Is The U.S. Movie Industry Broken?

Hollywood insiders say the studio movie-making machine is broken. We ask where the movie business is headed.

A movie theater ticket booth in Cathedral City, Calif. (Raymond Shobe/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

People buy their tickets at a movie theater in Cathedral City, Calif. (Raymond Shobe/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Big-budget “World War Z” and its waves of zombies are raging with Brad Pitt in theaters right now.  “Fast & Furious 6,” no less, right behind.  A quarter-billion dollar Lone Ranger production gallops in with Johnny Depp this week.

Next week, alien invasion, Earth in peril, in the blockbuster wannabe “Pacific Rim.”  Midsummer 2013, it’s all blockbuster all the time out of Hollywood.  The “tent poles” that hold up the whole biz.  But can they hold?  And what kind of movies, what kind of biz, will we have as Hollywood goes truly global?

This hour, On Point:  World War Hollywood, and the future of film.

- Tom Ashbrook


Ty Burr, film critic for the Boston Globe. Author of, “Gods Like Us: On Movie Stardom and Modern Fame.” (@tyburr)

Lynda Obst, film and television producer with more than 16 movies to her credit, including “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Hope Floats,” and “One Fine Day.” Her new book is Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business.” (@LyndaObst)

Sharon Waxman, CEO and editor in chief of, which covers Hollywood and the movie business.

From Tom’s Reading List

Indiewire: SFIFF: Steven Soderbergh Says Art Of Cinema Is Under Attack From The Studios, Decries Profit Driven Decision Making“In his mind, the evolution of cinema in studio movies has halted because, ‘The executive ecosystem is distorted because executives don’t get punished for making bombs the way filmmakers do.’ Storytelling prescribed by profit estimates also deter contemporary cinema from blossoming in a meaningful way, as films are forced to appeal to the widest possible audience.”

The Guardian: Steven Spielberg And George Lucas Predict Film Industry ‘Implosion’ — “Veteran directors warned students in US about difficulty of getting projects into cinemas, and suggested studio cautiousness could lead to hiked ticket prices.”

U.S. News And World Report: $50 Movie Tickets: Is George Lucas’s Prophecy Becoming Reality? — “Rather than a bellwether of an industry-wide shift to pricier tickets, however, execs from Paramount and its partner in the deal Regal Entertainment Group describe the mega ticket as an experiment targeted at a select group of superfans.”

Excerpt: ‘Sleepless in Hollywood’ by Linda Obst

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Oct 7, 2015
The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames, after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike.  (AP)

The U.S. airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan faces tough questions from Congress. We’re looking for what really happened.

Oct 7, 2015
Students in the new documentary film "Beyond Measure" take part in a project-based learning activity with their peers. (Courtesy the Filmmakers)

Arne Duncan’s headed out as U.S. Education Secretary. What’s next for America’s school kids?

Oct 6, 2015
In this Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, photo, Dorothy McIntosh Shuemake, mother of Alison Shuemake, browses a picture collage of her daughter at her home, in Middletown, Ohio. Alison Shuemake, 18, died Aug. 26, after a suspected heroin overdose. (AP)

American addiction. From prescription painkillers to heroin. The numbers are staggering. Why?

Oct 6, 2015
Eric Baker, co-owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop, poses for a photo at the shop Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Phoenix.  (AP)

American gun policy front and center in the 2016 campaigns after the shootings in Oregon. We’ll look at who stands where on guns.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Rep. Daniel Webster: ‘I’m Gonna Sell This Message’
Tuesday, Oct 6, 2015

When House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced his retirement and resignation from his position last month, it surprised both his Party and the Washington political establishment. Now, with the House set to vote on a new Speaker on Oct. 25, three would-be party leaders are stepping in to make their case. U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster […]

More »
Our Week In The Web: October 2, 2015
Friday, Oct 2, 2015

We say hello again to our email address (since so many of you did this week) and goodbye to the Log Lady.

More »
Interview With Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Count Me As A Radical’
Thursday, Oct 1, 2015

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making waves in the 2016 Presidential race, and he joined us today from the US Capitol to explain how his campaign message is connecting with voters around the country.

More »