Listen to Steven Soderbergh on the Future of Cinema

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 29 2013 5:12 PM

Steven Soderbergh on the Future of Cinema

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Steven Soderbergh.

Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images.

Steven Soderbergh may have “retired” from directing movies, but he’s remained very busy doing movie-director things. He’s helping Channing Tatum work on a Magic Mike sequel, apparently, and his HBO movie about Liberace is coming out soon. He’s working on a 12-hour miniseries adaptation of John Barth’s The Sot-Weed Factor. In a more literary vein, he tweeted a novella.

He also just gave a much talked about State of Cinema address at the San Francisco International Film Festival. It’s a bit of a barn-burner, full of anger at the clueless studios. “Cinema is under assault by the studios,” Soderbergh says, and “with the full support of the audience.” And yet he hasn’t lost hope entirely, seeing promise, for instance, in the more affordable movie-making allowed by digital technology. (“Whenever people start to get weepy about celluloid,” Soderbergh thinks of a quote he attributes to Orson Welles: “I don't want to wait on the tool. I want the tool to wait on me.”)

He gets into some detail about financial figures, saying that studios insist that it costs $30m to market a film domestically and another $30m internationally. (He also says the electric bill for the Ocean’s 13 casino set was $60,000 a week.) The whole thing is worth a listen.

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David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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