Is Television Stealing Film Audiences?

I haven’t seen a really decent movie in a long time. “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest”? Sure, a decent sequel. “When a Stranger Calls”? Not so bad for a remake. Sadly though, it’s

I haven’t seen a really decent movie in a long time.

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dean Man’s Chest”? Sure, a decent sequel. “When a Stranger Calls”? Not so bad for a remake. Sadly though, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that really made me think about my life, or sincerely removed me from my own reality for any length of time.

It seems to me that the film industry has been having a few problems in the originality department lately. Recently, the theaters have been packed with an amazing variety of fancy colors, racing cars and exploding boats. But when is the last time you’ve seen a totally original script, complete with riveting characters and overall decent filmmaking? It’s probably been a while. The mainstream studios are struggling to stay afloat these days while the Indie scene grows larger. So what exactly is keeping Hollywood from completely falling apart? Television.

With the popularity of shows like “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Lost,” television, specifically ABC, has found an incredibly large audience ranging from real-life housewives, hopeful romantics and even the sci-fi crowd.

The success of “Grey’s Anatomy” has made the writer/creator Shonda Rhimes as much of a household name to women everywhere as Nora Ephron. Massive amounts of audiences tune in every Thursday to see if Meredith will finally get to be with her Dr. McDreamy. (Yes, I’m a fan of the show, and even I feel lame saying McDreamy.) This is the benefit television has over movies. Sure, movies follow a trend of sequels and threequels and even prequels to keep movie audiences coming, but the trend is nothing compared to the ratings a television show gets each week. Americans keep tuning in to follow the storyline.

One of the better examples of this is possibly the Wednesday night phenomenon, “Lost.” Now in its third season, many fans argue that it doesn’t have the same allure it had in the first, but that doesn’t mean that the show isn’t one of the best-written dramas on television.

“Lost” has the fantasy element that drags audiences to theaters to see movies like “Pirates” and “Lord of the Rings.” It’s a show that allows ordinary people to escape from their own realities and enter someone else’s each week.

Above all else, creators J.J. Abrams (also of “Alias” and “Mission Impossible 3”) and Damon Lindelof have developed an amazing formula to not only keep audiences hooked, but to continue providing fresh storylines. Though the main story on the island is beginning to wear on many viewers’ patience, (enough with the others already!) each week Abrams and Lindelof take us into the private world of one of the main characters. This provides them with the chance to display some of the best character development on television, and it is a luxury that most films just don’t have.

Another big night in television is the new face off between previously popular “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Grey’s Anatomy” in its new Thursday night time slot. As a fan of both shows, it’s difficult to choose which show to relax in front of on a Thursday night. But this is the competition television stations count on. At this point, the Nielson ratings for these two television networks are sky-rocketing while the movie box office experiences some stiff competition between “Jackass: Number Two” and “Employee of the Month.”

It seems that filmmakers have finally run out of ideas just in time for primetime to become popular again.

Over the years, the film and television industry have both had their ups and downs, and perhaps this is just another dry spell for the film market. Sadly, it seems that if they both continue to follow their current trends, we won’t be seeing anymore original Hollywood blockbusters and filmmakers will begin to lose their places in the limelight. For all the millions of hopefuls trying to make it in the media business, television is the safest place to be right now. That is, until the trends change again.

Jaclyn Kacewich can be reached at

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