Has Hollywood become too Dependent On Blockbuster films?

Rodders

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Agreed Baylor, but it is still a remake.

Sequels, prequels, series and remakes is pretty much what we're getting these days. I wouldn't say that things are in decline, either. I mean, someone is obviously buying billions of dollars of Marvel tickets, right? :giggle:

I'm still entertained by Hollywood. My love of Star Wars hasn't diminished. I'll go and see the new Terminator movie and the next Marvel and DC output, but they're all formulaic. I don't look toward the US for movies that'll take me out of my comfort zone. I'm looking more at foreign language movies for that.
 

BAYLOR

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Agreed Baylor, but it is still a remake.

Sequels, prequels, series and remakes is pretty much what we're getting these days. I wouldn't say that things are in decline, either. I mean, someone is obviously buying billions of dollars of Marvel tickets, right? :giggle:

I'm still entertained by Hollywood. My love of Star Wars hasn't diminished. I'll go and see the new Terminator movie and the next Marvel and DC output, but they're all formulaic. I don't look toward the US for movies that'll take me out of my comfort zone. I'm looking more at foreign language movies for that.
I would like so see a Berserker movie baed on Fred Saberhagen's novels . or perhaps. Kane the Mystic Swordsman or William Hope Hodgson The House on the Borderland. :confused:

Yes Remakes , reboots an sequels do get to be tedious. 3 of my favorite summer movie seasons 1977, 1981 and 1982. Those three seasons had a magic ive never really seen again in subsequent summer movie seasons. :confused:
 

KGeo777

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In the 1940s the major studios were in court for blockbooking--an anti-competition practice where they forced cinemas to take all their films even if they only wanted a few. This would harm the business of smaller companies that had films the public wanted to see. There was a recent report about Disney no longer allowing revival theaters to run old FOX films. The theory is they want to free space so they can have the screen for their films. It is even worse than the 1940s--since it isn't about having several films but just more copies of the same--and having the screen occupied whether anyone is watching or not.
I don't know what can be done, but you know it's bad when filmmakers of reputation won't even talk about it. Scorsese is the champion of old film-he should be slamming Disney for it. I think everyone is afraid to get on the bad side of Disney which is part of the growing problem.
 

Vince W

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Clearly we are witnessing the beginnings of the Demolition Man effect. Soon all films will be Disney films.
 

Vince W

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I would like so see a Berserker movie baed on Fred Saberhagen's novels . or perhaps. Kane the Mystic Swordsman or William Hope Hodgson The House on the Borderland. :confused:

Yes Remakes , reboots an sequels do get to be tedious. 3 of my favorite summer movie seasons 1977, 1981 and 1982. Those three seasons had a magic ive never really seen again in subsequent summer movie seasons. :confused:
I still can't believe that no one has tried to do any of The Stainless Steel Rat or Retief. Both those characters should be easily filmed today.
 

BAYLOR

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Clearly we are witnessing the beginnings of the Demolition Man effect. Soon all films will be Disney films.
There was a Simpson episode with predicted that Fox would end up getting owned by Disney. The scary part is that one came to pass. :eek:
 

Vince W

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Massive, intelligent, super tanks should be a Hollywood no-brainer.
 

KGeo777

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"And if you’re going to tell me that it’s simply a matter of supply and demand and giving the people what they want, I’m going to disagree. It’s a chicken-and-egg issue. If people are given only one kind of thing and endlessly sold only one kind of thing, of course they’re going to want more of that one kind of thing."


"Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema. They still overlap from time to time, but that’s becoming increasingly rare. And I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other."

For anyone who dreams of making movies or who is just starting out, the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art. And the act of simply writing those words fills me with terrible sadness."
 

Dave

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If you want to make a film it has never been easier with the equipment available at a reasonable price. If you want to put it up on YouTube, it has never been easier to find an audience for it.

If, however, you want to make a fortune, be watched by millions of people, and become a famous celebrity, well... you can always go on X-Factor.
 

KGeo777

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But it is the loss of the small business film company that has been so destructive to western culture. Anyone can make an amateur film these days, but the loss is a business hub for those with merit. Like a new Walt Disney. If Walt Disney came out of Chicago now, his own company would not even let him in the front door. Merit is not a factor in their hiring practices.
 

Dave

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I totally agree, but I'm not sure you can therefore blame this "evil" Hollywood and say that it is because it has "become" dependent on "blockbusters". Isn't what you describe true of any "mature" industrial sector?

Try forming a new company to sell a Cola drink and see how far you get (even with the backing of a multi-millionaire i.e. Virgin Cola.) Try forming a new burger and shakes restaurant, and lasting past year one. Or just try breaking into any established market. It was different in Walt Disney's time because the "movie" industry was still relatively "new." To be that kind of success today, you should be starting up a company exploiting something also "new." Google, Apple, Microsoft; these companies had plenty of competition but beat them off, or are in the process of beating them off. You wouldn't want to try to form a rival company today unless you had something revolutionary to compete with them.

Merit is not a factor in their hiring practices.
On this separate point, if true, then that is bad business practice and will result in their eventual downfall. Companies need to keep up with their rivals and in the face of changing technology. You cannot do that with cronies and nepotism and restrictive hiring practises because you won't hire the best people and being mediocre is not an option if you want to stay top of your game. So, that will have a longer term effect.
 

Foxbat

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Simple fact is that Hollywood is not the movie industry and 'western culture' is not simply american culture.

There is a good, strong and healthy foreign film market out there. You just have to look for it. Indeed, many of Hollywood's movies are simply remakes of earlier foreign fare (Three Men and a Baby, The Ring, The Magnificent Seven....the list goes on). I got fed up with much of Hollywood's output a long time ago (although there are still one or two worthy offerings now and then) but still enjoy watching movies - just not primarily american movies.
 

KGeo777

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There are new cola companies! In fact, I was trying out a Canadian cola drink and that made me think: why is it so hard for a production company to come along when a new cola company can exist alongside Coca-Cola and other brands? You would think selling a movie for a return on investment would be easier than marketing and producing a boutique soft drink.

And Walt Disney was pretty much shunned by the entire major studio system-I think he got some help from Columbia for a little while which was poverty row in those days- he got some help from RKO which was a "mini-major" and eventually folded despite making King Kong, Citizen Kane and others. He became a household name because his content appealed to target audiences.
So I would say the problem is not a lack of talent or merit, but lack of business structure to accommodate them-and this is due in a major part to the narrow taste/anti-competition behavior of these companies. Hollywood is not the movie industry but they have eaten away much of Western film business.

But maybe it is heading for a crash and a reboot. I don't see how it can last-especially when the people in charge don't even like making movies--based on interviews and comments they have made in the press and their desire to remake a franchise after 2-3 years. It does not suggest enthusiasm.
 

Nozzle Velocity

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Scorsese's explanation of his comments in the NYT strikes me as inconsistent and largely Manichean in tone. There's a lot of merit in his description of the nature of cinema and how it has changed, but most of his attacks are too broad. If the Marvel Universe in not cinema due to its lack of risk and exploration, then neither are the 1930s and '40s adventure serials like Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, The Phantom and about 15 other serials I've watched in completion from that era. It's no secret that these were the blueprints for Star Wars and Indiana Jones, directed by Scorsese's friends, those students of film who, as he describes, "stood up for cinema as an equal to literature or music or dance." Generations of moviegoers were primed for the superhero era to come as they worshipped at the feet of Lucas and Spielberg. Not everything those directors did had Scorsese's vaunted element of risk, and not everything in the superhero genre is as soulless as its detractors claim. I could point to a lot of things in Scorsese’s piece that I think is wrong or right, but here's the crux: Scorsese doesn't understand the nature of mainstream American comics.

Ironically, he puts his finger directly on the pulse when he says the superhero films "lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist." Every Wednesday Warrior at the comics shops knows the only unifying vision of the Marvel/DC worlds is the illusion of change. You may not like it (and I'm not wild about it), but that's the art form of mainstream comics in a nutshell. It's one big, crazy, violent soap opera. Surprisingly, Marvel Studios has successfully transferred this paradigm directly onto the big screen. It's never cinematically been done before (with the possible exception of those old serials I mentioned), and it's not clear how long Marvel Studios can keep up this global juggling act. But it's no surprise that this approach to films would be unnerving to Scorsese. Personally, I like it when it works (Winter Soldier, Wonder Woman), but I think most of the time it fails or is repetitive. A character's storyline will erupt, zig and zag, wander off into non-compelling spaces, come back again. In other words, these films are doing precisely what mainstream American comics have been doing for over 80 years. It may be cynical on the studio's behalf, but saying it's not cinema is too arbitrary and misses some larger points.

The question regarding the long-term effects of the Marvel/DC approach to film milking is an important one. That's a debate Scorsese should be able to engage in without raising artificial boundaries. It leaves him sounding like his friend Steven Spielberg who said videogames weren't an art form because they didn't make you cry. After half a century, the litany of “literature or music or dance” now includes cinema, yet predictably, the list is somehow still restricted. Scorsese’s piece in the NYT looks like the beginning of a much-needed debate. But don’t be distracted by narrow definitions of “cinema”. On this score, much like Spielberg, Scorsese is setting the barrier, then backfilling with his argument.
 

KGeo777

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I watched an Italian peplum last night HERCULES VS THE MOON MEN-what struck me about it was how they, despite a limited budget, so easily avoided the narrative pitfalls of a MCU movie where they waste time with character banter unrelated to the story (I realize other comic book movies do this as well at times but not so regularly as a MCU film--even the musical scores are designed in executive board meetings). You have a hero dealing with threats, the plot drives the story. The average MCU movie has some stand up comedy routines and Pulp Fiction-type digressions. A superhero movie is supposed to be an adventure story first, not a comedy or discussion on global treaties or angst. The same goes for the 1930s serials. The Adventures of Captain Marvel was the first and probably remains the best costumed superhero film. It knew its audience. It did not waste time with things that had zero value to the story or purpose. That is the benefit of making films for a specific audience in stead of "one size fits all" approaches as Disney Corp tries to do.

Scorsese drew comic strips in his youth. He did Roman arena scenes. Maybe they were intended as storyboards. My feeling is that he didn't mind the shrinking film content and distribution as long as he was being catered to-and as the studio management became more corporate and indifferent, he lost it and understandably resents it. However, he certainly is knowledgeable about film and seemed interested in many genres despite a limited theme range for his own films. He's turned up in documentaries on Hammer, Cronenberg, all sorts of things. I believe he helped in restoring EL CID--there's a film with elements of a superhero film (strong morally-driven hero, equally determined antagonist).
One cannot expect much artistic skill in a film where a bunch of hedge fund managers are standing over their shoulders telling them what to do and they obediently follow orders.
 

olive

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First I want to say that I liked this thread, because in my very short time here yet, this is the first one I've seen in which people expressed their opinions in more black and white terms and less like a review. I don't know that if this is because it is always fashionable to bash the Tinseltown or simply again a 'what I like or don't like' issue, but the reason I am pointing this out, because this is related to the problem discussed in a micro level in my opinion.

Martin Scorsese is not just right, he is also being generous. It's not about enjoying these movies, loving American main stream comic culture, how popular it is, because providing reasons for why Marvel/DC blockbusters are so popular does not refute any of the points he raises, which he directly states anyway. Popularity doesn't point to 'good'. On the contrary, it usually points to 'bad'. This is not just about art.

He is merely saying there is no room for art, because there is no room for risk and by that he means there is no room for conflict in the content. Because there is no subtance. Without conflict, there is no art. That's why this genre has grown so fast and so big and they are all the same. So he is not talking about just taking a risk with making a big production.

It's the nature of the material. They jump to universes and worlds back and forth, forcing some epic scale, but the basic world of the stories is so small, it doesn't work. It can't work. There is no substance. And they are trying to use that nonsubstance from every possible angle which keeps falling short because there is no understanding left of 'good and evil' in this sense. So comes the stretching, embellishing in tons of grey...which is never enough. Finally we arrived to the celebration of the dark. Because these stories are sterilised. They are safe. They are traditional, conservative, politically correct respresentations of some bastardised notions -heroship, being saved, evil vs good, it is not people, but the evil...etc - pretending to create some 'conflicts' to the young generations who resemble each other far more than any previous generation existed in human history, despite of the culture or the country they were born and live in. The generations whose idea of 'conflict' in sense of development is creating-maintaining artificial identity wars online; the generations who are addicted to getting triggered by these fake conflicts to feel alive, feel like doing something; beat apathy and build a vision of life through those triggers by self-help.

What are the 'conflicts' these movies created? In a major sense, transforming villains into more relatable characters than superheroes who are by definition good guys. Which started with describing both types in more grey terms, trying to make them 'realistic', more substantial and far more complicated than they were intended to begin with, which is the point stretching has started. Looks fine, what's wrong with it, right?

When they started to play on races and genders, sexual orientations, I found it good, refreshing. Esp. living in the culture I live in, it was really good news. But then I hadn't realised the actual main reason this genre developed this way because this general development had already gone through the other main stream genres. And that this was one of the last standing forts to 'attack' to create sensational response to make money without actually making anything.

So what happened? The nature of the material, its natural fan base, the soical identity politics of the product have turned this genre into some kaiju that is feeding on the fake identity and gender wars, fake victimhoods, generated sensational fandom wars and that is what it runs on. Provoking fandomships about how the characters -which are created long time ago- have been portrayed. Which is the 'correct' or most loyal version? 'Why did they kill the strongest heterosexul white male? Why did they make this character black? Why did they make that one female, and the other one gay?' I don't have any problem with any of it. On the contrary, I am rooting for it; breaking any kind of norms. I am a Middle Eastern woman ffs.

But what's the real 'entertainment' provided by these movies? Action? Seeing comic book characters come to life? Or they just stopped being comic book movies some time ago and what they provide is a very expensive, high tech, 'family friendly' cinema version of the material found in youtube channels that plays with human condition -to the point of abuse- to trigger people to take 'sides' of some group or movement so they can create new fake problems and existences, conflicts and victimhoods and stretch this toxic material further and further to some set of political beliefs?

You will say, people do the same thing with every material available that's how people work. No. We have passed a certain tipping point. There is an obvious bait and click here. Herding. OK, I get it's a phase of the social media age. Of course this won't go on forever, but there is a need of balance and LOUD criticism, different products. Do you realise how ridiculous it is that a director like Scorsese gets backlash for criticising a genre out loud?

Yes, I have seen Joker on the big screen. Yes, it is very good. But why? Because it is the story of Joker the villain in the Batman story? No. Because we have a lot of Jokers that looks like cut out from paper compared to his amazing performance and an accumulation of movies that acts like a history to the character and the story. And it is the era of the villain. It's the 21st century, we agree with him, we are on board. 25 years ago, it wouldn't have meant anything. Is there anything original in it? No. Why is it so important? Because of the fanatic fandomship. What are they going to do with our Joker? We all went to see that.

Replace Joker with John Doe, remove the Batman connection, you would enjoy that movie the same if you enjoyed the story itself. And it would have meant something 20 years ago, 40 years ago, 60 years ago. Dig further back, we would find the story of the failed, sad loser clown in crisis in many different forms. It's a very old story. But the chances are high that today, you wouldn't see this movie on the big screen and most people wouldn't even hear about it, because it is not a comic movie blockbuster.

So Scoreses is right, but it is not just Hollywood which is dependent on very specific kind of blockbusters. It's the main stream culture, politics, social issues. It's not some part of the pop culture anymore. It's become the basic mythology. People often don't like to acknowledge that 'culture' is not a positive term and a produced culture can create stupid or intelligent masses. What is going on with this particular one looks far from intelligent.
 
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WaylanderToo

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the big issue is that Hollywood is (when all is said and done) a business - they exist to make money. If cookie cutter films make money then that is what they'll do, if smaller indy films dragged in the big profits they'd do that instead.
 

KGeo777

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The James Dean CGI thing is similar to the Joker. They have no reason to bring in a franchise character (James Dean is a brand name franchise character at this point) for the drama film. It's a marketing gimmick. It suggests somewhere in the executive arena, people in charge who lack any kind of normal connection with audiences or understanding what film is about. Audiences did not demand James Dean be resurrected, just as audiences did not demand superhero films to take over content. This was dictated entirely by the minority in charge of the current media monopoly. It has nothing to do with supply, demand, audience preference etc. You have people with no singing ability having a monopoly on all the megaphones in town-and they insist on sharing their lack of talent with everyone, not just the minority who may be deaf enough to appreciate what they do.
If they really were a business the Weinstein thing could not have happened.
They blacklisted actresses who did not do sexual favors. Beyond the obvious massive hypocrisy of Hollywood claiming to be feminist, that is is not sound business practice. It was confirmed by Peter Jackson that actresses he was considering for LOTR were off limits because the word got out in Hollywood that they were blacklisted.
There is no business like show business because no business could stay in operation if it had Hollywood business practices.
 

BAYLOR

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The James Dean CGI thing is similar to the Joker. They have no reason to bring in a franchise character (James Dean is a brand name franchise character at this point) for the drama film. It's a marketing gimmick. It suggests somewhere in the executive arena, people in charge who lack any kind of normal connection with audiences or understanding what film is about. Audiences did not demand James Dean be resurrected, just as audiences did not demand superhero films to take over content. This was dictated entirely by the minority in charge of the current media monopoly. It has nothing to do with supply, demand, audience preference etc. You have people with no singing ability having a monopoly on all the megaphones in town-and they insist on sharing their lack of talent with everyone, not just the minority who may be deaf enough to appreciate what they do.
If they really were a business the Weinstein thing could not have happened.
They blacklisted actresses who did not do sexual favors. Beyond the obvious massive hypocrisy of Hollywood claiming to be feminist, that is is not sound business practice. It was confirmed by Peter Jackson that actresses he was considering for LOTR were off limits because the word got out in Hollywood that they were blacklisted.
There is no business like show business because no business could stay in operation if it had Hollywood business practices.

To see the dead actors of yesteryear come alive again in todays movies and be alongside their contemporaries , I know it's not really them but only their image. given my complains about todays films , This something I actually ant see more of. When I saw Rogue Oneand how they brought back Peter Cushing as Moff Tarkin , That was truly extraordinary and It was a good thing to see.
 
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