The concerns a few years ago over the marriage between filmmaker creativity and technology gurus have all but been dispelled. At Variety’s ShowBiz Expo West over the weekend, execs from both industries said the relationship is stronger than ever, driving both the entertainment biz and the technology providers to greater heights.
“This two-way symbiotic relationship is important. The creatives drive our technology development,” said Blake White, Silicon Graphics’ director of entertainment marketing. “When you have a person as creative as George Lucas, who has an idea rolling around in his head for 20 years, and 20 years later he can recreate it in form that completes a thought, it’s really a very powerful statement,” White added, referring to the reissue of “Star Wars” earlier this year.
Friday’s keynote panel, “What Makes a Blockbuster: Creativity or Technology?” kicked off the three-day-event at the Los Angeles Convention Center, which, based on figures from Friday and Saturday’s traffic, saw more than 24,000 attendees — a 20% increase over last year’s Expo. (The figure does not include more than 500 exhibs.)
This year’s attendees did experience a shaky moment. On Friday afternoon, a cable from an exhibitor’s crane snapped, causing the 76-foot structure to fall, injuring five attendees. All five individuals were hospitalized and released later that evening.
Separately, a panel of top industry marketers on Saturday concurred that the rising popularity of the Internet is causing fits for studio spin-doctors. At a symposium entitled “To Market, To Market,” execs said that one devious teenager could potentially scuttle a carefully planned multimillion-dollar marketing strategy by putting erroneous or negative information into cyberspace.
Another challenge, according to the execs, relates to the growing knowledge of box offices numbers. Many consumers, even in small markets, now focus on Monday’s numbers instead of critics’ reviews. Chris Pula, Warner Bros.’ prez of theatrical marketing, first joked, but made a serious point that even his parents in Kalamazoo, Mich., look at the rankings when deciding which pic to see.
Liz Manne, Fine Line Features’ exec VP of marketing, also predicted that the film biz will shortly see a tracking force — similar to music’s Soundscan — that will solve the problem of variations in B.O. figures.
Lack of TV writing talent
At a panel on TV production, in response to query from an aspiring scribe, producer Alan Spencer said the opportunity window for writers has opened, due to the paucity of talent and new ideas.
“This season coming up is not expected to yield any hits — maybe one in the best timeslot,” Spencer said. “If you have abilities and you’re pushed properly, you will get in.”
On the ShowBiz Expo floor, exhibitors were not so much satisfied with numbers of attendees, but with the quality of the traffic.
“The last two days have been some of the busiest days for Shotmaker,” said Lyle Christensen, a manager with Camera Platforms Intl. Inc., also called The Shotmaker Co. “There are a lot of people here and they are the right kind of people.”
On Friday evening at the Regal Biltmore Hotel, Peter Bart, VP and editor-in-chief of Daily Variety and Variety, presented this year’s ShowBiz Expo Hall of Fame Award via videotape to producers Anne and Arnold Kopelson, in recognition of the pair’s 17 Academy Award noms, Oscar for “Platoon” and $1.25 billion in worldwide B.O. receipts.
In accepting the award, Arnold Kopelson gave credit to cast and crew members, acknowledging “all the people that made us look so good.” Kopelson told Bart the locomotive/bus crash scene in “The Fugitive” was the most memorable moment in their careers.