I think there’s so much good television that it’s hard to get people to go to theaters without making it some kind of event. I think studios are working backwards since they lost their DVD sales, they are working backwards from “How do we get a theme park and a ride and a this and a that…” So if you’re not making Harry Potter or you’re not making something that you can synergize and advertise across all of these huge platforms… It’s easier for me to get 150 million dollars to make a movie if I’ve got giant robots in it than it is to make a 40 million dollar drama. I mean that’s the wasteland.
I wonder if some of the same madness is starting to infect publishing, albeit in a different way. YA fiction and paranormal romances are still white-hot, the former in particular because of the ways they can be turned into other things as per the above. The latter, less so, but if they actually make and release a Fifty Shades of Grey film then I anticipate pulling a Werner Herzog with my shoe on this issue.
What's happening might best be explained by reframing an old Hollywood joke:
Q: What is a book?
A: It is one of several elements that combine to form a major promotional effort.
In other words, the fact that something exists as a book is nothing more than a way to get a property — which exists outside of any one incarnation — to an audience. This has already happened in Japan, where any one given property may start from or in turn spawn
- an animated TV series
- a theatrical feature (live-action or animated)
- a light novel series
- a manga adaptation
- a video game
- a visual novel
- an audio drama
and so on and so forth.
But what seems like a cornucopia of creative riches from the outside is actually a symptom of creative impoverishment. The fact that something exists in any one form becomes less important than merchandising it in multiple forms. The work becomes less important than the pipeline.
No prizes for guessing what happens to storytelling and character in the process — you know, all the things we actually go to a story for in the first place?