Opinion: Disney is Killing Cinema

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"Warner Theater West Chester, PA 1941" by klews39 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Seth Root/The Broadside

Cinema has changed a lot from when I was a young kid. Cinema has gone from VHS to DVD to now, Video on Demand. Some of these new innovations are good. Now we can watch any type of film we want, anytime, anywhere. 

However, there are some developments that are occurring in the cinema that are ruining it. These developments, though on the surface, seem good and profitable are killing the things that made the cinema so great. Disney is in large part to blame for this. 

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How is Disney to blame for killing the cinema? Before answering that question, let me real quickly share my perspective on what cinema is.  To me, the cinema is about the human condition and what it means to be human. The cinema does this by creating original stories in which the characters reveal the complexity of human beings. It shows how people hate each other, how people love each other and shows why people do what they do. It’s what makes the cinema so rich and so beautiful. It’s why films directed by Zack Snyder, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Whit Stillman and Christopher Nolan are some of the my favorites. They make movies that are new and interesting while also showing depth in their films. 

In today’s world, however, it is not really about that. Instead, studios such as Warner Brothers and Disney are all about making reboots, spinoffs and franchise films. In fact Ben Fitz reported in his tell-all-book about the movie industry called “The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies” that Hollywood studios produced 37 films that were either big budget sequels, reboots, spinoffs or adaptions in 2016.  These type of films are certainly profitable for the movie industry, but, they come at a huge cost — killing cinema as we know it. 

Now, franchise films are the only things that you can see on the big screen. There is absolutely no variety when you go to the theater. If you want to watch something other than some mediocre Disney or Marvel movie, you have to go to Amazon or Netflix to watch it. To me this is just one thing that is killing cinema because some films are just made for the big screen likeThe Irishman” but thanks to the economics of the movie industry and big studios like Disney, we are stuck with the system we have now. 

That isn’t the only thing though that is killing the cinema. Originality in film making is also suffering thanks to the big movie studios. 

As I mentioned, the cinema is about creating original and compelling stories about what it means to be human. Those types of stories like “The Social Network,” “Trouble with the Curve” and “Hell or High Water” would be a huge risk for studios today  and would probably would not be made because there is no way that you would get a sequel off of those films and make huge profits off of them.  So, the studios like Disney will instead put out films like “Iron Man 35” because that’s the way to make a huge profit, through toys and other tie-ins to the movie. 

So how do we save the cinema? Do we call for the break up of the big conglomerates like Warner Brothers and Disney as some have suggested? I am certainly not in favor of it. Rather, I think supporting local theaters like the Tin Pan Theater which shows unique films is one way to save cinema. Maybe if more people do that, people that work in these industry will rethink their approach. 

Another way to save cinema is to do exactly what Martin Scorsese is doing: Preserving and teaching cinema to the next generation. By doing this, we can make a new generation that is in love, as I am, with movies. To do that, people should go and check out the Criterion Collection where you will find an amazing array of movies that range from Japanese samurai films to French New Wave films like “The 400 Blows”. People should also check out the Barber Library on Central Oregon Community College’s campus where there is a collection of Kanopy films. Once you watch those, share them with your friends and maybe we will see a revitalization of cinema once again. 

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