This article was originally published on Viking Social Agency on October 22, 2019

What is “Cinema”?

The dictionary definition of cinema is “the production of movies as an art or industry.” The entertainment industry is changing everyday. New innovations are made, new ways to consume are created, and popular genres rise and crash. It is no secret to reveal that superhero films, or films based on comic book characters and stories, are all the rage right now. Regardless of making tons of money at the box office, these films aren’t beloved by all.
While recent comments by famed filmmaker Martin Scorcesse have caused an uproar, he is not the first person to voice his displeasure.  Plenty of celebrities from Jason Statham to Jennifer Anniston have spoken out against Marvel movies in particular. Though they aren’t attacking the filmmakers attached to the films, they seem to be attacking how they have shaped modern cinema as a whole.

Martin Scorcesse recently revealed his opinion of superhero films, describing that he felt they were more like theme parks. He admits that they’re fun, but they’re not “cinema”. Scorsese had trouble finding a studio for his latest film “The Irishman” until he went to Netflix. He claimed that no major studio wanted the film due to it being a high budget original film. The esteemed filmmaker is a champion of the theatre experience so having to go to a streaming service to make his latest film must have been a little frustrating for him.

Similarly Jennifer Anniston has come out to say that the kinds of roles she would be up for are diminishing. She too had to turn to a streaming service to continue her career. It’s easy to paint a target on studios making too many Superhero films, but the truth is, studios aren’t interested in making the mid level budget films anymore. Just look at Disney’s dissolve of FOX2000 for proof of that. Studios want big budget films, event cinema every week so they can get big returns. (Or in the case of Gemini Man, big losses). IP driven, big budget, content has been the name of the game for the studios since the great recession. The kind of films that Scorsesse and Anniston would be attracted to, aren’t the kind of films studios see as sure things.

On the other side of that coin, it’s unfair for these celebrities to go after these films, since hundreds of people put in hundreds of hours of work in them. Films like these can offer a sense of job security to actors and crewman, they can lift up new talent that wouldn’t have found a way into the industry otherwise. Jason Statham has lambasted the actors of these films for phoning it in, but one need not look any further than Robert Downey Jr. to see otherwise. His turn as Iron Man has become just as iconic as Christopher Reeve’s Superman or Sean Connery’s James Bond. Bradley Cooper has put more heart and soul into a talking Racoon than was needed. All films are art, all art is hard work.

No one can debate how great Martin Scorcesse is. Filmmakers like him have created films that define generations. To hear something like this come from him, or Francis Ford Copolla, or any one like them, can strike a blow to fans of superhero films and the kinds of films that Scorcesse would consider “cinema”. It begins to sound more and more like these celebrities are lamenting the change in the times, and taking it out on what they think is the problem. superhero films, gangster movies, dramas, science fiction films, comedies, these are all cinema, they are all art. Truthfully, it sounds more likely that they are frustrated that their own films or their own careers aren’t doing as well as they would have in the past. It’s unfortunate when art doesn’t get the credit it is due, but discrediting someone else’s art is no way to build up your own. If the problem with another person’s art is that it is stealing the attention of your own art then that sounds like a personal problem.

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