Recessionary Tremors: Dan Jinks

By Kyle Buchanan

Originally published on Advocate.com December 01 2008 2:40 PM ET

Though his 1999 film American Beauty focused on a suburban family in crisis, producer Dan Jinks wonders whether the country’s current financial state might preclude dramas like that from being made today. “I think this recession we’re in is just going to make it harder than ever to make movies that aren’t a bit more escapist,” he says. “One wonders how many major studios today would take that risk of making American Beauty, and that’s scary. You think, What terrific movie out there is not getting made because of the conservative times we’re in?”

Jinks predicts that independent film, which he says has been doing badly for a while, will see the biggest damage. “Any of these companies that have been relying on bank loans to finance movies will be affected by what’s going on here,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that movies can’t be a good investment, but investors are going to want as much security as possible.”

To that end, Jinks predicts that multiplexes will be flooded with even more comedies and comic book–derived movies than before, though he notes that TV (for which he produces the whimsical Pushing Daisies) so far seems paradoxically immune from that trend.

“I don’t think that people want to watch TV to get depressed, but in terms of what’s working right now with audiences, they still like gritty crime dramas,” he says. “They’re doing extraordinarily well this season, whereas other kinds of more escapist shows are more ratings-challenged right now.”

One might expect wealthy Hollywood players to be insulated from the financial crisis, but Jinks says, “We’ve all been affected by it. Anyone who has anything in a money market or an IRA has felt the effects of it. It is a scary thing, and, obviously, every industry will be affected by it.” Still, Jinks isn’t too worried—he points out that during the Great Depression, other industries took a major hit, but the movie business thrived.

“I do feel fortunate that I work in a business that has been historically able to succeed during a time of financial crisis,” he says. “People still like going to movies and they still like watching television, thank goodness!”