Will Hollywood Survive? And Should It?

I’d much prefer to talk about positive things instead of dwelling on the negative, but sometimes we have to face hard truths. This year might go down in history as the beginning of the end of Hollywood. I don’t think it will recover, and the sad thing is that I don’t think it should recover either. What will happen when restrictions are taken off of movie theaters? I don’t think people will react by going back to their old habits. We’ve gotten used to staying away from large gatherings, and I believe people will continue to act warily rather than put themselves at risk. More than that, I don’t think we’ll have the resources to keep patronizing theaters, nor will we care to reward debauchery. Here are four reasons why I think the old way of doing things, when it comes to the movies, is over.

Facing the Music That Nostalgia Isn’t Enough

Bill and Ted Face the MusicWatching Bill & Ted Face the Music cemented in my mind the idea that Hollywood won’t survive much longer. Not because it was a terrible movie, but because it is emblematic of the shell that movies have become of themselves. The third Bill and Ted movie is fine, nothing great and nothing awful, which is the problem. It’s lukewarm, trying to please everybody by churning up nostalgia for the first two films to the point of pandering. Bill and Ted travel to the future to see what failures they are while their daughters do exactly what they did in the previous films by rounding up historical figures from the past, getting killed, and then meeting up for a big musical extravaganza at the end. It had a “been there, done that” feeling except for the parts where it went out of its way to turn the two main characters into losers. They had also been down on their luck in the first two films, but in a much more likable way. They were classic underdogs who needed to overcome big challenges to prove that they were much more than they appeared to be. This time around, their character arc is basically to learn not to think so alike and make way for their daughters to save the day.

It was supposed to be ironic for a couple of seemingly brainless surfer dudes to be the saviors of the world, so them being supplanted by gender-swapped carbon copies, in the form of their daughters, fails to bring anything substantial to the table. If anything, it undermines the biting wit of the first two films. Their daughters aren’t nearly as memorable and fun as Bill and Ted were in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, even though they give a good effort. That sums up most movies I see nowadays. Sequels and prequels to great films go through the motions to try to recreate the energy of their predecessors, but with much less success. Where is the creativity? Where is the fun? Nostalgia can only take us so far when nothing new is being built to be nostalgic for in the future.

Hollywood Has Been Out of Original Ideas for at Least a Decade

Marvel Studios LogoDoes anyone consider Disney remakes superior to the animated originals? How about the last few Star Wars entries? Even the profitable crop of YA novel adaptations fizzled out a few years ago. The Marvel Cinematic Universe breathed new life into the comic-book genre for a solid decade, but that, too, has come to an end. There’s no way to top the last two Avengers sequels, so all of the MCU movies that are coming soon won’t be much of a draw for me.

Movies’ best days are behind them. Special effects may have reached their pinnacle, but the ideas that fuel the movies themselves have not kept pace. I keep hearing rumors about reboots of Back to the Future, Gremlins, and even The Matrix. All we have is nostalgia for greatness in the past. There’s nothing to look forward to. I know on the horizon there’s a sequel to Wonder Woman, Top Gun, Ghostbusters, and Coming to America, as well as new adaptations of Dune and West Side Story. But those are all callbacks to older works that once resonated with the public, not fresh ideas. I’ll probably be accused of cherry-picking because I left out films that Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, Joel and Ethan Cohen, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson are putting out. But those feel like vestiges of a lost age. Sequels, remakes, and other movies based on old properties consistently top the list of highest-grossing movies every year. Originality isn’t usually as profitable as safety.

They Are Defending Degeneracy

Child actors have rarely escaped from Hollywood unscathed, but the degeneracy seems to have shamelessly shifted into high gear in recent years. For example, movie critics and filmmakers have been quick to defend a film like Cuties, even as audiences have rejected it. It didn’t get a theatrical release since it only appeared on Netflix, but it still counts as part of the Hollywood machine. If you haven’t heard of it, count yourself lucky. And that’s just one example. I intended to say a lot more on this topic, but I feel impressed to hold my tongue, so I will just say that I mourn that evil is being called good and good is being called evil all too often today in movies and elsewhere.

Movie Theaters Will Never Be the Same

Empty theaters can't maintain themselves.I feel bad for theater owners. They don’t make movies; they just get a cut of the ticket prices for showing them on the silver screen. Many of them have had to get creative to stay afloat, branching out into corporate presentations, birthday parties, opera showings, and other events to diversify their revenue streams. When I went to a theater a few weeks ago, I had a feeling that it probably won’t be around much longer. Gone were the bustling crowds, replaced by a vacuous feeling. My wife and I had to sit several seats away from everyone else, which created a lot of wasted space that doesn’t produce income. Theaters can’t be profitable when working at less than half capacity.

Plus, there is no way to go back and make up for lost time. Theaters have had to pay their usual upkeep bills with little money coming in. And as more people lose their jobs, they are having to tighten their belts, and movies are at the top of the list of frivolous expenses to do without. Even if everything eventually gets back to normal and big-budget movies are able to be released in theaters again, it won’t be the same. I expect that theaters will begin closing before too long, effectively ending the era of wide releases on 4,000+ screens. The day of the tentpole movie is over.

The End?

I take no pleasure in predicting the demise of something that has brought so much joy to me and countless others for many years. At least we have past greatness and a hope that better things await us in the future. Not better things in terms of movies from Hollywood. That old system is no longer sustainable, having exhausted its inspiration, value, and usefulness long ago. I’m talking about better things in some new form or model yet to be thought of. Change is usually a painful process, so I don’t expect Hollywood to fall apart without protest, but I do believe there’s a better way to let wholesome art and creativity flow and find expression. I’m optimistic about the future, even though dark times also lay ahead.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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About Robert Lockard, the Deja Reviewer

Robert Lockard has been a lover of writing since he was very young. He studied public relations in college, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2006. His skills and knowledge have helped him to become a sought-after copywriter in the business world. He has written blogs, articles, and Web content on subjects such as real estate, online marketing and inventory management. His talent for making even boring topics interesting to read about has come in handy. But what he really loves to write about is movies. His favorite movies include: Fiddler on the Roof, Superman: The Movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Back to the Future, Beauty and the Beast, The Fugitive, The Incredibles, and The Dark Knight. Check out his website: Deja Reviewer. Robert lives in Utah with his wife and four children. He loves running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.
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3 Responses to Will Hollywood Survive? And Should It?

  1. ishallakam says:

    I don’t think the pandemic will be the end of Hollywood, but I’m hoping that it will lead to the end of the blockbuster model. That’s the real problem with the industry.

    To address your specific points:
    – Nostalgia makes money. Remakes and reboots are virtually guaranteed to be profitable. The big Hollywood production companies have been relying on blockbusters to make so much money that they can fund all small budget movies off of the blockbuster profits.

    – Original ideas are still prevalent in Hollywood, but they’re far riskier. Look at movies like Birdman, Get Out, The Shape of Water, or Ex Machina. All of them were fantastic and highly praised, but their average budget was less than $20M. Production companies aren’t willing to spend big money making or promoting films that may not even make back their production budget. These movies are harder to find in theaters, but they do exist. Every one of the directors you mentioned, from Nolan to Tarantino, started by making small independent movies, until they gained the studio’s trust. There are literally dozens of quality movies with original stories produced every year, but it takes more effort to find them in theaters, as they aren’t promoted at the same level.

    – Degeneracy is so subjective that it’s hard to say whether the films themselves are promoting it. Hollywood is sexually tame compared to films that come out of Europe, but they’re also far more graphically violent. Which is worse depends completely on culture. While not related to the pandemic, the MeToo movement did a lot to expose the systemic issues on the production side, and I hope that the ground that has been gained in improving that situation continues to gain momentum.

    – While the current climate is really hard on movie theaters now, I don’t think they’ll ever go away. The big chains are most likely to suffer, but smaller theaters will still be around. If the blockbuster model collapses, then that would ultimately be good for theaters, as it would give them far more bargaining power when they negotiate with distributors. As it stands now, theaters only get about 5% of the ticket sales for blockbusters, with that percentage gradually increasing weeks after the release. If they can bump that up significantly, then the quality of the theater experience will improve and lure back more patrons. That said, it’s also just as likely that streaming services will start carrying movies at the theatrical release date, and they already have the bargaining power needed to push back against the studio demands. Basically, the balance of power in the industry is shifting, and will hopefully find a new equilibrium that allows for more competition, and therefore better experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You touched upon the most disturbing aspect of the Hollywood machine. Talented people will exist forever and need outlets to share their gifts with others. Things will change. They probably should have changed a long time ago. I am looking forward to see what comes next. Cave people sat around the fire telling each other stories, so that desire for drama, comedy, and even horror is deeply hardwired into our brains. I always enjoy reading your posts. See you next week.

    Liked by 1 person

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