As two world wars with record breaking cinema attendances can testify to: In tough times escapism fares best. But in contrast to earlier economic slumps it seems this time Hollywood's grip on our imagination is waning, signifying a remarkable cultural shift. As the Hollywood Reporter reveals:
Everywhere one looks, the entertainment business is in a world of hurt. The downturn is slamming the balance sheets and stocks of major media companies. Banks and hedge funds are cutting or eliminating movie financing, putting projects at studios and independents in peril. TV networks, reeling from an advertising decline, are slashing costs and trimming staffs (…) For movies, the days of easy money are officially over.
The same goes for the studio's TV shows:
ABC Studios was the most aggressive during the strike. It terminated nearly 30 overall deals, the most of any studio. Now it is the only studio so far to impose budget cuts on its shows, a 2% production cost trim on all series. That is on top of the much-gossiped-about spending cuts on wardrobe on the studio-produced hit "Desperate Housewives." (…)
In a memo from Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal, the company outlines its cost-cutting measures, which include less plane travel and hotel downgrades, the restriction of corporate jet travel to top talent only, fewer print subscriptions, no internal meetings outside the company offices and cutting airport parking costs.
While the lesser talent will have to abstain from private jets, luxury resorts and glossy magazines one entertainment industry continues to deliver record numbers:
Videogame sales soared in October, with Americans spending $1.31 billion on games, hardware, and add-ons. Unsurprisingly the Wii topped the charts (803,000 untis sold), followed by the Xbox 360 (371,000 units) and the PS3 (190,000). Then there's the spectacular success of the most escapist games of them all, breaking record sales and enslaving more people than ever. Overall the video games industry is set to top $22 billion in 2008, according to NPD.
"Obviously, the economic slowdown isn't impacting this market," an industry observer told Radar. "Unlike just about every other industry on the planet, we're anticipating a great holiday season."