Barry Diller On the Demise of Hollywood

“It’s truly finished. It’s never coming back.”

Barry Diller had the classic Hollywood storybook rise: he started in the mailroom of the William Morris Agency. By 1974 Diller was the president and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a position he held for 10 years.

During that run Paramount released movies including Saturday Night Fever, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Reds, and Terms of Endearment. From 1984 to 1992 Diller was chairman and CEO at 20th Century Fox. He founded the Fox TV network.

Now 82, Diller is chairman and senior executive at IAC—which includes Dotdash Meredith, which publishes, among many other things, Entertainment Weekly) and The Daily Beast—and the Expedia Group (cue the Ewan McGregor voiceover).

Diller, who has worked the large screen, the home screen and the array of digital screens, recently gave it to Hollywood in the neck, saying that for the “major motion picture companies” “It’s truly finished. It’s never coming back.”

In an interview with Margaret Hoover on Firing Line, Hoover pointed out that back when Diller was at Paramount, the action for the actors, writers and directors was in movies but now it is all about going to streaming outlets (unless, she acknowledged, it involves a franchise like Avatar). She wanted to know why.

Barry Diller

Diller explained that Netflix, allowing people to watch what they wanted when they wanted in a convenient way caused the ground to shift under the traditional entertainment business model.

Diller: “And then along comes the pandemic, and that increases the shift because people stay home more, etc., etc. So there are more subscriptions, etc. The entire movie business crashes because there’s no movie theaters, because people can’t go to the theaters. And that whole infrastructure of– the hegemony, let’s call it, of Hollywood, which had ruled for 75, 80 years, it only took three or four years for it to totally disappear. Totally disappear in the sense that it’s over. There is no hegemony anymore of those, let’s call it those major motion picture companies.”

And he hadn’t finished. He said, “There really is no movie business any more. It doesn’t exist. The whole motion picture role of, let’s say Hollywood producing about 125 movies a year, rolling them out theatrically, that’s over.”

The Oscars? “They are no longer a national audience worth its candle because that audience is really no longer interested.”

Somehow it is hard to imagine Barry Diller getting an invitation to the Dolby Theater next month or to the Vanity Fair Oscar after-party. Well, maybe the latter. His wife is Diane von Furstenberg.

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Stephen Macaulay

Stephen Macaulay writes about the music industry for Glorious Noise ( began his career in Rockford, Illinois, a place about which Warren Zevon once told a crowd, “How can you miss with a name like Rockford?”

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