As official non-mayor of Carmel, I stand ready to help the City Council’s $125,000 decision to explore a film festival for Carmelistas. “Explore” usually means “build a phony-baloney rationale to give elected officials some visibility and keep people distracted from what’s going on.”
In case the municipal magi are seriously weighing the pro’s and con’s of a film fest, here are some facts to consider.
Movie attendance peaked back in 2002, according to the theater association’s data. And even a small spike in 2018 didn’t entirely wipe out the decline experienced in 2017. The reasons are many but some include Netflix, Hulu and other on-line services, the DVR capabilities in most homes and, alas, a lack of content other than violence, sex and endless preaching.
Within days of the city’s breathless film flim-flam, the other Carmel — Carmel by the Sea — cancelled its prestigious International Film Festival,announcing:
“After much thought and deliberation, Board of Directors have agreed that we will not continue with the Film Festival. The film business is going through dramatic changes in their model, film technology, coupled with changes in our organization. While endings are always bittersweet, we are grateful for nine fantastic years of fun, entertainment and support.”
Nationally, movie retailing has been in decline for some time. In 1930, two out of three Americans went to the movies at least once a week. By 1964, the rate fell to less than 10 percent and has remained there since.
Movies, then, are not alone. Since 2012, 18-to-24-year-old TV viewing has fallen 43.6 percent. Only people 65 and older watch as much TV as they did in 2011. Every other demographic set is in decline. Pew Research reports all the old, mass media segments are in decline with the sole exception of radio.
Here in Carmel, we are not immune to the trends. A city of more than 92,000 musters an average 467 patrons at the 1,800 Center for the Performing Arts events since it opened, according to the mayor.
Now, the municipal magi tagged former Current reporter and part owner of a Main Street pasta shop, Adam Aasen, to prepare the way. Aasen is running for City Council, by coincidence.
In his wisdom, pre-announced the decision that $125,000 will buy.
In October, 2016, the Indianapolis Star wondered “Why Are There So Many Film Festivals?” It listed 23. Now, there probably will be 24.
“Damn the iceberg, full steam ahead,” the Titanic captain was overhead saying.