Steven Spielberg and George Lucas warn of movie industry 'implosion' and $50 tickets: Is this the end of Hollywood as we know it?

Veteran directors warn of fewer theatres and higher ticket prices

Los Angeles

It will come as little comfort to young filmmakers that even Steven Spielberg has difficulty getting a movie financed.

Speaking to film students this week, Spielberg warned of an imminent “implosion” in the industry, saying several successive blockbuster box-office flops would radically alter the Hollywood business model. In future, the director suggested, audiences will be expected to pay more to see large-scale films than their more understated counterparts.

“You’re gonna have to pay $25 [£16] for the next Iron Man,” he said. “You’re probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln.” Spielberg also revealed that Lincoln, his Oscar-winning 2012 biopic of the 16th US President, had come “this close” to being an HBO television film, and only earned a theatrical release because the director co-owns his own film studio, Dreamworks.

Hollywood elder statesmen Spielberg, 66, and George Lucas, 69, were speaking together on Wednesday at the opening of a new building at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles. The two men have made some of the most successful blockbusters in history, including Star Wars, Jaws and Raiders of the Lost Ark. “When I first started making movies,” Spielberg recalled, “my movies stayed in theatres for one year… E.T was in a theatre for a year and four months... That was an amazing situation.”

But, he warned, “There’s eventually going to be an implosion, or a big meltdown… where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that’s going to change the paradigm.”

Audiences now have so much choice about how to spend their time and entertainment dollars, he explained, that studios are forced to put their weight behind only the biggest titles. “You’re at the point right now where a studio would rather invest $250m in one film for a real shot at the brass ring than make a whole bunch of really interesting, deeply personal – and even maybe historical – projects that may get lost in the shuffle,” he said.

Lucas agreed, discussing the difficulty he too faced in bringing his World War Two drama Red Tails to the big screen. “You’re talking about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas can’t get their movie into a theatre,” the Star Wars creator said, predicting that the business of film exhibition would become more like Broadway or West End theatre. “What you’re going to end up with is fewer theatres. Bigger theatres, with a lot of nice things. Going to the movies is going to cost you 50 bucks, maybe 100. Maybe 150.”

The directors’ comments echoed those of other filmmakers, such as Steven Soderbergh, who recently announced his retirement from cinema after failing to get an American theatrical release for his Liberace biopic, Behind the Candelabra. The film was broadcast on HBO in the US.

Lucas described cable television as “much more adventurous” than film. “I think eventually the Lincolns will go away and they’re going to be on television,” he said.

Hollywood turkeys: Big budget flops

AFTER EARTH (2013)

Will Smith’s father-and-son sci-fi is the star’s first summer flop in two decades. It has so far grossed about $97m worldwide, still some $30m shy of its production budget.

JOHN CARTER (2012)

Disney was thought to have lost about $200m on this Mars-set fantasy sci-fi. By far the fattest turkey of 2012.

BATTLESHIP (2012)

John Carter star Taylor Kitsch also fronted this $220m belly flop, which made just $25.4m in its opening weekend.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam