The long, slow suicide by Hollywood's trade magazines continues, as Variety just axed their best movie reviewers, including their top Asia reviewer Derek Elley.
Now, I can see getting rid of some expensive reviewers, especially in Hollywood (where, let's face it, reviewing the latest blockbuster means pretty close to nothing). But for less well known markets, like Asia, having reviewers who know the countries, the creatives and the history is pretty important. And Derek has long been one of the smartest and more important reviewers of Asian films.
Perhaps the modern economics of media just do not include a place for reviewers anymore. Film companies have other ways of getting out word about their movies. And just about anyone can blog their opinions, no matter how facile (hello!). But I still think Variety is losing more than they are saving by getting rid of someone like Derek.
This is just the latest in a long line of moves the movie trade magazines have made to eviscerate their publications. Variety created Variety Asia Online, then shut it down. The Hollywood Reporter had THR-Asia, then shut it down. Screen still has an Asia presence (the strongest of the three), but for how long? Film Business Asia is off to a promising start, but is still just that, a start -- and it does not have reviews.
Movies in Asia pull in over $6 billion a year, in theatrical revenue alone. Maybe nearing $7 billion, depending on how you measure these things. I find it hard to believe that there is not room for or need for a decent publication (online or offline) about the Asian film industry.