While there is always someone arguing that movies were better in the old days, the drop in quality over the past decade has been noticeable. While the exceptional films are still quite compelling, for the most part movies focus less on storytelling, cinematography, and acting. The emphasis these days seems to be more on effects, such as CGI, and creating a memorable moment rather than telling a good story.
It’s becoming more common to see A-list actors associated with big-budget films that do not have the same level of quality today as they would have 10 to 20 years ago. So, why is this happening, and will the trend change in the foreseeable future?
Lack of Storytelling
There’s an old saying in the movie industry that from the start of making a film 1000 things can go wrong before it reaches the theater. But if the script is not good, then no amount of effort can save the film.
When looking back at movies starring Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Nicol Kidman, and even Jim Carrey, you can see quality storytelling even if the films were not entirely successful. A big part of why good storytelling is lacking is that the executive producers hired by production companies lack the experience and understanding to recognize good screenplays.
Today’s executive producers are mostly trainees at major production and distribution companies or new to the business and have no idea what makes a good movie. The result is, to paraphrase Shakespeare, a movie with plenty of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Many so called “executive producers” at major film production or any other filmmaking agencies are hanging out on film related websites where they charge aspiring filmmakers and script writers money ( $300 -$350 per script) to read the script and promise a possible production of their stories. They ask how much is the budget if one says $100K, they would say we accept movies over one million dollar! If your budget is one million dollar, they would say we accept movies over $5 million dollars. It is clear that these kinds of people are trying to say that they are unable to finance the film and make it happen. They have no plan of moving forward with your script. 99.9% of them have one intention only to empty your pocket and take your hard working money. Sending your films and scripts to film festivals is more difficult than winning a lottery ticket. How would you know the list of winners and finalists which they send out via their newsletters is real people? The list of winners could be some made up names with an artificial intelligence made images of men and women!
Emphasis on Instant Success
The “sound and fury” in many of today’s features are rooted in the CGI effects, frantic pacing, and emphasis on shock value rather than good storytelling. The result is that A-list actors are now focused more on appearance and promotion rather than delivering a solid performance. Of course, it doesn’t help that the scripts themselves are simply not that good.
With attention spans shortening, films today make a larger percentage of their returns on the opening weekend compared to a decade ago. The result is movies that do not last as long in the theater. While they get a boost when released for digital downloads, that quickly fades as well.
Will Quality Movies Return?
The answer is yes, but only when the right changes are made. Currently the power is within the hands of major film distributors and productions and they feed the audience with the same stories and make them trend in social media. It is all politics and playing power game. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a problem for indie filmmakers as the majority of cities in the UK and other European countries along with North America are in lockdown and productions are going through difficulties and restrictions. 99.9% of indie film productions lack the possibilities of producing films and TV pilots in contrast with the Big six ( Paramount, Fox20th century, Columbia, NBC Universal, Warner Bros, Walt Disney ( Disney Plus) who have development facilities during the lockdown and have not stopped producing films and TV shows.
The majority of A-list actors who hold out for quality scripts, production companies that emphasize putting out a good product rather than something trendy, and audiences who find quality films and give them life beyond the opening weekend.
It may seem like dark times for movie audiences today as the same story is repeatedly told in films with poorer scripts starring actors who clearly do not care. But times change and movies will rise in quality again once the environment becomes conducive to exceptional filmmaking. When seemingly ordinary films are given that extra effort with good scripts, better funding and finance possibilities, enthused actors, and production values that do not stop at too much CGI effects at too expensive productions of course they blame it on people not going to the movie theaters due to Corona but the problem is the bad story that is trying to be unique ( example: Tenet: Chris Nolan $200 million budget/ Return $300 million only), the days of quality films with good story will return, and it will be welcomed.