Are the studios following newspapers and broadcast networks into obsolescence?
It's a dramatic headline. I'll grant you that.
After all, right now, it's just speculation, and from only one source. But the publication of the rumor that Paramount and Sony might be considering a merger was all it took to send Hollywood's behind-the-scenes rumor mill spinning today. My phone rang at least five times with people ready to declare the deal "DONE!" and with people telling me that the story is further along than just speculation. When pressed, no one could actually pin down enough fact for me to say this is anything but a rumor, but even the rumor is worth considering.
What would it mean if Paramount and Sony really did merge?
Honestly? I think it's the beginning of the end if that happens. And not just for those two studios, but for what we know right now as the studio system.
I said as much today on Twitter, and several people outright dismissed that possibility, but anyone who thinks that the studios are in any way permanent is wrong. All you have to do is look at what's happening with newspapers and the broadcast networks right now.
And, yes, I think broadcast networks are on the way out. You don't think NBC handing over an hour of prime time every night to a talk show is a white flag begging for surrender? Because it is. Every year, they lose ground to alternative broadcasting, including internet. The market of viewers is, I think, actually expanding, but it's going in the strangest of directions, and the studios and the networks and the newspapers all represent the same thing... established pay models that feel like they no longer make sense from the consumer side. Or at least, not the same sense they once made. The audience has changed. Their needs have changed. The way they consume media has changed. The way they want to consume their media will change, and you need to be ahead of it, not behind it. This summer is a wheezing phlegmy wet cry for help, for the most part. Even the best summer movies out there, like "Star Trek" in my opinion or "Pelham" in some opinions, are familiar fare in some way. Pixar's "Up" is a lovely original vision... from the Pixar brand, as sturdy and unopposed at this point as any brand name can be. Safety is the name of the game and what is safe is an increasingly difficult thing to define.
[more after the jump]