You know how much bank that would make if someone did one like Cecille today, with modern tech, but stayed true to the story? It’d make a billion dollars, when it was all said and done with. But you can’t trust anyone in Hollywood to do it right.

    • #21
    • September 30, 2014, at 9:56 PM PDT
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  22. Walker Member
    Walker Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Ricochet Producers: Any thought of putting this on your podcast list? I think it would make a good addition, perhaps even behind the paywall as an inducement to get others to fork over a few ducats.

    • #22
    • September 30, 2014, at 11:58 PM PDT
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  23. The Party of Hell No! Inactive

    I enjoyed the lecture also. Very insightful and forward viewing and thinking. I expect a minority view, while the majority of people in the film industry believe they are it. Like the music industry before them they think all this other media production is a flash in the pan and things will return to normal as soon as the viewers realize they are missing the experience of big screens, popcorn, crowded theaters, previews and advertisements, advertisements advertisements.

    A point I would make is the screen in the peoples pockets, or the screens at home along with much of the content on all those screens is likely broadcast, or streamed as HD, Blue Ray or possibly even 4K. The problem is theaters still “project.” So the visual of all those screens from the first moment is already better – the thing missing is the size. Like the music industry if you want to capture the market you have to offer something the consumer can only get at the theater – full size theater monitors, not practical for the home – streaming HD or 4K. Where all the seats are equal in quality. When this happens people will begin to return for the full experience of the larger screen (They will probably preview it on their small screen and then go watch it on the larger screen.). As a side note; the advertising must be dropped. The younger demographics have been conditioned – if I pay for content, I don’t expect to be fed ads.

    Another observation is the amount of content, not the number of movie titles, but the number of duplications of movie titles, or songs. How do media conglomerates expect to capture their media rights, or the rights to label someones content as “pirated” when the consumerism of America, actually the consumerism of the media conglomerates are throw away. So all the DVD and Blue Ray libraries assembled by the baby boomers are given away or inherited – how can the digital rights be tracked? If computers are thrown away with software EULA’s and they are retrieved – who’s digital rights are they now? And if one has children who abandon devices for better devices, or replace broken devices and said “Dad” retrieves – from these broken or abandoned devices – legitimately bought media who now owns those rights? Better yet, if legitimate media is copied over from said abandoned device and left on abandoned device is it like salvage rights? I could almost predict an exponential curve as to the spread of copies of media. I say the price of used records/tapes/CD’s is nothing, what is priceless is the digital rights to the music recorded on the used medium. This environment was caused by the money making of the media conglomerates; trying to capture any and all revenue streams at the cost of spreading far and wide immeasurable duplicates of their content.

    • #23
    • October 1, 2014, at 7:15 AM PDT
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  24. Casey Inactive

    Rob, serious question (I usually have to preface this way),

    Late in the lecture you reference the fat squeeze in Los Angeles – a big sprawling city built on fat.

    My experience there is that all LA has to offer is that it is LA. There’s a kind of illusion that everyone buys into. Lots of really good looking people with no money mixing it up with lots of ugly people with lots of money. Vs places like New York or Chicago that feel more permanently anchored.

    As someone who is interested in cities (and LA being an unusual city) – What do you think the fat squeeze will mean for the city of LA? Will we see a slow dwindle in population? Will the city condense or thin? Or neither?

    Will Los Angeles struggle to keep up with other more appealing/techy California cities? Or is LA situated such that it will seamlessly adapt?

    Just curious to get a sense of what’s happening.

    • #24
    • October 1, 2014, at 7:38 AM PDT
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  25. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SEnkey: I’m sure that Hollywood will survive long enough to make fifteen more Star Wars and Avengers movies. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing.

    If the movies are good, then it’s a good thing.

    So far, the Marvel Studios movies have been really, really good (the Sony/Fox produced Marvel movies, not so much), so I welcome many more years of MCU goodness (although I am frustrated by how much MCU material is creeping into the Earth-616 comic books).

    As for the upcoming Star Wars movies, I have great faith in the powers of Kathleen Kennedy to stick-handle a great sci-fi/action/adventure franchise.

    • #25
    • October 1, 2014, at 8:05 AM PDT
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  26. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As long as people need places to go on dates, there will be movie theatres.

    • #26
    • October 1, 2014, at 8:07 AM PDT
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  27. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Casey: My experience there is that all LA has to offer is that it is LA. There’s a kind of illusion that everyone buys into. Lots of really good looking people with no money mixing it up with lots of ugly people with lots of money. Vs places like New York or Chicago that feel more permanently anchored.

    I’m not Rob (in case you haven’t noticed), but here’s a short list of non-entertainment companies based in Los Angeles County:

    • Isuzu Motors USA
    • Makida
    • Trader Joe’s
    • Delta Scientific
    • Princess Cruise Lines
    • Honda USA
    • Toyota USA
    • Dole Food Company

    L.A. County also has:

    • the nation’s two busiest container ports
    • dozens of aerospace companies
    • the Los Angeles City Oil Field
    • about $11 billion per year in military contracts
    • #27
    • October 1, 2014, at 8:19 AM PDT
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  28. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    In the digital era, it seems to me that Hollywood could do better than simply offering a single “Special Features” add-on to expand their profit strategies.

    For example, the hard division between films and TV shows is unnecessary when neither scheduling nor presentation is a factor. With on-demand viewing and play-anywhere (on any device) availability, cinematic storytellers are free to experiment with feature or episode duration, series arrangement, side stories, etc.

    • #28
    • October 1, 2014, at 8:29 AM PDT
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  29. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member
    Misthiocracy grudgingly Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller: For example, the hard division between films and TV shows is unnecessary when neither scheduling nor presentation is a factor. With on-demand viewing and play-anywhere (on any device) availability, cinematic storytellers are free to experiment with feature or episode duration, series arrangement, side stories, etc.

    Once again, I bring up Doctor Who, which has had quite a bit of success exhibiting high-profile episodes (like season premieres, season finales, and Christmas specials) in movie theatres.

    • #29
    • October 1, 2014, at 8:45 AM PDT
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  30. Casey Inactive

    Misthiocracy: here’s a short list of non-entertainment companies based in Los Angeles County:

    Yeah, all cities have places where people work but big cities like NYC and LA also have a thing. That little something else that separates it from other places. People move to NYC or LA just to say they live there.

    I’m not thinking that LA would become Detroit, but could LA become Houston?

    It just sounds like, from Rob’s brief remark, that the fabric of the city can, and is, changing. Just wondering how that’s playing out.

    • #30
    • October 1, 2014, at 9:47 AM PDT
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