Is the cinema in trouble as the line between television, movies and streaming continues to blur?
You saw that we have lamented this issue before, so I’ll dive into the details for a moment. The surge in streaming related to the coronavirus changed Hollywood over the past year. It seemed like we’d jumped decades in months, and big studios were choosing to release releases both online and in theaters for the first time.
This was a leap forward wherever cinema is going. Additionally, studios opening divisions to mine intellectual property, expanding tentpole films, and relatively avoiding other titles show that things may never be the way we knew them to be.
Films cost money, and the places with all that money prefer profits to art. Where there used to be an interface between trade and art, there is now only trade. And it’s not just film studios; There are people like AT&T and Apple, traditional media companies who buy and sell their own programs and platforms.
All of this has contributed to the most interesting series of years in Hollywood history. Are we at the end of the movie? Is the cinema dying? Martin Scorsese seems very concerned and I have to admit I am on his side.
Check out this video from Thomas flightand let’s talk after the jump.
Cinema is changing, but why does Martin Scorsese fear it will die?
Let’s get this straight. This is not a one-off discussion about going to the cinema. It’s about what happens to the art we love and where it could lead in the future. While tentpole action films are hard to make and deserve a lot of credit, I think we’ve already seen what they can add to the art form.
The big question we all ask ourselves as we watch more and more films is, “What do they add to the art form?”
Many of the current problems stem from the studios’ priorities. We talked about this in our article on the beauty of cinema – we constantly get a polished image that appears to be factory molded. There is no studio that questions this common aesthetic. You have to dig into indie films to really find people who do things differently. But even these are only a few.
Who is challenging the cinema now? And if it’s nobody, are we going to advance the art form?
Sure, innovation naturally slows down once the novelty wears off, but the voices we have in the future seem to drown out. We look at older directors like Scorsese and wonder who is picking up the coat to bring cinema into a new form or art.
Cinema is a kind of experience. It leaves your house to see other people. What you see is not based on intellectual property or corporate mandates, but is an original story that pays special attention to language, tradition and form.
Today is a special experience.
Are we at the beginning of the end or just a pause in the process?
The rise in streaming and movie accessibility is an amazing tradeoff for the decline in going to the theater to see the movies. I can log into Criterion or a similar app and find movies that I never had access to when I was young. There are many lost gems that I can use to share my knowledge of the medium and test what I can do inside and outside the form.
This is great, but at the expense of these works of art that are surrounded by other people. And I also worry that new artists aren’t seeing their work glow green from those big companies or studios. Sure, anyone can shoot something on their iPhone, but if no one sees your work, can you really be a filmmaker? Do you even go to the cinema?
The main problem I have with Hollywood today is that everyone is looking for the same thing. Something easily marketable comes with a “tested” audience, which means it was developed from a book, remake, or has an inherent value that is outside of the idea. Hollywood also hates the bending of genres. While we might think this will change the shape and keep the ideas updated, they see this as a marketing risk that could affect the bottom line.
That makes it increasingly difficult for people who are interested in the cinema and the cinema experience to work in Hollywood today.
Where is that for us?
We have no idea what the next decade will bring in Hollywood, but I hope the surge in streaming actually lends itself to sustaining cinema. Not only does that mean reissuing old classics, but it also means these big corporations embrace the art and make a few films a year that promote the art form. There is always the possibility that this will be a hit and lead them on new paths.
Even if it doesn’t, audiences will get bored with these bubble studios. It’s fun to see big action on the big screen, but how can we move people and create a deeper understanding of cinema as art? The only option is to continue to challenge the medium and raise new voices so that the cinema does not leave this level as an icon of bygone times and move on to the next.
Let me know what you think in the comments.