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Cinema Dying?

I may be wrong. I may actually be right. But atleast this is a start of a conversation that is important.

The studio culture, franchise, extended universes may be harming the way we look at cinema. The experience of it. The truth of it. The art of it.

Be it the way Leia Skywalker’s character shows up in the last instalment of the Star Wars Franchise even when the actor who played it, Carrie Fisher was dead, I believe, was a malpractice towards the audiences.

Or be it superheroes being spoofy, cracking jokes in the name of pop culture but in reality are just empty.

Or the numerous spin-offs or extended universe phases (Marvel and DC Comics) trying hard to keep something good relevant but only ending up making a joke out of it and depending on a few cameos and spoofs to just get the box office earnings for the studio in check.

Or the very recent Joss Whedon’s Director’s Cut being reshot and released after Justice League tanked. It’s so painfully unjust. Not only to the creatives, but to the cinema itself. The experience of theatre. To Direction.

Ok, so what now?

I do feel bad for Scorsese, or Kubrick, Spielberg, Tarantino, Nolan, Hitchcock, Bay, Jackson, Gerwig, Fincher, Inarritu, Baumbach and so many more, who’re overshadowed and devoid of their hard work against the studio extended universe system and culture.

A lot of the current problems go back to what studios prioritize making. There's no studio challenging the common aesthetics. You have to dig into indie movies to really find people doing things differently. But even those are few and far between.

Movies are marketed for its glamorous, one liner, special appearance, reboot, pop culture ref, pleasing the actor ego or any recent controversy in their lives (Aquaman with JD and Amber Heard’s Divorce Drama) to possibly anything they can promise and when we see the piece we feel cheated. Not Entertained.

And trust me, this was already happening before the Pandemic.

The answer or solution to it is not so simple. With streaming services and digital age becoming, genuinely, an inseparable part of our lives.

But look at what happened with Quibi.

Maybe cinema should not be confused with the term “Content”, I feel.

I think the following quote can sum this up best.

“I don't see them,” he said, of the superhero movies that have dominated the box office in the past decade. “I tried, you know? But that's not cinema.”

Recently quoted by Martin Scorsese. (A personal favourite along side Inarritu.)

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(There are so many more examples I couldn’t list, that come to mind. Do share your thoughts too.)

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- Aayush Agrawal

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