×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

George Lucas & Steven Spielberg: Studios Will Implode; VOD Is the Future

Moguls predict tentpole "meltdown," pricey pics and empathetic games.

Looking into their crystal ball, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted the imminent arrival of a radically different entertainment landscape, including pricey movie tickets, a vast migration of content to video-on-demand and even programmable dreams.

Speaking on a panel at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Spielberg and Lucas took a grim view of the future of the majors and predicted theatrical motion pictures will become a niche market.

“They’re  going for the gold,” said Lucas of the studios. “But that isn’t going to work forever. And as a result they’re getting narrower and narrower in their focus. People are going to get tired of it. They’re not going to know how to do anything else.”

Spielberg noted that because so many forms of entertainment are competing for attention, they would rather spend $250 million on a single film than make several personal, quirky projects.

“There’s eventually going to be a big meltdown,” Spielberg said. “There’s going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen of these mega-budgeted movies go crashing into the ground and that’s going to change the paradigm again.”

Lucas predicted that after that meltdown, “You’re going to end up with fewer theaters, bigger theaters with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies will cost 50 bucks or 100 or 150 bucks, like what Broadway costs today, or a football game. It’ll be an expensive thing. … (The movies) will sit in the theaters for a year, like a Broadway show does. That will be called the ‘movie’ business.”

“There’ll be big movies on a big screen, and it’ll cost them a lot of money. Everything else will be on a small screen. It’s almost that way now. ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Red Tails’ barely got into theaters. You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movies into theaters.”

Both see “quirky” or more personal content migrating to streaming video-on-demand, where niche audiences can be aggregated. “What used to be the movie business, in which I include television and movies … will be Internet television,” said Lucas.

“The question will be: Do you want people to see it, or do you want people to see it on a big screen?” he added.

The longtime friends appeared on a panel on the future of entertainment at the grand opening of the Interactive Media building at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, along with Don Mattrick of Microsoft. Julia Boorstin of CNBC moderated.

But Mattrick took a back seat as the two old movie pros dominated the hour-long talk, teasing each other at times and agreeing at others. When Lucas complained about how hard it was to get “Lincoln” or “Red Tails” into theaters, Spielberg quipped, “I got more people into ‘Lincoln’ than you got into ‘Red Tails,'” drawing guffaws from the crowd.

Addressing the evolution of vidgames, Spielberg said so far, games have not been able to create the same empathy with onscreen characters that narrative forms have. Though gamers might empathize with characters in the cut scenes between game play, he said, “The second you get the controller something turns off in the heart, and it becomes a sport.” Lucas was more sanguine, saying the game industry can and will create empathetic characters, but it hasn’t so far because it’s been driven by hard-core gamers who enjoy onscreen violence.

“The big game of the next five years will be a game where you empathize very strongly with the characters and it’s aimed at women and girls,” Lucas said. “They like empathetic games. That will be a huge hit and as a result that will be the ‘Titanic’ of the game industry, where suddenly you’ve done an actual love story or something and everybody will be like ‘where did that come from?’ Because you’ve got actual relationships instead of shooting people.”

But Spielberg, looking farther ahead, said he thinks the real shift will come when game controllers are obsolete and games are controlled by Kinect-like devices that completely immerse the player in the story. “I believe need to get rid of the proscenium,” Spielberg said. “We’re never going to be totally immersive as long as we’re looking at a square, whether it’s a movie screen or whether it’s a computer screen. We’ve got to get rid of that and we’ve got to put the player inside the experience, where no matter where you look you’re surrounded by a three-dimensional experience. That’s the future.”

The most out-there suggestion for the future of entertainment came from Lucas, who sees brain implants within the relatively near future. He noted such implants are already being used to control artificial limbs; they just haven’t been used for entertainment yet.

“The next step is to be able to control your dreams,” he said. “You’ll just tap into a different part of your brain. You’re just going to put a hat on or plug into the computer and create your own world. … We’ll be able to do the dream thing 10, 15 years from now. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky thing.”

Asked by Boorstin what that might mean for the Entertainment Industry, he said: “You still have to tell stories.  Some people will want to be in a game… and some people will want to have a story told to them. Those are two different things. But the content always stays the same. The content hasn’t changed in 10,000 years.”

More TV

  • Netflix to Amend ‘The Devil Next

    Netflix to Amend 'The Devil Next Door' Documentary After Backlash (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix will amend elements of its documentary series “The Devil Next Door” after the Polish prime minister and others complained to CEO Reed Hastings about the show, which centers on the trial of John Demjanjuk who was accused of being a notorious Ukrainian concentration camp guard known as Ivan the Terrible. Polish premier Mateusz Morawiecki [...]

  • Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New

    Stephen Colbert's 'Late Show' Sets New Head Writer Team

    Stephen Colbert has expanded the circle of people helping to make the ultimate decision about what the funniest things are for him to say each night on CBS’ “Late Show.” Three writers/producers who have been with Colbert for years will get new duties at his late-night program. Ariel Dumas, a longtime writer for Colbert, has [...]

  • Kacey Musgraves poses in the press

    CMA Awards: What Kacey, Maren, Garth, Blake and Dan + Shay Had to Say Backstage

    Backstage at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, CMA Awards winners, performers and presenters came back to meet the press after their appearances, including Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton, Dan + Shay, Ashley McBryde and Luke Combs. Garth Brooks was named entertainer of the year for the seventh time, and during his acceptance speech, he [...]

  • Killing Eve Sandra Oh Jodie Comer

    SAG Awards: How High-Profile TV Ensembles Increase Individual Performer Category Competition

    While this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards saw categories dominated by multiple performers from the same show (think “Game of Thrones,” which had at least one player represented in each major drama acting category, as well as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Fleabag,” whose on-screen talent nabbed spots in almost all the comedy categories), that trend [...]

  • BROOKLYN NINE-NINE -- "Honeymoon" Episode 601

    ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Renewed for Season 8 at NBC

    NBC has handed an early renewal to “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Season 7 of the cop comedy isn’t set to premiere until Feb. 6 2020, but the network has already seen fit to order an eighth season.  During season 6 (its first on NBC after being canceled by Fox in 2018), “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” averaged a 1.2 rating [...]

  • Ted Sarandos - Netflix

    Ted Sarandos Says Disney Plus Launch Changes 'Nothing' for Netflix

    Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos claims he’s not getting distracted by huge competitors — like Disney — rumbling into the company’s streaming turf. The exec was asked what has changed for Netflix with the Nov. 12 launch of Disney Plus, which the Mouse House boasted as having signed up over 10 million users so [...]

  • Kristen Stewart Actors on Actors

    Kristen Stewart Reveals She Loves 'Naked and Afraid': 'That Is High-End Reality TV'

    Kristen Stewart (“Seberg”) loves “Naked and Afraid” and wondering what shoes smell like. Stewart discussed her tastes in reality TV and interest in Shia LaBeouf’s (“Honey Boy”) shoes during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” LaBeouf began the interview by asking Stewart what she likes to watch in her free time. LaBeouf mentioned [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content