Top Stories
Top Stories

How will Hollywood tackle Trump?

The relationship between President Trump and Hollywood has only just begun, but by many accounts it will be contentious.

Stars -- most notably Meryl Streep -- have used live TV events such as the Golden Globes and the Oscars to send direct messages to the President via acceptance speeches. Others like Judd Apatow have been critical of Trump on platforms like .

The AMC 25 and Regal Cinemas on 42nd Street in Times Square in New York.
Richard Levine | Corbis | Getty Images

Late night TV shows including "Saturday Night Live" have slammed the President weekly, knowing full well that he is watching.

The biggest question now is how the film industry will react to the Trump era. Will it be a boon or bust for business in Tinseltown? If history is to be believed, the answer is rather complicated.

Mark Crispin Miller, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and author of "Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order," thinks Hollywood understands the opportunity that Trump creates for the industry -- even in the face of potential retribution.

"It would be unwise to ignore this," he said. "It's possible that the Trump administration exerts some pressure at the top, but it's risky for Hollywood not to vilify him." Miller contends that we may see a harkening back to classic 1970's era corruption films such as "Chinatown" and "The Godfather Part 2," which were reflective of a culture of unfettered power, rather than films that are a direct rebuke of Trump.

Super Bowl ad gets political?

"Watch the Super Bowl or the Oscars. There are commercials about tolerance and immigration. Large corporations are clamoring to attack Trump's bigotry," he said.

Unlike Professor Miller, Steve Ross, Professor of History at the University of Southern California and author of "Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics" sees the risks a little differently.

"Hollywood is in the money business. They have to be careful. In 1915 we had federal investigations into censorship. We could see extensive IRS investigations. Trump could goad the Senate into doing what it did in 1941," he said.

Axelle | Bauer-Griffin | GC Images

Ross is referring to Senate subcommittee investigations in 1941 that explored whether or not Hollywood was making pro-World War 2 films before Pearl Harbor, which some claimed were an attempt to advocate for the U.S. entering the war. He predicts there will be many parallels to films of that era.

Pointing to movies like Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," Ross argues that "we're going to see films about corruption that bring down people of power to make people laugh at them." He added, "but they will be careful. Hollywood doesn't want the government interfering with business."

Source: Keystone studios

Like Ross, Brett Gary, Associate Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at NYU says Hollywood understands its demographics and will take the risk.

According to Gary, moviegoers are going to see films that are more visibly diverse, highlighting issues of immigration, deportation, and the black experience.

"Millennials want to see people of color. They don't want to see the white heroics anymore. If we see more deportations, we're going to see films that have to deal with tearing families apart."

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a luncheon at the Congress of Tomorrow Republican Member Retreat January 26, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Alex Wong | Getty Images

Gary views any potential backlash from Trump or his supporters as an upside for Hollywood. "There is a calculated risk in audiences and demographics. If the religious right or somebody in power says 'hey don't see this movie' people will lineup around the block," he argued.

Statistics suggest that anti-Trump movies could even be good for business.

According to a 2015 Motion Picture Association of America Theatrical Market Statistics Report, film companies made $27.2 billion abroad, compared to $11.1 billion in U.S. ticket sales. On the domestic side, 51% of sales come from women, and the largest share of ticket buyers were 25-39 years old. The most recent Gallup survey shows Trump's approval rating dwindling among women and millennials, meaning that there's an appetite for anti-Trump films.

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event for Hillary Clinton at Capital University on November 1, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.
Ty Wright | Getty Images

There's no doubt that the White House has had a large impact on Hollywood throughout the years and vice versa.

Ross argues that the film industry will strengthen Obama's legacy.

"I think you have already begun to see Obama benefiting from nostalgia over that era. There have been two biopics and many nostalgic documentaries already," he said.

Miller adds that pop culture overlooked Obama's actual polices, instead focusing on his personality. "The satire movement was paralyzed by the Obamas. His persona was so powerful it overshadowed his actual policies."

There was one issue that all three professors unanimously agreed moviegoers would be seeing more of in the next few years: immigrants and refugees.