Sam Mendes Speaks Out About Tinseltown Recession
When the economic downturn hit last year, it seemed impossible to predict whether or not it would be a boon for Hollywood, or a recession. After all, the only other point of historical comparison is the Great Depression, during which time movie attendance actually increased exponentially. It goes without saying that the major studios were hoping that trend would be repeated. And, for the most part, it has. But even with a record-breaking summer at the box-office, many of the major studios are being left in the lurch with DVD sales that continue to weaken due to competition from other markets.
Everything from free online streaming and downloads to the increasing popularity of Redbox kiosks, which charge customers $1/night, have cut into profits and, at this point, the studio’s are fighting a desperate uphill battle to increase revenue. Like much of corporate America, the major studios has been experiencing lay-offs, downsizing and various court battles (their legal-wrangling with Redbox being the most high-profile).
The biggest way that Hollywood is hedging its bets, though, is by sticking to the tried and true formula of making blockbusters that can guarantee a huge opening weekend. In this age of Transformers and G.I. Joe, the studios have become increasingly weary of mid-budget, which cater to adult audiences.
Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, The Reader) recently spoke out about the increasing difficulty of getting serious films made in Hollywood these days. According to WENN he said,
They’re serious films, they have something to say, they’re the ones that are almost impossible to make… the movies in the middle are almost getting squeezed out, which is the big dramas, the movies that do cost a bit of money… with well-known actors in them.
Mendes says he has adapted to the recession by cutting costs. For his last film, Away We Go, he says he was careful to make sure the production was:
spent, a feat which he accomplished with the casting of smaller name stars like John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (SNL) in the lead roles. If this trend continues, don’t expect to see Revolutionary Road 2 anytime soon. Unless, of course, it’s with Rainn Wilson and Rachel Dratch.