Posted by: ckckred | August 2, 2013

Is Cinema Dying?

hollywood

Since the early 80s, when New Hollywood collapsed on itself, film has been on decline.  Studios demanded more and greater control over their films and many legendary directors of the 70s like Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Altman struggled in the preceding decade.  In the preceding decades, movies have become more and more prolific, with mostly standard action pictures and comedies dominating theaters.  For those like myself, it’s largely unsatisfying.

What annoys me is that a majority of films we see today are essentially the same.  This year alone we have a few superhero movies (Iron Man 3, Man of Steel), animated features (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, Turbo), and high name profile comedies (This Is The End, Grown Ups 2), as with last year and the year before that and so on.  If you looked at all the movies I mentioned, all are essentially sequels, reboots, or based on existing material (with the exceptions of This Is The End and Turbo) and most of them received either mixed or negative reviews (Grown Ups 2 has a 19 on Metacritic).  That’s not necessarily a criticism to say (This Is The End is currently in my top 5 for 2013 thus far), but originality appears to be scarce these days.

coenbros460

Still, calling cinema as a whole today bad today would be wrong.  There are plenty of great filmmakers working today, like Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coens, and Michael Haneke, plus Martin Scorsese is probably the lone director consistently making strong films since the 70s.  But the strongest movies these days seem to come from independent or foreign markets, where directors have more creative control.  It essentially is a continuation of New Hollywood, except on a lower budget.  Moviemakers like Richard Linklater and Kathryn Bigelow can exert more effort in their work, creating films as great as the recent Before Midnight and Zero Dark Thirty.  And I think some recent movies, like The Tree of Life and Holy Motors, have strong potential to be future classics.

before-midnight-image

But while many indie movies did well, they’re often dwarfed but the massive productions Hollywood makes.  Take this for example: Beasts of the Southern Wild grossed less than a fiftieth of what The Avengers made in 2012.  Every major movie these days seems to have a budget ranging in the hundreds of millions of dollars, which has resulted in some massive flops, like The Lone Ranger or White House Down.  Recently, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, the two biggest names in Hollywood, predicted that the movie industry would be only dominated only by enormous commercial movies (Spielberg even said his critical and box-office hit Lincoln was close to being on HBO).  I’m unsure whether Spielberg’s prediction that big scale movies will only be played in theaters (though it is kind of true right now), but it’s a possibility.

But what do you think of the state of contemporary cinema?

For similarly themed posts, check out these articles at the AV Club and Cinema Train.

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Responses

  1. I think it depends on what you look at. I think if you don’t only focus on American movies the picture is quite different as local cinema creates some amazing movies. Just look at something like Intouchables, not a high budget movie and very successfull. Alright it was a comedy, but it was based on real events.

    When it comes to big budget movies I’m not complaining as I enjoy watching those at the cinema. The smaller budget movies I usually see at home.

    • Thanks for the comment. I feel that most big budget Hollywood movies strive for originality. Most of the best films seem to be from indie or foreign markets.

  2. I think cinema may be dying but I don’t think the movie industry is dying. The way we watch films is changing but there’s still a huge amount of good stuff being made, you might just have to look for it. Fortunately, with the internet, it’s now not as hard as it was to watch stuff from across the other side of the world. 20 years ago it was almost impossible to watch something made in Iran or Chile or wherever, but now it’s relatively easy.
    So I wouldn’t say it’s dead but it’s changing. In some ways for the better and some ways for the worse.

    • Thanks for the comment. Good point. One thing I do like about film today is that it’s easier for audiences to learn about smaller movies. Still, I often feel indie and foreign releases are often shoved to the side. It’ll be interesting to see what the movie industry is in ten years or so.

  3. Very good piece. I’ve been pretty vocal about some of the problems I see in Hollywood but I’m not sure who to put the blame on. For example look at the comedy genre. Hollywood knows one kind of comedy now – raunchy. Every couple of weeks now we get yet another raunchy comedy. This year alone, the release calendar is full if them. But why is that? Is it because they lack any creativity or are they simply holding up a mirror to society? Whatever it is its making me sick and frustrated. Luckily there are a small handful of comedies that don’t stick by this overused formula but not enough to keep me from growing more and more disenchanted with the industry.

    • Thanks! Yeah, I agree with you on comedies these days. I feel that most crude comedies just make a quick cheap buck without a second thought to their viewers.

  4. Did Steven Spielberg and George Lucas really lament that the movie industry would be only dominated only by enormous commercial movies? I find that so ironic.

    It’s interesting to note that many “Hollywood” movies Battleship, Pacific Rim, The Hangover II, The Wolverine, do poorly in the U.S. but are successful in the International market. If there was no demand for these films, there would be no supply.

    • That should be The Hangover Part 3.

    • Thanks for the comment. Yeah, they did say it, which is pretty ironic (for some reason, I didn’t realize that until you said so).

      I was thinking about how foreign markets are playing big roles in the box office, so much so I think they now eclipse the US gross for many movies.

  5. This conversation is popping up more and more lately. Everyone complains that movies are getting worse, but I don’t know that that’s true. I think there have always been cheesy movies as well as good movies. And even looking within the realm of just blockbusters there are varying degrees of quality,

    • Thanks for the comment. There are great mainstream directors like Chris Nolan, but I feel that most Hollywood movies have the same formula, though you do make a good point about the varying degrees of blockbusters.

  6. I sure agree! I do think the industry is dying — maybe good news for Robert Redford who had the foresight to instigate the birth of independent films. I’m vastly tired of reboots and sequels to action hero comics. Seems like 8 out of 10 films today are garbage. I find myself more and more returning to classics or investigating foreign films because while there’s garbage in every decade, I have a whole century to revisit the finest of the fine.

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad you agree. Indie and foreign movies have the originality that Hollywood lacks.

  7. No

  8. I agree that great pieces of cinema are being produced, although the amount of decreasing every years.

    However, I cannot get behind Spielberg and Lucas’ thoughts; essentially, they’re the two people responsible for Hollywood’s demise, with Jaws and Star Wars.

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad you agree. There are some great directors like the Coens and Anderson, but a majority of movies these days seem to be overly formulaic. Yeah, it is pretty ironic that Spielberg and Lucas would be saying that since their movies led to greater studio control.

  9. Good topic! I have some thoughts on my “About” page regarding some of these same issues, but I think it has a lot to do with the screenwriting and the way they’re being trained; check it out when you have a minute: http://garylee828.wordpress.com/about/

    • Thanks! I’ll be sure to check your link.

  10. What I’d like to see happen is when after all of the known scheduled movies are released, Hollywood takes a one-year break and reevaluates itself. The theaters will probably need to discuss with the studios what movies can be re-released for this hiatus; that is if people don’t have Netflix, like me.

    It’s a LONG shot but maybe we’d get some smarter material.

    • Thanks for the comment. That’s an interesting idea. Personally, I’d like to see Hollywood give directors more creative control. Maybe if there was a movie hiatus, films would improve.

  11. Hollywood is milking it when it comes to 80s movies. Sequel after sequel, or remake (google up for ’20 films you probably didn’t know are getting remade’. They simply do not want to take the chance with originality any more, when they can rely on previous successes. It’s sad when classic movies are remade just for the youth of today or to ‘improve’ via CGI, yet fall flat when it comes to acting or a rehashed storyline.
    It’s all about making the most money they can I suppose. Some movies are beginning to feel like big money tv shows rather than cinema, with a constant reboot every second year or so (Fast & The Furious 7, anyone?)

  12. […] the year out of the way, it is time to turn my attention to films. Despite growing concern that the film industry is close to collapsing, 2013 saw the rise of many unique and interesting films along with some stellar blockbusters […]


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