Okay, I did not get it all right last year. Perhaps you think my crystal ball had a crack in it. But I did not say they would all hit thisyear. Check back on 2014′s predictions come the 2020′s and you might be surprised how right I am. Or not, but still if we don’t look at where we think we are going, how are we to pave the roads to take us there?
So what I do I predict this year for the years ahead? In examining this list, take in mind that I am not advocating for these developments, nor am I ranking them. I just took the moments needed to examine where we are today, what’s been said, and where it may all lead. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and where you think it may go too.
- Nonprofits Across The Globe Will Take The Lead In Plotting The New Film Ecosystem. Never before have we been able to conceive of let alone strategize what a total reboot might resemble — but now we can. Now recognized, we need to get down to the brass tacks of organizing it. Who’s going to do it? It won’t come to the power brokers as they have no motive to put more independence in the artists. It can’t just come from one country because everyone is effected and needs to work together.Watch Sundance and BFI and Screen Australia find their counterparts in Asia, Latin America, India, and Russia and start to really make this film ecosystem work for all of us. To me, it seems so obvious that is what they should be doing, I have to imagine that is what they are doing.
- The Industry Will Wise Up About What Is Said On Email. The Sony Hack will be the final straw. In the age of Wikileaks, Snowden, and posting of private photos of celebrity, corporate espionage will surely be going mainstream. When executives feel the need to curse other folks out, they will return to doing it to their faces. Expect corporate employment manuals to outline the proper way to misbehave and curse others out.
- Tweeting On Screen With The Movie. Okay, this will be hell for some, but for others… it may even be devine. And if the theaters can make money from it? Wow. How could it NOT happen? It seems to be working in China. Stateside, filmmakers should put it in their contracts to prevent it, if they don’t like it — but I think all experiments reveal something. And the Chinese have certainly given us some great innovations before, like gunpowder. At least it seems like no one is running out of ideas to appeal to the kids, right?
- It Will Be “Cool” For Cinephiles To Buy DVDs Like Music Fans Buy Vinyl. We have an availability gap. It is currently challenging for SVOD services to license great films and our corner video stores have all closed. If you think you want sometime to watch the great films of our time, if it is not a blockbuster, you better buy them when you can. And just think: when friends visit, won’t they be impressed by your etchings — I mean blu rays.
- Short Features Become Popular With Artists And Audiences. 70 is the new 90. We have less available time than ever before and thus value our time more than we used to. The dominance of the 90 minute feature form was driven by the economic model. Theatrical release has become less of a necessity for filmmakers, whereas online opportunities abound. The internet is length agnostic. You add in the fact that shorter the film the less it should cost (both to make and consume), and you have to wonder what’s taking so long for the new hour length indie film to take hold.
- More Films Will Be Available On SVOD & TVOD Internationally Alongside Their US Theatrical Release. The Weinstein Company may have started a trend with St. Vincent & Eleanor Rigby, opening in on SVOD in France simultaneously with the US Theatrical. This not only should reduce piracy but confronts some of the challenges of cultural abundance head on, while capitalizing on the global media hit a US release offers.
- Having Unbundled, We Will Bundle Up In Different Clothing. Cutting the cord has been seen as a boon for consumers. More choice. Different options. But the huge wave of new SVOD services is going to drown us in options again. So people didn’t like having to take sports with their other channels (or was it the other way around) in the days of cable dominance? Well, how are they going to decide which of the 25 SVOD options to subscribe to? One can imagine it is only a short walk away from when many of those SVOD options starting banding together to offer discounts on bundles of their own. Or perhaps it will come from the hardware manufacturers… as that seems to be what Sony is doing.
- Google, Apple, and/or Amazon Will Buy A US Studio. It will be chump change for them. You’ve got to think that a tech company would do a better job monetizing the library and other assets than the Studios do themselves these days. And the brand recognition that the Studios offer would be more expensive to build. It is only a matter of time. When?
- Studios And Networks Will Scramble To Acquire Digital Content/Discovery Companies. The Studios never had a direct relationship with the consumer. It wasn’t easy to deliver. They employed market testing, but it was always a false situation. Video stores offered a little insight but were not a great way to capture data. Netflix has woken the giants to the reality of the value of recognizing your audience’s behavior and preferences. Why guess when you can know? Now many have built direct relationships with those that consume content and there is so much to learn. Expect there to be a lot of acquisition in this space.
- “Ferguson” Will Surface In Many Movies. America (and capitalism) was built on violence and oppression. We still have not effectively grappled or reconciled with it. The repercussions ripple louder and louder. Movies have always helped us talk about the most challenging of subjects and emotions. Ferguson captures, as all police brutality towards black youth does, the weight we have before us, and we can count on our artists to tackle it far quicker than our politicians. SELMA, one of my favorite films of the year, sizzles with its present day relevance. It won’t be the only one though. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
- The Traditional Television Business Will Worsen As Ratings Continue To Drop. Once you get to chose the when, where, and how, why would you ever go back? Live events are one thing, but once it is recorded people want control. Further, if you can watch something without commercial interruption wouldn’t you? Granted this is going to be very bad for quality content creation which has been long supported by advertising, so who will ultimately win?
- Could Blockchain Transform Ownership Of Digital Culture? Brian Newman thinks so. Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin and enables one to track the history and terms of ownership of a digital object. Consider it a virtual ledger. Brian offers his thoughts here. Although I think cultural works are something quite different where most see no need to view the authentic version, there is something to be considered about the idea of tracking “ownership” — if that concept has any life in it at all.
- Sony Will License Spiderman Back To Marvel And Withdraw From The Superhero Wars — Well, if our industry was based on logic they would as Liam Boluk’s analysis of ”Film Franchises, Platforms, & IP: The Future Of Superhero Cinema” so clearly points out, Sony and Fox both are at such a disadvantage to Disney and Warner Bros., they should withdraw now!
- Brand Sponsorship Will Enter More Phases Of The Film Process. RedBull has their music studio; they sponsor concert after concert. Converse does likewise. Where is the equivalent for the film business? You can’t say it is the YouTube or Fullscreen studios because they are directly in the content game. Will a brand take over a movie theater and offer free screenings in exchange for audiences watching a commercial or five? Or just having their product distributed inside? We see how branded content props up many a production company. Can we really expect it to stop there? Why not have their own production company? Or perhaps their own film festival? Movies bring people together. Good movies have people reveal more of their emotions. Why just sell them a fifteen cent bag of popcorn for six dollars?
- More Films Will Be Packaged With Additional Content For Purchase. Like most recent film best practices, this will start in the documentary world and expand to the narrative. The easiest way to look at this is to say we are not filmmakers, but filmmakers (ha!). Once on the ground, we capture material — and now we can use it well. Studies show that the more price variations of a product line you offer the consumer, the more they are likely to opt for the middle ground. Call it “Good, better, best” product & pricing. When you put your film up for sale on an online TVOD platform have one version that is just the film, another with an array of additional content, and yet another with all of that, plus commentary and maybe some original artwork. Heck, add in a Skype session with the artist and full on curriculum and ca-ching! Further by making not just a film, but a story world, creators have content that they can use to garner earned media and with that have a new node to drive discovery and consumption. It may feel at first that it we are giving away our work when we place the non-monetizing event on sites for free, but when we late harvest new revenue by bundling in this way, we can start our victory dance. As we are now monetizing it, this a step beyond the days of “Additional DVD Content”.
- Someone Figures Out How To Make Money From Curation. It worked in magazines (The New Yorker). It works in radio (This American Life). It works on blogs (Brainpickings.org and MediaReDef.com). It certainly makes sense for museum. And yes all of those also create original content too. In this age of abundance, people need filters, desperately. I have to think people are willing to pay for it. It would make their life a whole lot better.