Let’s All Go To The Movies: Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon

Reckon you can get a film greenlit from script to cinema? Now's your chance in Moviehouse - The Film Studio Tycoon.

Ah… the movies – what a pleasure. Having spent much of my life watching films and studying them (both for fun and academically), Odyssey Studios and Assemble Entertainment decided to make Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon. Since its announcement, I’ve been keen to catch a preview. This is even better – I received a review code, so here are some words.

Fortunately, this isn’t a hammy FMV or choose your own adventure – it’s more of a management game where you get accustomed to plate spinning. No, not literally, but before you can embrace the sheer delight of getting a script done, you have to produce your flick, market it, and before embracing the sheer delight of praise from the critics, you’re developing another film!

Alas, Hollywood is full of shitbags, and it is indeed a machine. Once you make your first film in Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon, you immediately work on the next. You can see why cinema is overpopulated with tosh. Oh dear, this all sounds negative, right? Not at all – that’s showbiz, and this management simulator captures it as well as one can imagine, only with fewer egos.

Moviehouse - The Film Studio Tycoon Review - Set piece
Set piece. Source: Steam

Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon Review

Before you can make it big, you have to start from the bottom, which means picking a company name and logo and then hiring your first employee. As a regular procrastinator when it comes to customisation, I did spend a little time coming up with a name and suitable logo as, like all of us, I love movies and games, and writing. I can hire a screenwriter? I’ll do it! First reality check: it’s automated, and no, you can’t write and sing the theme tune.

Yes, the first step in your career is hiring a screenwriter, choosing one with a good balance of stats – initially creativity and craft. You’ll then devise a script by picking a genre, establishing characters, locations and loose plots. You’ll have some input now and then once it’s finished, hire a director and do the same thing, only this time source a location, budget, cast, work out how to spend that budget and so on.

Though there are some tooltips, Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon isn’t really that friendly on how to play, and there were quite a few trial and error clicks until I got it. While your film is being made, your screenwriter is idle, which can affect their happiness and also exhaustion levels, so you can fire them and save money or send them on vacation. Even better? Train them up and improve their stats so they write better scripts, thus appealing to a broader audience.

Moviehouse - The Film Studio Tycoon Review - Box office hit
Box office hit. Source: Steam

Jump Cut

Training and managing your crew in Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon is an organic process, and it didn’t take long to see their stats improve, setting new records compared to the last film. However, emphasis is on trial and error again, as you may find that investing extra time and a bigger budget doesn’t guarantee success. In this case, you will market your films via film festivals and watch out for some traits that can potentially boost your success.

For example, my first experience was writing comedy flicks. As a result, my writer was better in this genre and unlocked new ‘cards’ with key scenes, characters and more, thus improving the chances of a critical hit. And by a critical hit, I mean making money. While my writer(s) won awards, my director had a hard time with the cast and managing budgets. In Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon, you can use a slider to allocate the budget to different departments, and again, it’s trial and error.

As you get bigger, so do your options – making blockbusters with a bigger budget, hiring crews to scout locations, building props and whatnot. It gets mildly overwhelming at times, but before long, you can invest in other studios, which cover your outgoings pretty well. Aside from the management side, there are some filmmaking trivia types questions where you will be asked questions to explain jargon or when to use something like an establishing shot. *Smug look on my face* these bits were easy for me, and I enjoyed the input. Other than that, it’s a rinse-and-repeat scenario.

Verdict

While Moviehouse – The Film Studio Tycoon isn’t going to secure you a position in the film industry, conclude that elusive script you’ve been working on, or help you buy that Ferrari, it’s a fun management game with a film theme where you can also show off your movie knowledge. Subtle features like name generators for films and reviewing posters of your back catalogue are a nice touch, too.