Tag: Film Industry


What Does The Termination of Paramount Consent Decrees Mean For The Film Industry?

August 22, 2020

Two weeks ago, the film industry was shaken up again. The Paramount Consent Decrees were lifted by a U.S federal judge and this was a slap in the face of the film exhibitors. 2020 hasn’t been the best year for cinemas, to say the least. They needed to close for a long time because of COVID-19 and the (indefinite) postponement of the newest releases. Thanks to the Paramount Consent Decrees, there was still some hope. The decrees were put into place to stop film studios from block-booking and getting full ownership of theatre chains. It also prevented big distribution companies from turning the film industry into monopolistic trade practices. Now that those decrees are coming to an end, there might be much more intervention from major film companies. The question is: Will this be the beginning of the end for the film industry as we know it?

What are the Paramount Consent Decrees?

Before finding out which impact the halt of these decrees has, let’s go back in time and get to know more about it. The Paramount Consent Decrees saw the light of day in 1948 and cut off big production companies from only showing their films in the cinemas that they purchased. They focussed particularly on the Big Five Studio, such as Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and RKO Pictures. While there was still some space for block-booking, it was very restricted as the block size was limited to only five films. The blind buying, buying films before seeing the movies beforehand, wasn’t allowed anymore and an administration board was founded to make sure that these requirements were enforced.

While the Paramount Consent Decrees was institutionalized in 1948, a lot of discussions happened before that. Right after the first draft was drawn up in 1942, the studios disagreed with it and didn’t fully comply with the decree. Therefore they proposed another plan called the “Unity Plan” with which companies could buy theatres and cinemas could still reject the films. This was obviously to the dislike of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers and they came up with a lawsuit. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court chose in favour of the theatres in 1948.

After more than 72 years, this hard-won case is now coming to an end. It’s no surprise that when this news was announced the market value of major American players in the movie industry rose. AMC went up by 14.7%, Cinemark with +5.3%, Marcus with +6.57%, Imax by +3.3% and National CineMedia by +2.4%.

The Paramount Case

What does the termination of Paramount Consent Decrees mean for the film industry?

Lately, we’ve seen that delaying one movie has a massive impact on many different parties. The toppling of the Paramount Consent Decrees is no different. The biggest impact is without a doubt the one felt by the film exhibitors. While at first, they were still, to some degree, able to choose what they wanted to screen and on how many screens but now those terms can be fully dictated by the big production companies. This also impacts the kind of movies that will be shown in cinemas. The blockbusters will gain even more attention, theatre slots, and ‘screen time’ while independent films or films with a lower budget aren’t getting the possibilities they deserve.

It probably will also affect the diversity we see on screen. It might not be the biggest impact because we already see the A-list actors in most of the films but that percentage of big stars will rise even more. This will give upcoming talent almost no chance due to which the diversity of nominees for award ceremonies will decrease.

Other players in the film industry that feel the aftermath of this decision are the production and distribution companies. They now have the chance to buy cinema chains that will only screen their own produced movie. This results in companies trying to monopolize the movie landscape. One of the biggest examples is without a doubt that Amazon could be the possible buyer AMC Theatres, which also includes the Odeon chain in the UK. It’s just the question of whether or not they will go for it.

They probably won’t take that chance and we’ve seen the reason for that during the last few months without even noticing it. It’s because of the rise of streaming services such their Amazon Prime but also Diney+ and Netflix. Those services, which also are production and distribution companies at the same time, saw that people wanted to see their content on their platforms so why should they invest in theatres when they can use the money to improve their platforms and content.

What will the future hold for the cinema and theatre chains?

The future of cinema and theatre chains is so unpredictable. We’re just going to have to wait what impact COVID-19, the upcoming of new streaming services and the ending of the Paramount Decree have. To be continued that’s for sure.

Also Read: BAFTA: Steering Towards Greater Inclusion

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Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

March 25, 2020
Cinema screen

Right now it seems that Covid-19 has affected just about every aspect of our lives. With more extreme measures being introduced every day, every industry is taking big hits. Many are temporarily shutting down completely during the pandemic. The film industry especially has seen major disruption. While a lot of the effects may not truly be revealed until after the pandemic, here are some of the more immediate results.

Releases Delayed

James Bond
Bond has some extra time to die on his hands now (MGM, 2020)

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, people were advised against attending large gatherings, such as concerts and weddings, with many being cancelled or postponed until a later date.

The 007 Franchise is one of the biggest, with the latest instalment carrying lots of positive behind the scenes buzz. In addition, it will also be the swansong for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond. Originally scheduled to release on April 2nd, and at the height of marketing, with the title theme released and press tour about to begin. It will now release in November, a whole eight months later, in light of the Coronavirus situation.

Bond was arguably the biggest release of the summer, but it was shortly followed by several others, including Mulan, Peter Rabbit 2, A Quiet Place 2, Black Widow and ironically Fast 9, as well as some smaller releases.

Perhaps one of the biggest casualties is The New Mutants, which has now been delayed four times, from its original date of April 13th, 2018. Currently, there is no release date, like most of the delayed films, although it could still happen this year.

Productions Stopped

Skydance 2020 Movie
A deadly virus that will affect millions on a global scale seems like something Ethan Hunt and the IMF should have dealt with (Skydance, 2020)

In addition to completed films having their releases delayed, films and many tv shows, are halting production, films like Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”, “Mission Impossible 7” “Jurassic World: Dominion” “The Matrix 4” and the third instalment in the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts” series have all suspended production..This is all done for the health of cast and crew as well as an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

While these delays are understandable, they will likely have knock-on effects. While many of these films are not due for release until next year at the earliest, depending on how long this situation goes on for, this could result in some of, if not all, these films being delayed due to the new timetable.

Film release windows are a delicate science, with studios needing to consider potential competition, as well as the target audience and other factors when releasing a film, so some of these films could have severe delays, such as Fast 9 being delayed by a full year.

Festivals Cancelled

Cannes Film Festival
Could Cannes be Canneclled? (THR,2020)

As part of cancelling large gatherings, many film festivals have been cancelled, including SXSW. This is a major blow to countless independent and smaller budget films that count on the exposure gained from these festivals to get distribution. Cannes is working on a backup plan, a “virtual marketplace” where films can be screened, and presentations from filmmakers. It would also allow for video meetings, for deals to be hashed out and more.

New Releases Streaming

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is just one of several new releases that are available on demand during their theatrical run (Universal, 2020)

With most cinemas closed, the few films that are releasing aren’t bringing in big numbers at the box office. As a result, several studios, like Universal, have released their films online, with some on the same day as they are released in theatres. Frozen 2 and (soon) Onward can also be found on Disney+. While this is a simple and effective solution to the current isolation measures put in place, it does bring into question the future of cinemas and new releases. Traditionally there is a gap of several months between a theatrical release and a film being available on demand. With these extenuating circumstances, this “rule” no longer applies. Christopher Nolan recently wrote a letter in defence of cinemas.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on digital releases in the future. Jason Blum predicts that there will be a change after the pandemic has subsided, with fewer films being given theatrical releases or having shorter runs in theatres. Netflix has encountered this problem, giving The Irishman a short stint in cinemas upon its release in order to qualify for Oscar nominations. This could give streaming another leg up over cinema, if people can watch a new release at home or go to the cinema, which would they choose?

Hopefully, cinemas will still be around for a long time yet after this crisis is over, even if we might have to wait a little longer for some of this year’s big releases.

Also Read: The Simpsons’ Obsession With Films

More: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected the Film Industry (Part 2)

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My Journey From The UK To Bombay

February 12, 2019
Anisa and Shuja Ali

Although I grew up watching Bollywood films, (some prefer to stick to saying Hindi cinema) I am not sure if the realistic me thought that I would ever go out there and work in the industry. During university, I auditioned for a feature film to be shot in India, and to my surprise was selected and flew to Mumbai for a look test (screen test). This lead to a three-month workshop process, but unfortunately, due to differences in opinion between producer/director, a couple of us did not get to do the film in the end. Though this was heart-wrenchingly awful for me at the time, I realised this was just the beginning of a new journey, which would later show me, in India, anything is possible.

A changing Bollywood

I was recently featured in Anita Rani’s BBC 2 documentary titled “Bollywood, The World’s Biggest Film Industry“, we had a very candid chat talking about politics, culture, and sexism. The Indian film industry is the largest in the world and attracts thousands of people to the city of Mumbai every year – not only from smaller towns around India but from all over the world. Mumbai, at present, is more cosmopolitan than its ever been before. And with distribution channels like Netflix and Amazon now running, they’re also creating original Hindi content shows for audiences around the world. This surge is helping bridge the gap between the west and east. On a more positive note, we are also seeing more emerging actors on film. This is definitely refreshing. a major difference I noticed six years go in India, was that this did not exist as it does today. Fast forward to 2019 and the game is changing.

Anisa in BBC Documentary “Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry” (Instagram)

What’s the difference

As an outsider and an actor born and raised in the UK, there are definitely differences I recognised then, which still exist now. The positive being that web-based platforms are allowing new talent to come through, in what most definitely is an industry based on nepotism. I am super stoked that I have had opportunities that maybe wouldn’t have been possible when I first went out there, as well as seeing fellow actor friends thrive as they have never before.

Nonetheless, there are a few observations I have made, which I argue is still lacking in the Hindi film industry. The major one for me is work ethic. Through education in the UK and the work I have done professionally, be it on stage, or short films, I can definitely say the work ethic has been fantastic. There is a respect for all levels of cast and crew and no differentiation of treatment between actors, that I have noticed.

In India, the A-list actors are definitely treated in a different capacity to the crew and extras. Extras are often never paid and are sold the opportunity based on it being be part of a big budget Bollywood film. The concept of minimum wage, or specific unions such as Spotlight, do not really exist [in the way it does in the UK]. There are a few unions, however, if mistreatment has happened on a production, or a production pulls you out after you signing contracts, I haven’t seen any of the unions being able to take any stand.

Punctuality is also an issue within the film industry in India. Things rarely happen on time. I have been blessed to work with bigger productions like Dharma Productions and Excel Entertainment, who have definitely set better examples of this, which is encouraging. I do think there is still much room for greater improvement.

Anisa (on the far left) at the film premiere of Netflix’s Brahman Naman

Working with talent agents

Another difference which still exists is the formality of both industries. In the UK, it is somewhat impossible to hear about great auditioning opportunities unless you are with an agent. I struggled with this when I immediately graduated from university (studying Drama) because I did not attend a drama school. Presently, I feel due to the increase of management companies in the UK, there is a greater chance today to be able to get with an agent. The top 5 agency’s in the UK are still very difficult to get into, unless you’re a big name or cast in something great. I find it can be a vicious circle. As a new actor you want experience and of course you want to be cast ultimately. In order to get this however, you need an agent, yet the best agents want you to have had that experience. Tricky tricky!

In India, the concept of having an acting agent is fairly new. There are many more personal managers who tend to handle celebrities and make sure they accompany them on their shoots. Casting coordinators play a bigger role in the Hindi film industry. They take a commission cut for any audition you get through them, similar to how agents work in the UK.

What’s being made

Last but not least, I feel another major difference is the type of content being made, and hence the demand on the artist is different. Bollywood is known for creating fantasy worlds of escapism, with beautiful costumes, sets, music, and dance.
Though the industry is changing, and we now see more writers and directors emerging with their own styles. There are also more indie films being made for festivals, but the commercial popcorn cinema (as some call it) is still very much existent though. These are the kind of films the masses in India want to see.
For the commercial films, the typical model-like features of being tall, with a great figure is essentially what is in demand. The actor is seen as a product, and though this is of course true worldwide, there is definitely less demand on being physically “perfect” in the UK. One may argue Hollywood and Bollywood both, for commercial films, do demand a lot more “perfection” from actors in terms of how they look. The male actors, normally have a ripped physique and are required to have some basic dance skills. Though this was what was dominating at one time, the surge of young fresh actors, not always linked to film lineage, has meant we are now diverting our attention more to the craft than the actor’s body. Again, I think we have a long way to go, but the small changes are an indication of what is to come, and I am happy to see this.

I hope this article was able to shed some light on the differences of working as an actor in the UK and India. There is definitely no formula or guarantees for success. I believe hard work and perseverance is the ultimate characteristics to have, and the focus to keep getting better at the thing you love to do. I could have gone on and on about more intricate differences, but then I think I could write a book on this one day. Till then, I hope I was able to share a peak of life between both places. They’re both incredible and fascinating, and both have so much to offer in their unique ways. I am blessed to be able to work in both places.