Nolte: Barry Diller Says the Oscars and Movie Business are Dead

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Businessman Barry Diller attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Osc
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Barry Diller has run two studios, Paramount and Fox, and believes (correctly) that the Oscars and the movie business are both dead.

Los Angeles Magazine scooped up all the Diller doomspeaking…

“It’s an antiquity,” the current IAC and Expedia chairman told Firing Line‘s Margaret Hoover of the awards process. Citing the Riseborough Affair, Diller noted the internal collapse the movie and awards-show industry have long been suffering. “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,” Diller said. “That path no longer exists.”

“The Riseborough Affair” noted above references Andrea Riseborough’s Best Actress nomination this year for a movie that made about $27,000 in theaters. She was nominated due to a social media campaign led primarily by name actresses like Kate Winslet. Everyday people have no idea who Riseborough is. She might have turned in an Oscar-worthy performance but look at the disconnect between the nomination and the audience. In a certain way, moviegoers and Oscar voters used to work together to decide these nominations. Box office mattered when it came to Oscar nominations. Today, the Oscars are basically the Independent Spirit Awards.

Here’s Diller’s full quote:

[Everyday people are] not interested in the whole [awards] process of it. … [T]he awards don’t reflect their interests either. It used to be that there was congruence between the movies that people went to see and the awards that were given to those movies that were most popular. Not that they were the most necessarily or the least artistic or whatever, but there was a real correlation between popular movies and the giving of blessings on those movies and the people in them. But that disappeared a while ago, and the awards went to movies that nobody watched, nobody went to see. And then no one went to see anything because the pandemic came. So the whole house has kind of collapsed upon itself. And what I think is, is that the awards ceremony should be for the industry and not for consumers. And that would change everything.

Here’s what he said about the movie business being dead:

If you just back up ten years ago … we had a big cable bundle that was getting every year priced higher and higher. Every year, the number of things we were offered were getting more and more in number, and we were paying more and more for them. … At just the same time, under their little noses, comes a company called Netflix, which says, ‘We’re going to stream things and deal directly with the consumer. And we’ve got a better proposition than you cable folks do. You can watch things whenever you want. You can watch all of it at once. It’s on demand, on your personal demand.’ …  And out of it, under the noses of the entire wisdom of the entertainment business, the ground completely shifts. And then along comes the pandemic, and that increases the shift because people stay home more, etc., etc. So there are more subscriptions, etc. The entire movie business crashes because there’s no movie theaters, because people can’t go to the theaters. And … Hollywood, which had ruled for 75, 80 years, it only took three or four years for it to totally disappear. Totally disappear in the sense that it’s over. There is no hegemony anymore of those, let’s call it those major motion picture companies. It’s truly finished. It is never coming back.

When asked about the Oscars, Diller said, “Talk about never coming back.”

In the case of what happened to the movies, I think he’s wrong. We do see people returning to the theaters: Top Gun: Maverick, 80 for Brady, Avatar 2, Spider-Man: No Way Home, etc. People will get off their couches if they feel the trip is worthwhile. It wasn’t streaming and the China Flu that made the movies irrelevant. It was the movies that made the movies irrelevant.

Movies just aren’t very good anymore, and most of them are hyper-politicized to the point they are not entertaining. Worse still is all the gay content. Most Americans cannot relate to or identify with homosexuality, and this kills the experience. Who wants to watch a movie if you can’t relate to the characters? And if there’s any same-sex romance, it makes most people uncomfortable, which also ruins the experience.

Top Gun: Maverick is about alpha males bonding and doing their duty.

Avatar 2 is about protecting your family.

80 for Brady is about four old ladies throwing off the shawl and chasing one last dream.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is about an everyday kid trying to do the right thing.

People can either relate to those characters or want to live vicariously through them. Why do you think that for a hundred years, most movies had a romantic subplot? Because who doesn’t want to fall in love with a beautiful movie star?!?

That’s almost all gone now, and that’s why movies are increasingly irrelevant.


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