Lucas: “We don’t want to make movies.”

Variety reports that George Lucas is getting out of feature films and into television, but not in the way you might think. Read these graphs carefully for their underlying meaning and their message to all of us:

George Lucas has a message for studios that are cutting their slates and shifting toward big-budget tentpoles and franchises: You’ve got it all wrong. The creator of “Star Wars,” which stamped the template for the franchise-tentpole film, says many small films and Web distribution are the future.

And in case anyone doubts he means it, Lucasfilm is getting out of the [theatrical-release] movie biz. “We don’t want to make movies. We’re about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we’ve moved away from the feature film thing because it’s too expensive and it’s too risky.

Spending $100 million on production costs and another $100 million on P&A makes no sense, he said. “For that same $200 million, I can make 50–60 two-hour movies. That’s 120 hours as opposed to two hours. In the future market, that’s where it’s going to land, because it’s going to be all pay-per-view and downloadable.

Small is the new big, and it would appear that Lucas has come to grips with the Media 2.0 disruption. As Long Tail author Chris Anderson writes, “Today it’s getting cheaper and easier to make a movie. Why shouldn’t it be cheaper and easier to distribute it, too?”

The lesson here is that of the film industry killing the goose that laid the golden egg, and the same thing is taking place across all mass media fronts. When the bottom line runs things, it’ll sooner or later destroy itself, especially when the people formerly known as the audience have their say. Who wants to sit through 20 minutes of commercials and another ten minutes of movie ads to eat popcorn and watch another Hollywood formulaic piece of crap? The “star” system is broken. The “control scarcity” system is broken. People are sick of being manipulated, and Lucas wisely sees that turning over his work to the internet’s long tail is the smart choice for tomorrow.

This is something all of us in the Media 1.0 world need to be doing.

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