Why Media Mogul Barry Diller Thinks the Movie Business Is Dead
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: Barry Diller made his name in the film industry as the chairman and CEO of two Hollywood studios, Paramount Pictures and what was then 20th Century Fox. Now, he is declaring the industry dead. “The movie business is over,” Diller said in an exclusive interview with NPR on the sidelines of the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, a media and technology conference in Idaho. “The movie business as before is finished and will never come back.” Yes, that has to do with a substantial decline in ticket sales and the closure of movie theaters during the coronavirus pandemic. But Diller, the chairman and senior executive of IAC, a company that owns Internet properties, said, “It is much more than that.”

According to Diller, who ran Paramount and Fox several decades ago, streaming has altered the film industry in substantial ways, including the quality of movies now being made. Last year, several media conglomerates, including Disney and WarnerMedia, decided to debut new releases in movie theaters and on streaming services simultaneously. That was a radical change, and theater chains protested it. “There used to be a whole run-up,” Diller said, remembering how much time, energy and money studios invested in distribution and publicity campaigns. The goal, he said, was to generate sustained excitement and enthusiasm for new movies. “That’s finished,” he said.

The way companies measure success is also different, according to Diller. “I used to be in the movie business where you made something really because you cared about it,” he said, noting that popular reception mattered more than anything else. When asked about Quibi, the now-defunct streaming platform founded by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Diller said: “Quibi was just a bad idea. I mean, it’s that simple.”

“It was a bad idea that had no testing ground other than a big-scale investment,” Diller said. “Otherwise, it would have slithered around for a while. But it was such a big-scale thing that it lived and died in a millisecond.” Diller added: “It has no relevance on anything. The idea of professional, A-quality 10-minutes-or-less stuff just made no sense.”

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