Following the ouster of Rich Ross as chairman of Disney Studios, UCLA Professor Emeritus Howard Suber posted a recent article about an influential investor who wrote a report to the Paramount Studios board entitled, “What’s Wrong With The Film Industry?”
Here are some of his main points:
-The constant turnover of the production head of the studio is disastrous.
-The conflict and turnover caused by the buying and selling of companies causes confusion, uncertainty, and weakens morale in the production areas.
-Authority is not clearly defined.
-Overhead is indefensibly high.
-Budget estimates are not complete or accurate when shooting begins.
-Budgets are a joke, since they are exceeded with impunity.
-Shooting schedules are disregarded; scripts are not ready when shooting begins.
-The write-off on stories and contracts is enormous. Screenplay costs are excessive.
-Producers hold exorbitant contracts, and there is no relationship between a producer’s salary and the box-office success of his pictures.
The analyst concluded that it would probably be a smart move to put someone in charge as Head of Production who actually had extensive film-making experience.
The analyst was Joseph P. Kennedy, father of J.F.K., who was involved in both Pathe and RKO. The report was written in 1936.
It’s hard to know whether to be surprised, disheartened or amused that so much hasn’t changed over the last 76 years. It will be interesting ( or gut-wrenching, depending on your mental vantage point ) to see where it all leads us.
Will the continuing tide of runaway production be Hollywood’s final undoing, or are we all on a big merry-go-round that brings us back to the same spot with a calculable regularity?
Suber writes an excellent blog entitled The Power of Film where he posts some very insightful articles. Check them out.