Even Straight-to-Video Flops Had Script Readers at One Point

As we know, the rise of television did not destroy the movie industry, but instead changed how the movie industries created their movies and advertised them. The rise of “New Hollywood” was marked by the premiere of Jaws (1975). In the 1980s, the number of movie screens and the amount of money movies were making increased dramatically. The rise of Netflix has not completely destroyed the movie theater industry…yet.

The Hollywood studios once controlled entire film and TV networks, especially in the 1920s-40s classical era. Back then, the Big Five studios who basically owned everything were MGM, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and RKO. They not only produced and directed films, but also owned their own theaters. Universal, Columbia, and United Artists also directed large budget films, but didn’t own their own theaters. (Schatz 15)

“By combining movies, broadcast television, video, foreign video, foreign television, merchandizing, theme parks, soundtrack albums, books and heaven knows what else, Mr. Eisner has devised a new form of vertical integration that takes virtually all the risk out of movie software.” “When risk is vanquished, when even awful movies can be profitable, the stars lose their leverage” (Schatz 14) This reminds me of every terrible straight-to-video or straight-to-the-Disney-Channel movie ever made. If they are advertised enough, even the bad movies will get recognized and merchandised (Camp Rock 2, Planes).

Synergy, or tight diversification, was a function of the studios’ efforts to become more efficient, while taking advantage of new delivery systems, and exploiting blockbusters. The Disney Channel was launched in 1983, and straight-to-video and TV movies became popular, along with the first Disney stores. There’s something I learned from reading these chapters. The Disney Channel has been around since the 80s??? The first “Disney Channel Original Series” was Good Morning, Mickey! It looks as weird as it sounds.

In addition to the Disney Channel, new studios, such as TriStar, owned by Coca Cola, also emerged in the 80s.

Essentially, the big, conglomerate-owned film companies dominate the industry. Those poor little independent films barely have a chance in the longrun and box-office. Of course, any film company will have the same, longwinded system of production and distribution.

The article mentions “media convergence”, which is always becoming more technologically advanced. For example, you can now stream Netflix on your phone, something which was previously limited only to computers. Look how far we’ve come from movies being broadcast on TV, and what’s it called? MySpace?

Bart: “What are they??” Lisa: “They’re like televisions, but they just keep going!”

Film production is a “project enterprise” because all of the work to make a film, from concept to development to production, to post-production, takes so long.

An interesting job that I didn’t know about is the position of script reader. Script readers or script analysts read the scripts before they go to the studio execs, producers, and agents, summarize the screenplay, rate it, and finally recommend it or don’t. These people are interns and aspiring screenwriters, and get paid to review scripts! Sounds fun! Does that still exist?

“The bitter script reader”

Another interesting thing I found in McDonald and Wasko’s edited anthology, The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry was that E.T. was developed by Columbia Pictures, but distributed by Universal. Who gets the most money? Columbia abandoned it, and Universal picked it up, so clearly Universal won the rights to E.T.

One of the most important things when developing a film is, of course, location. The Boston film commission occasionally has good instincts.

The pilot episode for American Odyssey was filmed in downtown Boston (I was a background extra in March 2014). It was clearly cheaper to film in Boston than in New York City, but they went to a lot of trouble to create an illusion. They had NYC taxi cabs, NYC police uniforms, everything possible to make Boston look like New York. After the pilot episode, they filmed the rest of the series in NYC, sadly. Maybe if they had stayed in Boston, they would have saved enough money to film a second season! And our production workers would have gotten more work too. And the background extras could get more work on something other than Ted 2.

Peter Facinelli and Me! Pilot Episode, American Odyssey

Peter Facinelli and Me! Pilot Episode, American Odyssey, NBC

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