Bad Idea: Taking Product Thinking to Hollywood

So for many years the film industry is notorious for using test screenings to overrule a creative vision, in the interests of box office returns.  It makes sense too- Hollywood is an industry not a charity. Film makers may be artists, but films are a product that is marketed and sold. They are big investments that can have hundreds of millions of dollars riding on one person's vision and aesthetic. 


So situations are becoming more common with Zach Snyder as well as Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired from their films by studios wanting something more commercial. The thinking here is that the marketing campaign can be nearly as expensive as the film itself. So the logic is that if things look like they are going off the rails, to fire the director and reshoot the whole thing as so to not waste good marketing dollars on a film that is not going to maximize return.  And I ask, "Why stop there? Why not really commit to the idea?"

The Bad Idea: product thinking involves looking at what the customer wants. Apple and google are constantly refining and revamping their experiences. And with Media existing largely in a streaming format, it just makes sense that studios continue to release updates to films long after their release date. They can study the metrics on how people are watching their content, and go back to improve things. Remove the "Martha" reveal in Batman V Superman. Punch up the jokes in "When Harry Met Sally" to keep them current. Refine special effects that are starting to look dated.  Basically treat movies as 'entertainment software' that have a long support period.


This is not a new idea, like when George Lucas released the Special Editions of the original Star Wars Trilogy.  His attempt to 'fix things' only offended the die hard fans who were not expecting something from their childhood to change.

Why it might be a good idea- Movies considered locked in stone because the original technology limitations. But still alternate versions proliferated. How many versions of Blade Runner are there now? As much as people hate the idea of films being tinkered with, studios do it all the time. And right now it is a confusing mess of different versions. Watching a movie is really like using a service. So with the flexible cloud technology, why not use it to its full potential.

Taking things a step further, we expect websites and apps to be personalized to our needs and interests. Why not films? Do you want more scenes with Black Panther or Thor in your version of The Avengers 3? Do you want your version of Breakfast at Tiffany's to include Mr. Yunioshi, or replace him with a nosey Brooklyn Housewife?

Why it is probably a Bad Idea: Well mainly that this is probably the beginning of the end of coherent culture.  It replaces artistic vision with a mushy form of entertainment, like reality TV. This 'product' really becomes just something that is whatever it needs to be in order to keep you watching it. The AI generated Peppa Pig videos are just of a taste of where things would eventually go once everything gets automated, and tied to a feedback loop based on viewer metrics.  Eventually, everyone's entertainment would be so unique and weird, it would be pointless to try and have a conversation about it with another person.

So yeah, probably a Bad Idea.