Spielberg predicts we'll pay more to see blockbusters

Steven Spielberg predicts that the movie industry will move to a two-tier pricing structure - with consumers charged a premium to see blockbusters and a lower price for other films.

The legendary movie director said it was inevitable that a series of multi-million blockbusters would flop, causing a monumental shift in the industry, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Speaking at the opening of a new media center at the University of Southern California, Spielberg's comments were echoed by his friend and peer, movie producer George Lucas.

Spielberg talked of an impending "implosion" in the film industry, whereby a half dozen or so $250 million movies flop at the box office and alter the industry forever. He said this would lead to price variances at movie theaters, where "you're gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln."

He also said that Lincoln came "this close" to being an HBO movie instead of a theatrical release.

Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot and suggested that films might follow the 'Broadway play model', whereby fewer are released but they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher.

He said: "There'll be big movies on a big screen, and it'll cost them a lot of money. Everything else will be on a small screen.'

Time of upheaval
Lucas and Spielberg told USC students that they are learning about the industry at an extraordinary time of upheaval, where even big name directors struggle to get movies into theaters.

Some ideas from young filmmakers "are too fringe-y for the movies," Spielberg said. Lucas talked of the high cost of marketing movies and the urge to make them for the masses while ignoring niche audiences. He called cable television "much more adventurous" than film nowadays.

Spielberg also praised Netflix, but said he had 'nothing to announce' when asked if he planned to make original content for the online streaming service which has started to generate its own content.

Two-tier pricing
So based on Spielberg's predictions of cinema ticket prices being linked to movie budgets, which blockbusters would have faced an extra premium on ticket prices and what lower budget films would have been cheaper to see?

Premium price blockbusters
  • Pirates of the Caribbean series
  • The Hobbit
  • Spider Man 3
  • Harry Potter series
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Avatar

Budget-friendly films
  • Lost in Translation
  • Napoleon Dynamite
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Juno
  • Slum Dog Millionaire
  • The Kings Speech
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