The Problem With Hollywood Today

I don’t like talking about "The Good Old Days." Things change, and in the cinematic art–so heavily dependent on technology and money–they change a lot. In some ways, things are always improving. In others, they’re inevitably getting worse.

But consider these films:

  • The Crowd
  • Citizen Kane
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Midnight Cowboy
  • The Last Picture Show
  • Nashville
  • Taxi Driver
  • Annie Hall
  • Raging Bull
  • Brazil
  • Do the Right Thing
  • Goodfellas
  • Groundhog Day
  • Schindler’s List
  • Fight Club
  • LA Confidential

What do these have in common–aside from being really good? All of them were in some way or another cutting edge. In either content or technique (or both), each one pushed the boundaries of what was expected in an American commercial feature. None of them was based on a previous movie, a TV show, a major best-selling novel, or even a superhero comic book series. None had real franchise potential (although 2001 eventually generated a sequel).

And yet, every one of these films was financed and released by a major Hollywood studio. They were produced, at least in some degree, inside the system. And most of them made a profit for their investors.

That would be unthinkable today. The major studios simply aren’t interested in anything other than pre-sold, effects-heavy, extremely predictable, big-budget blockbusters. Today, films like the ones on my list  have to be financed and released outside of Hollywood. And the pool of money for doing that shrinks every year.

We’ve reached a point where Spike Lee–yes, Spike Lee–is trying to finance of film via KickStarter.

The studio heads who greenlit the films listed above were not patrons of the arts. They were businessmen. Their first priority was the bottom line. And yet they understood that financing truly creative work would, in the long run, help that bottom line. They also understood the value of making movies with reasonable budgets.

Today’s moguls don’t seem to understand that. And there lies the loss of art in Hollywood.

One thought on “The Problem With Hollywood Today

  1. Spike Lee resorting to Kickstarter? That says it all…
    Enjoyed reading this analysis, Bro.

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