Perils of Predictions

Showbiz power players are nothing if not opinionated, but their predictions about the future don't always hold up. From the new book "Inventing the Movies," here's a look at some particularly misguided comments about new technologies.

Showbiz power players are nothing if not opinionated, but their predictions about the future don’t always hold up. From the new book “Inventing the Movies,” here’s a look at some particularly misguided comments about new technologies.

“If we put out a screen machine, there will be a use for maybe about 10 of them in the whole United States. With that many screen machines, you could show the pictures to everyone in the country — and then it would be done. Let’s not kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”

— Thomas Edison on movie projectors. At the time, he had a thriving business making viewing devices called Kinetoscopes, which showed movies to one person at a time.

“The public will never accept it.”

— Kodak founder George Eastman on movies with sound

“… Sound is a passing fancy. It won’t last.”

— MGM exec Irving Thalberg, after seeing “The Jazz Singer” in 1927.

“Films made expressly for theatrical distribution should not be funneled into television, nor should big-name personalities be encouraged to appear too frequently on video, because the public will tire of seeing them and thus their pictures will suffer at the box office.”

— A group of 30 Hollywood producers and cinema owners, 1951. Turns out that star appearances on Leno, Letterman, or Conan actually help ticket sales.

“I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.”

— Jack Valenti, 1982. Within a decade of that statement, studios were making more from homevideo than from theatrical box office.

“Think about it: You cannot pay the rent posting videos on YouTube.”

— Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone. Distributing video on the Internet will absolutely pay the rent. Just give it a few years.

Click here to read an excerpt from “Inventing the Movies.”

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