For several years there has been an increasing buzz that tech is going to kill Hollywood. The buzz reached a recent frenzy led by Y Combinator's call to action.
There are three reasons that I don't think tech will kill Hollywood:
3) "Hollywood" is more than a city or few big studios.
OK, I know there IS a city called Hollywood, but people in the tech world seem to imagine Hollywood is a few companies led by cigar-smoking, tuxedo'd fat cats.
In fact, Hollywood isn't an entity at all (and lots of the activity that we call Hollywood happens miles, states, and countries away). Hollywood is a sometimes collaborative, usually disunited, and often antagonistic worldwide collection of movie studios, TV studios (big and small), distribution companies, creative agencies, producers, and artists of all kinds. Leaders from each of these ranks routinely shift from one role to another.
Many of these people and companies already embrace tech. In his post titled An Accelerator for Entertainment, Nick DeMartino suggests that some of Hollywood's forward thinkers should fund an entertainment accelerator of their own. This is an interesting idea, and I know it will appeal to many tech companies.
Of course there are leaders in Hollywood who are trying to cling to rights and distribution models that are changing underneath them. This is nothing new -- TV, VCRs, DVDs, and now Streaming and YouTube all looked to some like Hollywood-killers. In every industry there are people who resist change and others who embrace it.
Just yesterday Techcrunch TV (which is itself an example of content distribution disruption!) published Greg Barto's interview with Brent Weinstein and Eric Kuhn of UTA, one of Hollywood's most powerful creative agencies. They talk about their excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunities new technology will bring. When disruptive tech arrives in Hollywood, it initially looks like a threat, but eventually the revenue from the new technology becomes too enticing and industry and power structure shifts until the people who embraced the shift become leaders. Maybe there's a movie idea in there: the sheep in wolf's clothing...
2) Technology will make Hollywood richer.
The issue that always gets in the way of change is fear. Fear of losing power. Fear of losing revenue. Of course, this fear is also always justified - change usually does mean a shift and the loss of revenue in one arena. However, once license and distribution rights have realigned, this fear changes to excitement as opportunities for new revenue are discovered. I don't have a crystal ball, but I believe that the future of Hollywood includes an exciting period where content producers and owners can close the gap between themselves and their customers, driven by technology like Nanocrowd's.
With new technology and a new distribution model, the studios could actually reach the business model they envisioned a century ago -- a much closer relationship between their content and their consumers. There will be lots of disruption along the way, with some individuals and companies failing and others succeeding, but once it settles out, there will be plenty of entertainment being consumed generating plenty of revenue for the people who can see where we are going.
1) We love quality, high-production-value entertainment!
And the number one reason Hollywood won't die is that we love it! Sure, entertainment attention spans are dropping and there will be more short content competing with traditional movie and TV formats. Of course, social networking will change the way we share and enjoy entertainment.
Even so, without the commercial mashup we call Hollywood, how would movies like Avatar or Inception be produced? How would parents and their children laugh together at Rio or Rango? Who would take us on adventures like Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean? From movies to TV and even advertising, we depend on the sophisticated, expensive production values of Hollywood. YouTube videos are wonderfully fun and funny, but they just don't transport us the way Hollywood can.
posted by Roderic March