David Denby’s provocative essay “Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?” explores current movie culture and the future of the film industry.
Denby takes a comprehensive look at how the production of big-budget movies is keeping “art-house” films with low or midrange budget from being made. His essay approaches the film industry from a sociological lens and looks at how many movie studio giants prime children to appreciate and desire the aesthetics and narratives of big-budget films.
In brief, the studios are not merely servicing the tastes of the young audience; they are also continuously creating the audience to whom they want to sell. (They have tied their fortunes to the birth rate.) Which raises an inevitable question: will these constantly created new audiences, arising from infancy with all their faculties intact but their expectations already defined—these potential moviegoers—will they ever develop a taste for narrative, for character, for suspense, for acting, for irony, for wit, for drama? Isn’t it possible that they will be so hooked on sensation that anything without extreme action and fantasy will just seem lifeless and dead to them?
Whether the aesthetic nature of films are declining or evolving is a familiar debate. In fact, The New Yorker put out a follow up article to David’s essay titled “The Movies Aren’t Dying (They’re Not Even Sick),” which is also a recommended read.
Technology is constantly changing the course of film. During the reign of silent films, many claimed that “talkies” would be the death of movies.
Technology is going to continue to disrupt the film industry, whether that disruption is for the best will be up to the audience to decide.