18 December, 2008

"Are there upsides to the downturn for film?"

Screen Daily:

"The film market needs to change. I have been told it will never change but two years ago the same thing would have been said about the financial markets."

So says Gennaro Buonocore, managing director of media markets at electronic interdealer broker Icap. The company has put its money where its mouth is and is turning its attention to independent film.

The notion there are upsides to the downturn is intriguing. For all the wishful thinking that cinema can ride the recession by cashing in on its role as an escape from day-to-day misery, cutbacks are already biting across the industry.

Job losses have been announced at Viacom's NBC Universal, retail closures in the UK have hit vital distribution of Christmas DVDs and all at the end of a year in which markets have been limping along.

At the very least, the brief, if unrealistic, period of hope that saw hedge funds pump $12bn into Hollywood looks a long time ago. Restructuring and cost-cutting are taking precedence over the innovation in which so much hope had been invested. But are there ways in which the industry can actually gain from a recession?

The argument goes beyond the important but facile point that when people are miserable they have historically enjoyed the escapism of the movie house. Even if that is true, box-office queues do not make for a healthy industry in general - except in the important respect that it reminds the industry that demand for entertainment is increasing even if our capacity to service it is being tested.

Talking about green shoots before the main recession kicks in seems counter-intuitive. Yet many of the critical issues affecting film were in place before the newspapers began churning out news of bank crashes and mortgage crises."

Article in full

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