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Denby on the Movie Future

Every so often a film critic flies to Hollywood, interviews a few studio heads about what's happening and writes up a good solid term paper. The New Yorker's David Denby has done several of these state of the film business reports. They're strange to read because for those of us on the front lines it all seems terribly familar. Yes, that's true, and? Very obvious. And as always, Denby's sorry to let the old ways go.

I too am horrified at the idea of watching movies on iPods. My daughter isn't doing it, though—she watches her downloads, mostly network TV shows, on her laptop, as well as her Netflix rentals, which makes a lot more sense. She's quite independent. No fool she. She sees through most of the hype.

I maintain that one reason the studios did slightly better last year was that they hustled a little more, diversified their films, tried a few more experiments (Borat, say), and didn't rely on the same old ways to get their product across to the consumer. It worked. They stayed competitive.

Digital moviemaking and exhibition are inevitable—and an improvement, really, in the end, on what we have now. But 35 mm filmmaking, prints and exhibition will continue to be available—for a while.

I love the Arclight and I love Denby's dream of luring adults to civilized theatrical movies. It could happen. They're the ones in the moviegoing habit, after all.

The thing about the folks in Hollywood is that while they're hanging on to their lucrative jobs while they last—they will do what they have to do to survive. They may not move fast—but when push comes to shove, they will change. More easily than some folks, like Denby, who have both feet firmly planted in the past.

UPDATE: The New York Observer attacks Hollywood's 2007 intentions with wit and brio: and they really like Rocky Balboa!


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  • Risky Biz blog takes a deep, daily look at the film industry's ups, downs and deals from around the world and the heart of Hollywood. It is edited by media and entertainment journalist Steven Zeitchik, with contributions from The Hollywood Reporter's worldwide team of film editors and reporters. Zeitchik is a Los Angeles-based writer for THR and also has written for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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