Earlier this morning, I read an opinion piece on CNN's web site entitled "Die already, James Bond" by Lewis Beale, which I felt missed the real problem in Hollywood. So I wrote a quick response which is quoted below in its entirety.

In my opinion, Mr. Beale is looking at this the wrong way. Domestic ticket sales have been way behind global ticket sales for many decades (5-7 decades, i.e., 50-70 years); this isn't a new thing and no one should expect it to be a new thing. The US currently has a population around 300 million. the rest of the world has a collective population over 5 billion. We may have more theaters, but they have more people.


The *REAL* problem is that Hollywood is killing itself by forcing theaters to pay higher and higher licensing fees to show their films. The theater chains can't live without the first run films and so they're extorted into paying the fees, which they turn around and pass on to the moviegoers. When I went to see Golden Eye in theaters 20 years ago, a matinee ticket cost around $4; when I bought a matinee ticket to Spectre yesterday, it was $9.49. Other films I saw for matinee prices this year were also in the $5 range. Why the price discrepancy? Studios want to make as much money as possible on opening weekend for their grosses to state whether or not the film is successful. (Opening weekend is usually all the executives care about unless the film remains number one for several weeks after opening.)


As a moviegoer, why should I pay $20 for me and my date to go see a film when I can 1) wait for it to go to Blu-Ray/DVD in a few months and get it for the same price or lower (and give the DVD away to a friend if I choose to do so), and/or 2) wait for it to appear on Netflix where I don't have to pay a dime extra since I'm paying for a monthly subscription that still costs less than those two tickets? (And lets not go into film piracy.)


The movie studios know they're killing themselves, so rather than take chances on being new and original works, they go to the [historically] tried and true money makers, and make prequels, sequels, reboots, and spinoffs. Independently financed and produced films, or those from the "experimental" branches of the studios and distributors are where the new ideas and stories come from more often than not, but those don't get the same theater access as the blockbusters do. And the reason is obvious: why should the theaters take a chance on something that is not going to make the same money as the blockbusters do? Thus the small, independent theater chains, the art house theaters, etc, which frequently show either old established movies or some new little known, small run films.


None of this is new. Well, I take that back. The internet is forcing the studios to change their game, in dealing with companies like Netflix and in dealing with piracy, but aside from those aspects, this same thing has been going on for decades. Don't blame the film franchises, they're being exploited to keep the studios afloat. I sometimes wonder what the film industry would look like if we the moviegoers let Hollywood die. I don't want that, mind you, but I think it would open up a lot of opportunity for new and creative films to hit the scene.

While I would love to work in Hollywood as a screenwriter and sell some of my original scripts, the odds against that happening are severely stacked against me and any other aspiring screenwriter that would come up with original stories. We first have to manage to get our foot in the door and noticed by someone at a talent agency just to get representation before we can even really pitch our ideas to the studios. And even once we get that far, the studios then weigh the risks of doing something original versus doing something that's worked in the past. I'm not trying to complain and say "tear down the system" or anything like that, but making a film, particularly a successful film that is going to earn a profit is a lot more complicated than saying "Make a movie about a kid growing up in rural Michigan that becomes the president," Especially when you have scripts and script ideas laying around for sequels to very successful franchises. Face it, Bond has been one of the most successful film franchises ever. Why make a feel good story about that kid when you know that you can make another Bond film that will attract a much greater audience?