The changing paradigm of storytelling in Hollywood and beyond
Once upon a time, Hollywood movies were where innovative storytelling lived and TV, the domain of romcoms, sitcoms, classic reruns, zany shit and channel changing crap.
One of the underlying themes in Ben Frisk’s new book The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies is that this norm has been turned on its head. A polar shift on where creative storytelling is happening today. And why.
How movie theaters are now the domain of massive franchises that can take advantage of the large format technology and a shared community around an event. With the mid to high-budget innovative projects moved to TV.
Or, more precisely, moved to the domain of the new studios, Amazon and Netflix.
Ben does a terrific job of putting the confidential industry numbers and personnel dirt revealed in the massive Sony Guardians of Peace email hack in context.
He also touches on how the business model of telling stories impacts creativity and diversity of expression. How risk is rethought when the platform is digital, endlessly broad and data-mined, especially when success has nothing to do with how many tickets or bags of popcorn are sold.
This is the truly fascinating piece with cross industry implications and prophetic to a changing relationship potentially to how art, culture and business coexist.
Movies in the traditional Hollywood system used a basic P & L where every project was evaluated on cost, return and risk before a green light to proceed.
It determined what got made and what we saw in the theater. And how stars got paid.
Not with the new studios.
Netflix doesn’t sell tickets, it sells subscriptions. Amazon sells toilet paper, refrigerators and now kale and coconut oil.
Once you move the profit model away from each creative project, the game changes completely.
Every piece of content yet another layer in the stack of diverse creative that feeds the massive needs for customer retention and acquisition for these now adjacent businesses.
Where you get Transparent as a bonus for belonging to Prime, along with an endless variety of entertainment types.
These new studios have no box office numbers, no marginal cost of watching for the customer, and for the most part, no target margin on the creative process itself.
They as well have massive data banks to mine and choose what to fund, who will create it, and who will watch it. And how many times.
Amazon especially is changing everything in its path with its studio.
The writer and producer are more important than the director. The movie star interesting but not necessary to success. And with no box office numbers, there is no more longer payments for residuals, changing the comp structure to a flat often higher one-time fee.
In effect, this challenges the media model, kills the Hollywood profit and loss creative endeavor model, and merges creativity in storytelling as simply part of what is needed to hold current customers and bring in more regardless of what is actually being sold.
If I get innovative, streamed entertainment, 10-15% off all Amazon and Whole Foods purchases with an Amazon Prime credit card, why shouldn’t I do this?
There are learnings here that speak to the role of creativity and content, storytelling and ROI to business in general.
There are glimpses of truth that imply that you can commoditize the very value of a brand as long as you feed the true needs of your customers for stories and entertainment. Something a lot stronger to hold onto than the unique quality of your shoes or salad greens perhaps.
As I write this coming out of NYC Blockchain Week, there appears to be an unexpected analogy to the intersection of creativity and business model there as well.
Business models until the last 3-5 years haven’t really changed in decades.
Facebooks and Twitter are simply old-school advertising models bolted on top of technological innovations they have productized and data mined.
Amazon and Netflix are, in effect, brand new business models, especially as they are using creative storytelling as the means to sell—well everything. Removing the ROI of the creative endeavor while elevating its absolute essential nature to corporate success.
With the crypto world, there is an abstraction of this connection between business model and the creative structure of the community.
Creative capital raises. New structures of orgs. New manners of compensation and an entirely new model of business driven by token fluidity, not simply profit, loss and margins.
I’m taken a bit by surprise here.
I’ve blogged on the lack of innovation in business models as we have changed the game technically.
What I didn’t fully understand is that creativity and storytelling on such a massive scale would be the loss leader that was an essential business piece once the model reconfigured itself. And that the thirst for endless variety in content would change Hollywood and the creative business in its wake.
That in the crypto blockchain case, while obviously different there is an analogous freedom in form that comes with new business models changing organizationally the economics of software development, certainly as well, a creative group endeavor with massive impact.
The takeaway here is that the shift in models, tangible in how Hollywood and their model of business has changed the face of how content is created and financed, is potentially part of greater change. One that will impact how we work, our creative endeavors and our culture that will roll down to every part of our lives.
Think Differently has never felt so real as a motto for the future.