James Gunn Explains Why Cinema Is Dying

The state of cinema has been something of a hot topic for movie fans of just about every kind for [...]

The state of cinema has been something of a hot topic for movie fans of just about every kind for a while. Last year, Martin Scorsese sparked a lot of debate over the nature of cinema when he claimed that Marvel films don't fit into the "cinema" category but even before that filmmaker David Lynch has himself voiced the opinion that cinema is dying and arthouses are dead, noting the rise of more cinematic offerings on cable television. Now, The Suicide Squad director James Gunn is weighing in with an explanation as to why thinks Lynch may be right -- to an extent -- about cinema dying.

During a recent installment of the filmmaker's popular Instagram question and answer sessions, a fan asked Gunn if he thought Lynch was right when he said that cinema is dying, and arthouses are dead. Gunn explained that he thinks that certain types of films are going to have challenges, noting that while people do come out to see specific genres of films, not all of those are "cinema".

"Sort of," Gunn said. "I think the mid-level commercial film and the independent films are going to have a difficult time being seen in theaters. People go to see horror films and spectacle films and maybe some comedies in theaters. All three of those things can be 'cinema' but it's limited."

While the idea of what encompasses the idea of cinema is one that is to an extent up for debate, what isn't is that the movie landscape has certainly changed. Major blockbusters have dominated the box office as have major studios. Seven of the top ten films of 2019 came from Disney and, of those three were major tentpoles, two from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and one from Star Wars. But it isn't just the state of cinema that Gunn had thoughts on when it comes to what actually makes it to theaters. Gunn was also asked if there a process in filmmaking that he feels need changing and for Gunn, that comes down what studios green light.

"Many," Gunn said in terms of processes he feels need changing. "The biggest one is I wish studios wouldn't green light films unless they had a script that they were happy with. The quality of films would instantly rise 60 percent. But studios green light movies off concepts, IP, and available release dates."

That rise in quality of films could arguably see more things become "cinema", but the idea that a change in process or even a slowing down of things could only make films better is one that Gunn is not alone in having. Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson noted earlier this year that the coronavirus pandemic causing release dates pushed back and production halted would have a positive impact on films.

"The pushing of all these big tentpole release dates will increase their overall quality -- more time for script and production design and development," Derrickson wrote. "Blade Runner looks so amazing because Ridley Scott and his team took a year during the 80-81 actors and WGA strikes to perfect the visuals."

What do you think about Gunn's thoughts on cinema? Let us know your take in the comments below.

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