Frankly, I’m surprised to hear that Variety had still been appearing in print. Joe Flint at the Los Angeles Times:
Leslie Moonves has had the same morning routine for decades.
“The first thing I do after getting out of the shower is pick up Daily Variety and have a cup of coffee,” the CBS Corp. chief executive said. “It’s a 30-year habit.”
That habit is ending for Moonves and lots of other Hollywood power players, movie and television stars, producers and publicists and thousands of wannabes: Daily Variety is ceasing as a print publication after almost 80 years. Tuesday’s edition [yesterday’s, that is] is its last.
“They’re getting out of the buggy whip business,” said Stan Rosenfield, a veteran Hollywood publicist whose client list includes George Clooney and Robert De Niro.
Well, no. The problem isn’t that Variety has been producing buggy whips in a Model T world. The problem is that, to strain the metaphor, time was only guys who drove horse-drawn cabs needed buggy whips, and now the masses of horse-drawn-cab fans have decided to produce their own buggy whips and give them away for free.
Used to be, the only people who cared about box-office returns were studio execs and filmmakers who had a movie opening that weekend. Now, no film geek worth calling a film geek cannot rattle off what the biggest opener of the year so far has been, and what’s the next tentpole is projected to earn worldwide, and which studio will be in trouble if their would-be summer blockbuster doesn’t have a $100 million debut. Fewer film fans care as much about the shuffling of vice presidents at the major studios, but more do than would have been the case when Variety was truly trade-only and came with a ritzy trade-only subscription price. When we can follow the doings of our favorite actor-turned-producer on Twitter — *cough* @hitRECordJoe *cough* — who needs Variety?
Maybe Rosenfield’s analogy refers not to trade news overall but trade news in print. Back to the L.A. Times:
With more readers getting their news from the Internet, the print version of Daily Variety has become passe and less profitable. Advertising revenue at the paper has dropped dramatically over the last several years, and a move to charge for Variety’s content online drove customers to the free websites of its chief rivals Deadline Hollywood and the Hollywood Reporter. Variety made about $6 million last year, a far cry from the more than $30 million it made in 2006.
“We were delivering a print product telling you stories you’ve already read on our website,” Variety Publisher Michelle Sobrino said. “Financially it didn’t make sense.”
Nope, probably didn’t make sense. But I suspect it’s still going to be rough going for Variety (sans italics now that it’s no longer in print) even as a mostly digital product. I bet the weekly print version it will continue to publish isn’t long for this world, either.