Rumor in Hollywood has it there’s a huge shortage of everyone needed to make TV and films right now because many of those with skills applicable to other industries had to leave the biz and get work elsewhere to keep their homes and cars and feed their families.
The way I hear it, there’s a feeding frenzy of production companies stealing one another’s staffs and crews as everyone tries to get rolling again.
Apparently, every single studio is scrambling to find everyone and everything they need to finish up films and TV shows that were partially completed when the strikes hit last May. Plus, the new productions trying to get going are having a terrible time compiling full crews to start working. Not only are sound stages in short supply, but everyone from electricians, to set construction teams, costumers, sound technicians, photographers, you name it, are in short supply. Apparently, there’s a ton of poaching going on as producers compete to pay more and offer better deals to all kinds of people necessary to get filming again.
It’s going to take a little while to sort out the traffic jam of partially finished projects trying to finish up, new projects trying to get rolling, and rescheduling releases for all of it. My guess is it will take all of 2024 to sort out the whole mess.
The studios usually negotiate informally among themselves to spread out the big movie releases (and also big TV show premieres) so they each get their own opening weekend and so the publicity junkets of the stars hitting all the talk shows, gossip magazines, etc. don’t overlap too much.
Barbie-Oppenheimer weekend was an experiment born of desperation last summer to launch two blockbusters on the same weekend. The hope was to pull in two totally different audiences at the same time and fill theaters for once, and to remind moviegoers what it’s like to go to an exciting new release in a crowded, energized theater.
Even though the SAG-AFTRA strike was going when those films came out, Barbie had spent $150 million on marketing. It had a ton of brand placement deals (meaning branded products showed up in the movie), and pink collaborations with a ton of merchandise companies long before the strikes started. So, the whole world seemed to turn pink for a few weeks, which was a brilliant marketing strategy, given that the lead actors couldn’t run around and hype the movie like crazy.
As for Oppenheimer, as great a movie as it is, in the absence of tying itself to the Barbie release, I expect it would’ve languished at the box office. It’s dark, serious, covers a complicated subject, and isn’t exactly a feel-good escapist flick. Which is to say, kudos to the movie marketing execs who cooked up the Barbenheimer idea.
At any rate, the disruption of the strikes, on top of three years of Covid, has done a real number on the film industry in particular. In the next year, if you’re considering whether to go to a movie theater to see a film or wait for it to come out on your cable/streaming service, I encourage you to go to a theater.
Many cinemas in the U.S. are hanging on by a thread, and they could use a little love. In the absence of movie theater income, the studios won’t have enough cash in the future to make many (or possibly any) of the big, spectacular, fun movies we all love to love.
If the theaters don’t get butts in seats in 2024, many of them will shut down and never come back. If you have a local theater you’d like to see stay open, use it. And tell your friends and families to use it, too.
Thus endeth my rumor report and PSA for supporting your local movie theater. Happy binge watching your favorite shows and movies!