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Filmism.net Dispatch February 17, 2013

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I'm not going to say I predicted it and it's not rocket science, when people don't buy your product your business goes bad. After talking last time about how Dreamworks Animation's Rise of the Guardians performed badly enough to cause an investment write-down, it was reported soon after that the company was laying off 500 people.

I don't wish unemployment on anybody, but this might be the tough love the company needs to abandon the production line approach I was talking about and let movies with personalities gestate. In fact they might already be looking in a different direction. According to a follow up report, they're teaming with Netflix for an original kids' series.

Speaking of Netflix, this might be the time we look back on in decades to come as the beginning of a new era. David Fincher's House of Cards, produced by and streamed over the service, has been very well received, but it underscores a deeper truth in the media market.

Netflix is the new Blockbuster/Video Ezy. It's a retailer, a distributor, completely decoupled from the content. But unlike those bricks and mortar stores hiring plastic boxes or discs and all going broke by the bushel, everybody's using Netflix, giving them a massive amount of power in the market.

Naomi Klein's book No Logo talked about how the retail power of Walmart had the power to make record companies change covers or album titles, and while Netflix hasn't shown motives that seem censorial yet, it's amassed enough of a fortune to say 'hey, let's make stuff instead of just showing it'.

And what better company to do it? It's closer to consumer tastes than the studios who make movies are because it knows exactly what millions of people watch and when, and it doesn't have to share revenue with exhibitors, because it's the studio and theatre chain all in one. It does remind me of an article I did once on the movies' history of antitrust, and it's not the first retailer to open a content arm (Amazon did it with book publishing), but it's definitely a brave new world in the making.

I also thought you might like this article I did a few years back about the dollars and cents of making movies. And while I'm sharing links with you, here's a vintage review I wrote of one of my favourite movies ever, The Crow.

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