On Greed and The Glut of Superhero Movies

Stellan Skarsgard, in a reader interview with The Guardian:

What is your take on the criticism of superhero movies by directors such as Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott? HoggyBear

I’ve got nothing against superhero movies. I’ve been in a couple and they definitely have a place. The problem is that the system that allows eight people to own half of the wealth in the world enhances the power of the market forces, so small and independent cinemas rarely exist any more outside a few big cities. There’s no distribution channels for all the mid-budget films that have the best actors, the best writing, because they can’t throw up $3m for a marketing campaign. When cinemas let them in, they do so for one week and if it doesn’t pay off in a week, they’re gone.

Remember that The Godfather first opened in 100 cinemas in the United States – big films now open in 4,000. They had small ads in the New York Times, but it grew and grew because it was such a good film. The people’s opinion has no chance any more. And that is sad.

I think that we should have Marvel films and more rollercoaster films. We should have other films, too. And that’s the sad thing: when raw market forces come in, studios start being run by companies that don’t care if they’re dealing in films or toothpaste so long as they get their 10% [return]. When AT&T took over Time Warner, it immediately told HBO to become lighter and more commercial. They were always making money. But not enough for an investor.

@kenlowery comments:

“They were always making money, but not enough for an investor” is the skeleton key for the hollowing out of so much cultural landscape, not the internet or millennials or w/e. Retail stores, newspapers, radio, all of it - not profitable quickly enough for short-term gamblers

I first saw it in radio when the restrictions dropped and Clear Channel gobbled up every major FM station in town. Channels and formats that’d been stable for 30+ years would flip formats (and fire people by the dozens) three times in five years.

Everyone has their Cassandra hobbyhorses and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is one of mine

Calling them “short-term gamblers” is a misnomer tbh. Gamblers assume risk, and investors have completely offloaded the risk onto everyone else.