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Filmism.net Dispatch September 10, 2015

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This isn't the first time I've opened either the Filmism.net Dispatch or another article about film with William Goldman's immortal words; 'In Hollywood, nobody knows anything'.

Extremely visible films considered to be sure bets crash and burn. No-budget indies that get little studio support grow lives of their own and conquer the box office (it's the model that gave us both Jaws and Star Wars). The same f%$king superhero origin story makes a billion dollars every time it comes out.

In response, changes are afoot, and as a film reporter I'm very aware of how they might affect my future employment prospects. They'll affect you too, of course, by what appears at your local multiplex and beyond, and you might be interested to know where things are at.

First of all, two studios who've been on top plenty of times have been disconcertingly quiet over the last year or so. Even after the high profile hacking late in 2014, Sony just couldn't seem to pull off a hit. When a seemingly assured money-spinner like Pixels (retro game nostalgia, Adam Sandler) flounders, you can imagine Sony executives asking the sky what they've done to deserve it.

Although they didn't have any high profile corporate issues, Paramount went similarly quiet on releases. There were only five high-end Paramount movies all year prior to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and few of them set the box office alight. In fact the one sure bet in the stable (Terminator Genisys) was a box office disappointment, critics not thinking much of it either. Mission Impossible has done spectacularly well and might be staving off emergency measures, but there's not much else on offer until the next Paranormal Activity come October.

Paramount has been pretty quiet since it lost the rights to distribute Marvel movies when Disney bought the comic movie powerhouse, and it's been several years since Sony had a very full slate, but recent news that both studios are ramping up more movies is gratifying to read.

In Sony's case, the company is keen to put the past behind it, and with the former chief who oversaw such terrible times (Amy Pascal) having gone solo, new head Tom Rothman has greenlit 16 films over the next two years (more).

Paramount also admitted to having a 'tough year', and CEO Philippe Dauman of parent company Viacom told an earnings conference more movies would come next year than the studio put out in 2015.

An even more interesting case is Warner Bros. I admit to a soft spot for the studio because this year it's not only put out a truckload of films, it seems to have had a policy of publicising them hard, which has put a lot more food on my table than most freelance gigs I have.

When studio head Kevin Tsujihara told the CinemaCon conference back in April Warner Bros was reacting to the tough market by making and releasing more movies, the crowd applauded. But this story wonders whether such a strategy has been worth it thanks to more than a few WB movies that have done lower business than anyone expected.

I for one hope Tsujihara, Sony and Paramount stick to their guns. The media industry around the world is still suffering, and the US economy is still clawing back out of the dark days of the GFC. More movies all round means more opportunity for me to make a living, but one of the most common complaints you hear from punters is that movies are only on for a week or so before the next one arrives.

What do you think, are there too many movies?

There were certainly too many for me over the last few weeks, but I did catch up with Red Tails, the George Lucas-flavoured WWII story about the Tuskegee Airmen, which was great and awful in equal measure.

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine was a well made film by rock star documentarian Alex Gibney, but after all the books, articles and at least two other movies, is there any more we need to know about the guy?

Robin Williams' final live action film Boulevard is understated, quiet and sad, and I finally saw one of those movies that's been on my list forever, the late 80s Australian crocodile creature feature Dark Age.

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