You know, in my little world of being and independent movie studio (and it's, er, a very little world), I find that ironically I have a lot of sympathy for the big studios. There is a lot of whining and complaining (frequently from writers) on the Interwebs and on various blags about how the big studios are run and how movies get made. But none of that whining is from people who actually have to manage the business of selling movies (or, in the case of television, selling audiences to advertisers).
There are a lot of factors which are tremendously counter intuitive even to the average professional in the industry; because the average professional isn't actually concerned with making sure the programs/movies get sold. There are so few of those people -- through whom all the money flows, and so many of all the rest of us.
I am obviously not one of the people who has to sit and listen to the buyer from Japan gripe about his distribution problems and how hard it is to sell such-and-such material to his own market. Nope. But I do get the emails forwarded to me from those people. Oof.
And it's rough out there.
Frequently decisions made by studios which the bystander might think "stupid" are actually quite wise and reasoned within the vastly complicated picture of their own situation. I know the boys at SyFy have had some real problems with the way that Neilsen decided to "count" TIVO watching for instance. Big problems. Their ratings plummeted because their audience was perfectly fine with TIVO'ing a program and watching it weeks later. This caused big problems which affected NBC/Universal's bottom line which is presented at their shareowner's meetings at the end of the year. (I wonder -- is that why they now quote numbers from SNL Kagan? I'd never heard of that company before.) But we in the rest of the business tend to not be responsible to those who have to report to those who have to stand up there in front of analysts and explain why the stock price is plummeting even though lots of people may/may not be watching the shows on our networks.
I love these SSL compressors. I know they're expensive. I'd take an Alan Smart instead then. OK?
Here's a quote from my favorite (so far) review of Watchmen. It's from Bill Martell.
The big problem is one of adaptation. The reason why Dr. Manhattan’s big blue dick swings through the frame is because that’s what happened in the comic book - if they had made him wear underpants the fans would have screamed that the studio wasn’t being faithful to the source material. If they had streamlined the plot and gotten rid of all of the soap opera crap and made Rorschach the only lead, they wouldn’t be faithful to the source material. If they had made any changes that made it a *better film* the fans would scream that they weren’t being faithful to the source material. Hey - that thing we see in the cinema is not a graphic novel, it’s a *movie* and must work as a movie! If that means you have to change things to make it work as a movie, that’s what has to be done.