Guilds will go on strike, digital video costs will skyrocket, a streamer will win the best picture Oscar and more forecasts as 40-plus top industry players place their bets.
It's impossible to know what, exactly, the future holds, particularly in an era of unprecedented transformation — but that's never stopped smart people from prognosticating. As the decade draws to a close, The Hollywood Reporter asked more than 40 of them — from the heads of studios to the faces of movements — to weigh in with their predictions for the year ahead.
Some were decidedly bold with their bets (Apple will buy Netflix! Quibi will flounder! Sony, Lionsgate and MGM will merge!); others more hopeful, with declarations about original content making a comeback, a strike by the guilds being thwarted, a rising of the underrepresented and the end of nondisclosure agreements, to name a few.
Still more wondered aloud why more people aren’t talking about such things as the proliferation of "meh" TV ("There’s a depletion of resources above the line and below, not enough care in helping a show become great," says Annapurna chief content officer Sue Naegle); or, per attorney Craig Jacobson of Hansen Jacobson, how "Amazon is going to take an increasing share of the advertising market away from the traditional and new players given the fact that it has more data on consumer purchasing habits than anyone."
Apple+, Quibi and Peacock admit (by their actions) that they cannot truly and effectively compete in the streaming wars.
The Black List founder
An unfortunate percentage of the industry will continue to underestimate the improvement that real inclusion could make to their bottom lines.
Women in Film president
A studio will buy a theater chain and the shrinking of windows will finally begin.
Sony and Netflix will be bought by Amazon or Apple.
STACY L. SMITH
Annenberg Inclusion Initiative founder
Five of the top 15 films of 2020 will have a female director attached.
Short strikes by the guilds, tech dominance, agency spinoffs and, sadly, fewer major studios.
Netflix chief content officer
More Americans will watch stories from other countries.
Apple decides to go big and buys Disney or Netflix, or simply decides this business isn't really selling many of its products and decides to get out altogether. Not a big impact on their bottom line, either way.
The streamers are going to have to fall into a profit participation model in the next 18 months. The [backend] buyout days are slowly numbered.
Young Entertainment Activists president
BoJack Horseman comes true and the assistants of Hollywood unionize! And everyone in the industry gets the day off to vote.
There will be more acquisitions by U.S. conglomerates of foreign-based production companies who excel in local-language product.
Artist International Group CEO
A pivot back to individual voices, much like independent cinema in the '90s. Personal storytelling will replace franchise fatigue; indie film will be back.
All the major technology companies start to realize that entertainment has to be an inherent part of their strategy, bringing major investment and new thinking.
Expenditures on digital video in 2020 will far surpass even the most optimistic predictions. Indeed, over the next three to four years, my guess is that more than $200 billion will be directed to SVOD/AVOD digital streaming services.
Original content will make a comeback. Off the success of Knives Out, studios will remember that IP isn't everything. We can dream, right?
Producer and president of production for Seven Bucks Productions
Apple will acquire a big content creator. They are going to spend big money to work with someone who is already doing things right.
Netflix film chief
Musicals and international storytellers.
HBO Max original content head
Ending nondisclosure agreements.
People alternating between deciding which streaming service to go with and fretting that Trump is going to win reelection.
Time's Up executive director
The rising of the underrepresented.
LESLI LINKA GLATTER
The woman. We've already seen substantial increases in female and diverse directors in TV, which is wonderful, and hopefully, 2020 will yield the same kind of increases in film, which still hovers at around 4 percent.
AMC Networks CEO
The Big Fan. People will increasingly define themselves by their entertainment passions, with fan communities and interactivity supporting and complementing video on all platforms.
"Pain," to quote Clubber Lang in Rocky III. The incredible rate of spending and competition in the home market is going to be bloody, and there will be a few winners and a lot of losers.
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert showrunner
Corporate social media giants will be held more accountable for what content blasts forth on their platforms.
Aggressive congressional scrutiny on Hollywood's cozy relationship with China.
Middle-of-the-night writing frenzies. The Muse of Election Terror will emerge from her slumber. We will see some bold strokes, some great art, some nervous breakdowns.
NBC Nightly News anchor
Producer and Gold House co-founder
Women prove, without a doubt, that they can direct blockbusters.
The representation business model correction. Music, film and TV have adapted to new consumer habits, and representation must finally adjust.
Annapurna Pictures chief content officer
Working out merger madness and hopefully avoiding a strike.
Disney+ content and marketing president
Unparalleled access to great storytelling.
How 5G will change how we make, distribute and watch entertainment.
MICHAEL H. WEBER
The managers and attorneys who are kicking ass on behalf of writers who no longer have agents.
How Amazon is going to take an increasing share of the advertising market away from the traditional and new players given the fact that it has more data on consumer purchasing habits than anyone.
Too much "meh" TV. There's a depletion of resources above the line and below, not enough care in helping a show become great.
The death of physical media and how the major studios could more effectively invest in the talent pipeline to the industry's and their own benefit.
The underrepresentation of Latinx and Middle Eastern talent.
DAVID P. WHITE
SAG-AFTRA national executive director
The rapidly changing demographics of our country.
Making better and a wider array of movies.
The remarkable stability of the domestic theatrical business.
Hollywood's constantly decreasing market share in China.
Why unconscious bias training hasn't worked, and the specific psychological mechanisms that prevent equality.
How automation is transforming the job market.
Verizon Media CEO
5G. The future of media and entertainment industries will be among the first to benefit and transform.
AMC Networks Entertainment Group president
It's funny to say, but YouTube. Very talented kids who grew up on user-generated video content are now entering their creative prime. And what's their dream? To create content for the outlets that they grew up on … places like YouTube.
Virtual Beings, from digital assistants to persona-based curators to nearly indistinguishable deep fakes.
The return of live entertainment — which, for talent, is dwarfing many more traditional revenues.
Gold House co-founder and tech entrepreneur
Southeast Asia. They boast some of the most populated countries in the world (Indonesia), over-index in social media consumption on several platforms and are big fans of Western sensibilities.
Getting more involved civically. We can't wait for Greta Thunberg to wake us up.
Harvey going to jail?
[Elizabeth Gabler's] 3000 Pictures.
Lionsgate. Ripe for an acquisition, and having a banner year in film and TV under new management.
Marginal [MediaWorks]. They're on the front line of inclusive, next-generation storytelling.
Joan's on Third. They could take a packaging fee on half their business between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.
A24. I have good faith in their model — and that we're going to see a lot more companies that work at that budget level come along.
Sony, Lionsgate and MGM merge.
Netflix takes home the Oscar for best picture.
The WGA and the agencies will finally realize that the damage done to their collective future by vertical integration, with no third-party sales, is far greater than the damage they've done to each other.
Hopefully some exhibitor or company cracks the nut of keeping people in theaters or inspiring people to keep going to theaters — especially for comedies. There's something about sitting in a theater and laughing contagiously with other people.
Long overdue nonexclusive series deals for actors and writers.
Paradigm Talent Agency chairman
A resolution to the WGA-agency conflict.
More female directors nominated for awards!
Streamers will disclose viewership numbers more and more, given how competitive streaming is about to become.
Former first-dollar gross players will sell their private planes to people with giant streaming deals.
This story first appeared in the Dec. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.