September 24, 2023

The Oscars Are So Over: Ex-Paramount CEO Barry Diller

‘It’s an antiquity’: Diller says the Oscars are finished because the traditional movie-theater going business no longer exists because of streaming giants

Barry Diller: The Oscars Are Over and the Movie Business Is Finished

Hollywood heavyweight Barry Diller says The Academy Awards are a relic of a bygone era and no longer appeal to a commercial audience.

  • The Hollywood heavyweight continues to disparage the long-running award show, arguing it is no longer geared toward commercial audiences 
  • As the famed awards show has opted to celebrate fewer and less popular films, its viewership numbers have plummeted
  • Diller also remarked that the movie industry at large is ‘finished and will never come back’ and has been critical of content coming from streaming services  

Hollywood heavyweight Barry Diller says the Academy Awards are a relic of a bygone era and no longer appeal to a commercial audience.

In a series of interviews over the last year or so, Diller has made it abundantly clear that he believes the movie industry is in a state of decline and that the conventional path for a film to win an Oscar ‘no longer exists.’

Diller rose to success and prominence as the chairman and CEO of two Hollywood studios – Paramount Pictures and the former 20th Century Fox. As recently as 18 months ago, however, Diller was prepared to declare the movie business ‘over.’

‘The movie business is finished and will never come back,’ he told NPR at the famed Sun Valley, Idaho media and technology conference in 2021.

“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.” – NPR

And of course, the collapse of the movie industry, he says, has taken down with it the town’s most glamorous night.

‘It’s an antiquity,’ Diller, now the chairman of IAC and Expedia recently said on an episode of Firing Line.

‘All awards ceremonies were based on this hierarchical process of a movie going to a theater, building up some word of mouth if it was successful, having that word of mouth carry itself over.’

He lamented the current ethos of the film-making business, speculating that films are no longer made for the primary purpose of consumer enjoyment.

‘I used to be in the movie business where you made something really because you cared about it,’ he told NPR adding that popular reception was the thing executives were vying for above all else.

But now, the definition of the term movie is ‘in such transition that it doesn’t mean anything right now.’

‘These streaming services have been making something that they call ‘movies,” he continued. ‘They ain’t movies. They are some weird algorithmic process that has created things that last 100 minutes or so.’

It used to be, that the Academy Awards won over viewers by correlating themselves with the year’s most popular films.

If the films the Academy chooses to celebrate are not popular, and in some cases are, in fact, decidedly unknown, those viewers will disappear.

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Frasier star Kelsey Grammer and Jesus Revolution shock box office with No. 3 open

Frasier star Kelsey Grammer and Jesus Revolution shock box office with No. 3 open

The premiere of Jesus Revolution took the box office’s No. 3 spot this past weekend.

The premiere of Jesus Revolution took the box office’s No. 3 spot this past weekend.

Moviegoers defied film critics’ reviews of the newly released film, which is based on the real-life experience of hippies being invited into church by Southern California pastor Chuck Smith, who was played by Frasier star Kelsey Grammer. The film depicts the Christian movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that spread across the country as thousands joined the faith.

Jesus Revolution (2023 Movie) Official Trailer – Kelsey Grammer, Joel Courtney

In Theaters Everywhere February 24, 2023, with early access screenings February 22, 2023. Starring Joel Courtney, Anna Grace Barlow, Jonathan Roumie, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and Kelsey Grammer.

Jesus Revolution grossed $15.5 million while showing on less than 2,500 screens across the country. The film trailed Walt Disney’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which grossed $32 million in its second weekend, and Universal’s Cocaine Bear, which grossed $23 million across 3,500 screens in its opening weekend.

Film review site Cinemalogue suggested that Jesus Revolution’s storyline is “narrow” and “muddled.”

“The intentions are pure enough, but the film suffers from a narrow historical perspective and a muddled narrative focus while trying to push its message,” Cinemalogue wrote.

Rotten Tomatoes gave Jesus Revolution a score of 54%, while the film has notched an audience score of 99%.

CinemaScore also noted Jesus Revolution grabbed a rare A+ grade from filmgoers after seeing the movie. Top Gun: Maverick and The Woman King were the only two films to grab such a score in 2022.

Grammer, who played the role of Chuck Smith in the film, called it “really uplifting.”

“What Chuck did went back to one of the basic precepts of Christianity, which is inclusion,” Grammer said. “He thought, ‘Well, I’m doing it this way, and people aren’t listening,’ so he finally surrendered. He said, ‘You show me a hippie, and I’ll listen.’ It became a great adventure, which is still going on.”

Grammer also noted how it highlighted his dedication to his faith.

“I have come to terms with [the highs and lows of my own faith journey] and have found great peace in my faith and in Jesus,” Grammer said. “It’s not cavalier — Jesus made a difference in my life. That’s not anything I’ll apologize for.

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Box Office: ‘Cocaine Bear’ Sniffs Up $23 Million, ‘Ant-Man 3’ Suffers Massive 69% Drop

Box Office: ‘Cocaine Bear’ Sniffs Up $23 Million, ‘Ant-Man 3’ Suffers Massive 69% Drop

Universal’s horror-comedy “Cocaine Bear” blew past box office projections, earning an impressive $23 million from 3,534 North American theaters in its opening weekend. The bl…

Universal’s horror-comedy “Cocaine Bear” blew past box office projections, earning an impressive $23 million from 3,534 North American theaters in its opening weekend. The blood-splattered animal adventure landed in second place on domestic charts behind Disney’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” which all but collapsed in its sophomore outing.

“Ant-Man 3” managed to remain in first place given its huge $106 million opening, but the comic book installment is suffering from negative word-of-mouth. It added $32.2 million from 4,345 venues in its second weekend of release, marking a brutal 69% decline from its debut.

Now, “Quantumania” holds the ignominious distinction as the biggest week-to-week drop in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including “Thor: Love and Thunder” (which fell 67%), “Black Widow” (which plunged 67.8% while debuting simultaneously on Disney Plus) and “Eternals” (which fell 62% after equally bad reviews). Globally, the movie has generated $364 million, including $167 million domestically and $196 million internationally.

Elizabeth Banks directed “Cocaine Bear,” which earned another $5.3 million at the international box office for a global debut of $28.4 million. The movie was budgeted at roughly $35 million. For Universal, “Cocaine Bear” is another win for original ideas following its killer-doll movie “M3GAN,” which became a surprise hit to the tune of $170 million globally.

“It’s an outrageous comedy that absolutely delivers on its premise,” says Jim Orr, Universal’s president of domestic distribution. “People were ready to see something over the top.”

Moviegoers were mixed on “Cocaine Bear,” giving the film a “B-” CinemaScore. Inspired by the true story about a drug runner’s plane crash, the wildly R-rated “Cocaine Bear” follows the residents of a small town who try to escape a 500-pound black bear that ingests a duffle bag of blow.

In third place, Lionsgate’s religious drama “Jesus Revolution” put projections to shame by debuting to $15.5 million from 2,475 theaters. Heading into the weekend, the movie was expected to earn $6 million to $7 million.

Faith-based audiences — 59% were female and 89% were 25 or older — were charmed by “Jesus Revolution,” bestowing the film a rare “A+” CinemaScore. From “I Can Only Imagine” filmmakers the Erwin brothers and their company Kingdom Story Company, the $15 million-budgeted movie follows a youth minister and a pastor as they partake in the evangelical Christian movement that swept Southern California in the early 1970s.  

Paul Dergarabedian, a senior Comscore analyst, says there’s a “massively underserved faith-based audience.” “With ‘Jesus Revolution,’ [Kingdom Story Company] hit another home run in their partnership with Lionsgate and have created quite a fruitful business model for releasing these types of films to an enthusiastic and faithful fan base.”

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