Doctor Eclectic

Doctor Eclectic
Doctor Eclectic

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Film and Wanda

As literally, a card-carrying member of the Industry (in Southern California you don’t need to say the film industry, there is only ONE Industry), especially true now that my AFTRA affiliation has broadened in scope from just AFTRA to SAG-AFTRA, which cost me $99 but may have saved me the $1300 SAG initiation fee, I was intrigued when late last month the WSJ announced that a Chinese conglomerate named Dulian Wanda Group had made an offer to buy AMC Entertainment Holdings.  I was particularly interested because one of my favorite films or all time is A Fish Called Wanda.

What’s that all about?  Apparently no one has actually figured that out.

AMC, which has about 5,000 screens, mostly in mega-plexes and mostly in the U.S. might be looking to sell.  After all, even though attendance crept up in 2011 as did revenues, mostly analysts concluded it was because of 3-D technology and franchise series like Harry Potter and Action Heroes.  But why would China want to buy?  They greatly restrict even the showing of foreign movies in the country.  This year they are increasing the number allowed to a total of 34, up from only 20 a year prior to this February.

I saw my first American movie in a foreign country in Hong Kong, before the turn-over.  It was the first “James Bond” film and was sub-titled in Chinese with a sound track in English.  Later, when I was stationed on Okinawa, I would visit Taiwan and watch Kung Fu films that were made in China, or more accurately Taiwan.  Great stuff, although not anywhere as great as Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers.

But I can’t picture any great influx of Chinese film into U.S. theaters in the near future.  In fact, Wanda’s CEO, Wang Lialin, said as much when he opined that the AMC Board would make those decisions over time.

The event gives pause as to what has happened to change our habit of going to the movies? It is unlikely due to the Recession.  In the Depression, movies were the spark of hope that people used to ward off the despair in their everyday lives.  But then again, they didn’t cost an overage of $7.34 a seat, even adjusted for inflation.

When the composition of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was announced prior to the recent Oscar presentation, we found that it was totally non-representational of the theater-going audience: few women, hopelessly mature in age and with the ethnic diversity of the Augusta National Golf Club.  And these are those who are influential in the Industry.

Is it any wonder that films have become formulaic, with franchised characters and special effects rather than story?

When you factor in how technology now offers us a variety of times, places, and costs to view film, and the blur between television and film, and the streaming of entertainment through our myriad of handheld devises, it is understandable that the Industry is dramatically changing.

It will be interesting to follow what Wanda does with their new acquisition.  What do you think might happen?  Comment me with your thoughts.

In my next post I think I’ll share with you what I have learned about eyebrows.

No comments:

Post a Comment