The rapidly changing entertainment industry has been greatly impacted by the global pandemic, which halted many opportunities and productions. The influence of COVID-19 on the entertainment industry, however, comes with “winners and losers,” Professor Guttentag stated during an interview. “Cinemas and live performances are the losers,” he said, when people stop going there: eventually, there is no revenue, resulting in layoffs and suffering profits. Even so, Professor Guttentag also noted that “some companies, such as Disney, Hulu and Apple, were the beneficiaries of people sitting at home. People are still consuming a lot of content — they’re just not going to theaters.” Ultimately, with the lockdown, Professor Guttentag believes that “video-game companies are winners, streamers are winners; theatrical is kind of a loser, and other parts of the entertainment industry that are pretty obvious, like music, really suffered: Broadway shows really suffered, and theater in general really suffered.”
Oscar-winning professor at Stanford predicts the future for the entertainment industry
Professor Guttentag predicts that “some of the trends are probably going to be exacerbated,” as the pandemic has created hardship for middle-tier movies. With COVID-19, the increase of streaming services will cut into the entertainment business — evident with the films that were nominated for the Oscars last year: “There were a lot of streamer movies, like Sound of Metal and Mank,” Guttentag states. Essentially, the future for the entertainment industry, he said, will see the “streamers picking up what are usually called the mid-level movies,” and “podcasts will grow like crazy.”
International expansion and diversification will continue in the entertainment Industry
Guttentag states that the “box office is a very international business … over 70% of box-office revenue at movies is international — not just in North America.” For years, statistics have shown that China was expected to surpass the U.S. box office; this year, it did. “I think you’ll see the same trends with streamers and gaming,” Guttentag said.
The number-one-ranked TV series right now is “Squid Games” from Korea. Guttentag believes “that kind of reflects which way the industry is going,” as it is an international show with a very large worldwide audience. “Squid games” is a perfect example of diversification: “To some extent it’s already seen that people are just more open to other cultures.”
He also mentions that the “U.S. has always been defined by immigration, and it continues to be” — which has been contributing to the diversity of cultures in the entertainment industry. For example, “some of the hit shows on Netflix are truly international … it was a big deal that Parasite (a foreign-language film) won the Oscar,” Guttentag said. “I think you are going to see more of this in upcoming years.”
With more cultures included in the entertainment industry, TV series are being asked how they will play internationally — and it’s been asked in the U.S. and in “places that have healthy exported films — Korea is a really good example: it has roughly 15 million people, but its impact on the entertainment industry is just enormous,” Professor Guttentag said. Nonetheless, TV series will continue to expand in diversification across cultures, as well as movies and music.
Stanford community and the entertainment industry
Before the interview, Professor Guttentag had just finished teaching “Intersection of Art and Commerce” at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “One thing to remember is the whole entertainment industry is all about art and commerce,” said Guttentag. “It’s not show-show or business-business — it’s show-business … so I teach a balance to Stanford students.” Stanford is unique in that position within Silicon Valley, since Silicon Valley really helps define the future of entertainment. A lot of the students Professor Guttentag is teaching are trying to see this mixture of the different sides of the entertainment industry. Guttentag is also an advisor to a company called “Master Class,” a product of the Graduate School of Business at Stanford. “Films which do socially meaningful things have come out of the school, and there are a lot of companies from students that come out of Stanford,” Guttentag said. “I think it’s just natural when you’re in Silicon Valley.”
Video by Joanna Zhu. Zhu is a high schooler producing content as a part of the The Stanford Daily’s 2021 High School Multimedia Workshop.