Barry Diller – a Hollywood icon who was the former CEO of both Paramount and what was 20th Century Fox (which is now part of Disney) – said streaming services killed the film industry.
‘The movie business is over,’ Diller said in an exclusive interview with NPR on the sidelines of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Idaho, where he was joined by his wife, the well-known fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, and other tech media and tech moguls.
‘The movie business as it was before is finished and will never come back,’ Diller, 79, told NPR. ‘The definition of movie is in such transition it doesn’t mean anything anymore.’
Movie-making has become less of an art form and more of a factory-like production pushing quantity over quality to supplement other services, in Diller’s eyes.
For example, Amazon’s May announcement of its $8.45billion deal to buy MGM and 4,000 of its movies from the past 35 years – including James Bond and The Hobbit – was viewed by many, including Diller, as a chess move to bolster Amazon Prime.
It’s seen an means to end, and the end is to buy Amazon products.
Amazon Prime Video and and IMDb TV have also closed a licensing agreement with Universal Filmed Entertainment Group on Friday, according to Deadline.com, which reported the financials are still under lock and key but it’s expected to be a multi-year deal in the 10-figure range.
Barry Diller, 79, is seen here with his wife and well-known designer Diane von Furstenberg at a tech conference in Idaho on July 9
Diller speaks to the media on July 9 at the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference in Idaho
Barry Diller is behind some major blockbusters such as Saturday Night Fever and Raiders of the Lost Arc, among many other movies. He strolls into the tech conference in Idaho with his wife Diane von Furstenberg on July 9
Oscar-nominated screenwriter John Logan, 59, who penned two James Bond movies, has pleaded with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos not to meddle with the franchise’s creative processes.
He previously said he felt a ‘chill’ when he learned Amazon had purchased MGM Studios.
Diller – the man behind blockbusters such as Saturday Night Fever and Raiders of the Lost Arc, among others – shared a similar sentiment with NPR.
‘These streaming services have been making something that they call ‘movies.’ They ain’t movies. They are some weird algorithmic process that has created things that last 100 minutes or so,’ he said.
Diller recalled how movies used to have a ‘whole run-up’ to its release date that included countless time, energy and money that studios invested in publicity campaigns.
The goal, Diller told NPR, was to generate sustained excitement and enthusiasm for new movies.
‘That’s finished,’ he said. ‘I used to be in the movie business where you made something really because you cared about it.’
The film industry was headed down this road before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down theaters for over a year, but streaming movies became the main source of entertainment over the last 15 months.
Traditional movies and the build out of their releases in theaters are ‘finished,’ Diller told NPR
Time spent streaming grew 44 percent between the fourth quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Convia’s Q4 2020 State of Streaming Report.
‘While many wish 2020 to be a year soon forgotten, it will likely be remembered a pivotal year for streaming. The industry delivered with flourishing new services, astronomical peaks of growth, blockbusters released direct to streaming, and the rising profile of social media platforms,’ the report concluded.
This has led to a streaming wars among a battlefield that was already populated by giants like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime video, which bolstered it’s presence with MGM and Deadline‘s recently reported deal between Amazon Prime Video and IMDb TV and Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.
As part of the deal, Prime Video will exclusively stream Universal’s 2022 and future live-action titles and will get the rights to package Universal library movies, including Jurassic World: Dominion, according to Deadline.
IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, secured an exclusive network window for films from Universal’s 2020-2021 slate and animated titles, such as Dolittle, The Invisible Man, Despicable Me 2 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, Deadline reported.
There are also relatively newcomers to the crowded battlefield like Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock, which are all backed by deep pockets and connect streaming services with major studios.
Some of the services have released movies on the streaming service and in theaters.
For example, in December when only a handful of theaters were open with a limited capacity, HBO Max and Disney+ released Wonder Woman and Soul, respectively, on their streaming services and in theaters.
Disney+ is doing the same thing with this weekend’s release of Black Widow.
But to get those movies, some services may charge extra in different ways.
HBO Max subscribers are able to stream movies with the standard $14.99 a month package, but Disney+ charges subscribers a one-time fee of $29.99 per movie for Disney+ Premiere Access.
This was done with titles such as Mulan, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Cruella.