Hollywood: 1970s Vs. 2000: Studios and Audiences

Interview with producer Laura Ziskin

In the 1970s, one could make a movie and it would find its audience, mainly from word-of-mouth. That was how movies became successful in the theatrical marketplace. Even a movie like Rocky opened on half a dozen screens, then went wider and played for six months.

But now everything is about marketing and being No.1 at the box-office. Everyone wants to be No. 1–it’s our winner culture.

Some movies have done well without being No. 1–Pretty Woman.

The most influential change in the business: Entertainment news has become popular and financially successful.

The cornerstone of enter. news is the announcement of the grosses (on Sunday morning, before the weekend is over).

That has filtered through our culture and created an appetite–no obsession–in the audience to know each weekend before it’s over how much money a movie makes.

It has become a contest for who is going to win the weekend.

Studios make movies that they could market that would be hits before they opened

The business has become more homogenous. What matters more than the quality or artistic execution is the marketability of movies.

But the movies that the studios want to make are the ones that are easier to market.

For the indie world and the audience, that’s too bad. The effect is cataclysmic

Now actors can demand more in salary because the studios need to have something that would ensure their opening–that began the escalation that has not stopped.

One lesson the studios have learned is that they can pay stars more, but that doesn’t guarantee a strong opening. That, in turn, has led to more of a desire for brands, which can attract an audience before the movie even opens.

There’s more recognition today that older people go to the movies, too.

My generation, the baby boomers, still have moviegoing habits.

If something is made for older audiences, they’ll go–if you build it, it will come.