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Quotes / The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood

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When I was young, box office reports were confined to industry journals like The Hollywood Reporter. Now, I'm afraid that they've become...everything. Box office is the undercurrent in almost all discussions of cinema, and frequently it’s more than just an undercurrent. The brutal judgmentalism that has made opening-weekend grosses into a bloodthirsty spectator sport seems to have encouraged an even more brutal approach to film reviewing. I’m talking about market research firms like Cinemascore, which started in the late '70s, and online “aggregators” like Rotten Tomatoes, which have absolutely nothing to do with real film criticism. They rate a picture the way you'd rate a horse at the racetrack, a restaurant in a Zagat's guide, or a household appliance in Consumer Reports. They have everything to do with the movie business and absolutely nothing to do with either the creation or the intelligent viewing of film. The filmmaker is reduced to a content manufacturer and the viewer to an unadventurous consumer.
Martin Scorsese, in an October 10, 2017 article, for The Hollywood Reporter.

"It changed for the good and the bad. When you bring new things to a society, it's like the balance of the force, you can either use it for good or you can use it for evil. What happens when there is something new is people have a tendency to overdo it, they abuse it. There are two things that got abused with Star Wars and it's still being abused. When Star Wars came out, everyone said it's a silly movie, just a bunch of space battles and stuff...There's more to it than that but everyone said it's just a bunch of spaceships...that part of the science fantasy got terribly abused. So everyone went out and made spaceship movies and they were all horrible and lost tons of money. The other part is the technology...especially when it came down later to digital technology, where you can really do anything. Which people just abused, which they did with colour, they did with sound. Whenever someone brings a new tool, everyone just abuses it and you forget the fact there's actually a story. The other thing that got abused...the studios said "Wow we can make a lot of money, this is a license to kill" and the only way you can do that is not take chances. Do something that's proven. You have to remember that Star Wars came from nowhere, American Graffiti came from nowhere. There was nothing like it. Now if you do anything that's not a sequel or a TV series or looks like one, they won't do it. That's the downside of Star Wars and it really shows the enormous lack of imagination and creativity on the part of the industry."
George Lucas, Interview with Charlie Rose.

"Will Smith is living out the common conundrum of almost every once-and-future movie star. Audiences don’t show up for star vehicles [anymore], but they still show up for franchises, often the very kind of franchises that lead to accusations of selling out or cashing in... ...And this October, Gemini Man, which gives you two Will Smiths for the price of one, will likely fall well short of a gritty Joaquin Phoenix crime drama purely because Phoenix is playing The Joker."

"It [Gemini Man] looks great, has a killer hook and a critically-acclaimed (and twice Oscar-winning) director. However, it is a giant question mark because it’s not an IP adaptation. In short, Will Smith, Brad Pitt and the like didn’t stop becoming movie stars. Audiences just care more about popular characters and popular IP than popular actors and popular filmmakers. Unless you’re Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Chris Nolan (or Jordan Peele), but you get the idea."

"The reality of our current situation is that the five families don’t want to make anything that can’t make them a billion dollars. None of them want to be in the medium-priced challenging content business. And that cleaves off exactly the kind of movies I make ... What the streamers are doing is providing a platform for the kind of cinema that actually reflects our culture and wrestles with big ideas: where things are, what people are anxious and unsure about. Those are the kinds of movies that would have been dead on arrival five years ago."