Why Have Westerns In Cinema and TV Fallen out of Favor With Movie Audiences ?

BAYLOR

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For along a very long time, they were popular staple in Cinema from the silent era till about the the mid 70's and then with (some exceptions) audiences stopped seeing them. On television Western tv shows dominated the airwaves from the 50's to about the late 60's and similarly faded in popularity. Why do think that this happened ? And will Westerns ever be popular again?
 

Vladd67

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Not just on the screen, try finding a western in a book shop these days.
 

Vince W

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I think they've fallen out of favour because people aren't seeing the old west as an interesting theme any more. I love a good western, but modern ones tend focus on extreme violence and depravity rather than building a story and creating characters. There has always been violence in westerns, but the violence was used to frame the story not the other way around.
 

Tulius Hostilius

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In the cinema the Western Spaghetti made some revival but the Westerns were going down by that time (1970’s)

I think that the audiences always liked Frontier themes. Themes that mark the end of the Civilization (or one) and the beginning of the unknown (or other). I only thing that today other frontier themes seem to be in fashion, like the War on Terrorism, that is a classic Western/Eastern frontier.

Besides the world begun to see the American Indians as human beings and not has marks to shoot and, other reason could be the generic tendency to forget historical themes and concentrate in today’s themes or alt-history.
 

JG Martin

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The 2007 version The 3:10 to Yuma was fantastic and while it was violent it had a great story. True Grit (2010) was amazing and should have won Oscars. I think therein lies the answer to your question. Critics don't like Westerns and they aren't popular enough in the mainstream, so the studios don't make them. The Lone Ranger and Cowboys and Aliens didn't help.

If you want a good "western" watch Hell on Wheels on AMC. Good action, but a good story too.
 

Michael Colton

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My initial thought is that the stereotypes of the genre hurt it quite a bit. People assume it will be about bank robberies, killing Native Americans, or stand offs. It's all been done before -- the setting doesn't seem to provide much. If you want frontiers you go to space, near futures, etc.

Perhaps more importantly, I just don't think the mythological Old West holds much weight or fascination anymore. Even when I lived in rural Texas, people walking down the street in a cowboy hat were snickered at unless it was an elderly gentleman. I think it largely comes down to the myth being dead. Nobody wants to be John Wayne any longer, the idea of a lone cowboy sitting at a campfire simply isn't that appealing.

Perhaps I could be wrong, but that is the general feel I get when I hear people react to someone else suggest watching a Western.
 

BAYLOR

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The last Western film that I liked in the theater was Clint Eastwood's film The Unforgiven . It' portrayal of the the wld was down and dirty and probable very close to the reality of that era. The hero of the film Eddie Money , really not a nice man.
 

soulsinging

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The 2007 version The 3:10 to Yuma was fantastic and while it was violent it had a great story. True Grit (2010) was amazing and should have won Oscars. I think therein lies the answer to your question. Critics don't like Westerns and they aren't popular enough in the mainstream, so the studios don't make them.

I actually think the opposite. True Grit did very well with critics and got a lot of Oscar nominations. Same for Unforgiven. 3:10 to Yuma was well received, though I don't think it made much money. The last really successful western I can think of is Tombstone. There's also Deadwood, a series that got strong reviews but never really found an audience. So I really think it's more about audiences not caring for westerns anymore than it is critics being hard on them. I think it's just the cliche'd perception of the genre, something SFF compensates for with big CGI effects. Can't really do that in a western. But I think in the end, people hear western and think of horribly racist treatment of Native Americans, hyper-macho violence that's lost favor to our stylized violence, period costumes scarcely different from boring Victorian dramas, and few women that tend to be cardboard cut outs existing only to justify the violence of the lead.
 

BAYLOR

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They're coming out with a Reboot of the Magnificent Seven . If this one does well , it might revive the genre. :)


Though not strictly a western Also HBO is doing a Westworld tv series .:)
 

Vince W

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I don't think Mangificent Seven will good enough so we'll see westerns revived in any significant way. We'll get film here or there, but nothing running close to the popularity they used to have.
 

Rodders

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Westworld looks very good. I'm quite excited about that one.
 

Frost Giant

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The 2007 version The 3:10 to Yuma was fantastic and while it was violent it had a great story.
Agreed, 3:10 was a great adaptation, very well made. The fact that it expanded beyond the original 1957 film was a plus in my opinion.
 

JoanDrake

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I'm told that the Western always was a Fantasy, that the "Old West" was really a far more humdrum and very much less well-armed and lawless place than we are led to believe. Bandits were about as common then as now and Native Americans were an underclass about as prone to wars as modern blacks are actually "prone" to rioting, (which is to say it was a slander against them).
 

BAYLOR

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It's too bad Cowboys and Aliens flopped at the box office .
 

Overread

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I think that westerns are rather like WWII films or musicals. Things come and go as themes; consider now how few musicals there are in the market. Then consider how few WWII films there are compared to in the past.

Of course some themes last longer, WWII is a prime example, not as strong as it once was but still present as a good general background (and in the PC game world its actually still in its peek period).

Currently we are in a big comic-book film era with a lot of comics going to film and considering that market its likely to last a long while; but given time it will go the way of the Westerns and then who knows. Film is very young so it could come around to something else.

Many felt that Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter could spark a big start to a film fantasy era but that never really came around. Sometimes a BIG film or name can result in a spark or it can rise so much that it dominates and thus swamps everything else out.


I do miss the good old westerns; heck I think that the Spaghetti westerns are required watching in the art of film. They are films that you must WATCH not films that can be a background noise and still be entertaining.
 

J Riff

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Yes, I had hopes for Jonah Hex, but they turned it into superhero mush, like all the comix stuff...
 

Overread

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It's too bad Cowboys and Aliens flopped at the box office .

Yeah its shame as to my eye its a very solid film - heck even Harrison Ford does really well in it (he fits in this film as opposed to his attempts to rebook Han and Indy where he's just too old to really give those roles justice in the same way he once did). Sadly I think the film was just a touch too niche to work - it would have worked stronger with the same cast done as a long running TV series. Sadly I doubt it would have gotten the budget to survive that long.
 

J Riff

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How can anything called Cowboys n Aliens be anything other than a sendup? You need titles like Bad Day at Black Rock, or Lanigan Rides Alone to be taken seriously.
 

clovis-man

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How can anything called Cowboys n Aliens be anything other than a sendup? You need titles like Bad Day at Black Rock, or Lanigan Rides Alone to be taken seriously.

Bad Day at Black Rock wasn't exactly a western. Great movie, though. Some good titles might be Destry Rides Again or The Big Trail. But they would have to be remakes. :whistle:
 

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