Shareholder Cinema

Earlier today MSN’s James Rocchi posted an opinion piece that basically said corporations, which are generally sociopathic in nature and care only about profits, often finance expensive films for…well, sociopathic reasons.

“‘Shareholder Cinema,’ as I call it — moviemaking built around maximum profit first and always — is real,” he says at midpoint. “Movies have always been good and bad, money-makers or money-losers, balancing each other out with the invisible hand of capitalism smoothing out the marketplace. It’s just that, to be blunt, the way it’s all happening these days seems a little too calculated, a little too coldly executed, a little too formulaic. And the decision of what to do, at a studio level, seems less and less to be about what kind of story you can tell on-screen than what kind of story you can tell in the quarterly report or the shareholder’s brief.

“Movies have always demanded return on investment — but under the current rules of cutthroat capitalism, huge conglomerates can look wounded by money-losing divisions (or even divisions that don’t make enough money, or enough of the right kind of money) and have to focus on the consistently high quarter-over-quarter? profits and upward-ticking profitability that can encourage both gigantic pension funds and trigger-happy day traders not drop you like dead meat, which is what they’ll do in the absence of that kind of quarter-over-quarter? return.

“And if there is any death knell for a serious proposition in business, in culture, in life, it is this: When you are more concerned about money and reputation — the stock price — than you are about doing what you do — providing services to customers at a markup from cost so that you might turn a profit — you are doomed.”

Rocchi was inspired to write the piece after hearing yesterday’s news about Disney buying Lucasfilm for $4 billion and change, and announcing intentions to produce another Star Wars trilogy.