Film - The Industry Vs The Art
In the eyes of many independent filmmakers, film is an art. However, if a filmmaker is lucky enough to be a part of a studio in Hollywood, or essentially is backed by many big names with big money, then film is an industry. Why? Because the studios, distribution companies and cinemas will only take films that conform to their idea of what a good film is. For example, the Marvel Films are big hits right now, because the formula for the genre has been set by the Russo brothers, Disney, Marvel and the entire cast and crew of the films.
You’ll find that other superhero movies, however deviant of the genre will not do as well. True, DC Marvel has its own backing, but if anyone tried to create a superhero movie that doesn’t conform to the Marvel Universe, DC or otherwise, will not do as well. Take Kickass for example. It has tried to move the superhero genre into dark comedy, but its backing isn’t as major, nor did its box office numbers do as well as, say for example, Avengers Endgame. Why? Because it did not conform to the formula. It tried to take superheroes in a different direction, and it didn’t work.
The Business Is Rich, But The Art Is Poor
In many cases, you’ll find that blockbusters are only blockbusters because of the way they’re advertised and hyped up, by the studios who create them. For example, Marvel films have grabbed our attention, for the last 10 years, because they were marketed, not only by Marvel Studios, but by Disney, and through Disney’s experiences in advertising and promotion, the films have the attention they wanted.
However, if you look at films like The Farewell (2019), you don’t hear much news about it. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to have heard about the film, unless you search for it specifically, or you’re looking into good independent films to watch.
So, why is there such a big difference between these blockbusters, and these independent films? It’s because the major studios, that is, Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures and Walt Disney Studios, have all dominated the market. They’ve monopolised the film industry, so that if you want to make a film, as big as theirs, you’d either have to work for them, or have at least the same amount of experience, and drive to promote your films.
That’s why, the entertainment section of the film industry is, essentially, rolling in money. Through the years, and thanks in part to the way these studios were founded, the films they make overshadow the small independent companies and productions that try to get their names out there. They outshine the artistic side of the film industry, because they know exactly how to create and market the “right” kind of films, so that the masses would want to watch them.
The Art Is Not Just In Entertainment
Of course, there are a few cases, where an independent and artistic film becomes a huge success. What I mean is, while their successes aren’t as popular or as numerous as a film by the major studios, their successes are much more relative. For example, the independent film, Amelie (2001) raked in a whopping $174 000 000, in box office profits, when it was still in theatres, while their budget was $10 000 000. That’s more than ten times their budget in profits. So, although films by the “Big 5”, as the major studios are called, are largely sought after, and have budgets that range in the billions, sometimes it isn’t about how big the budget is, but how well the film is received.
Not only that, it also depends on the social, economic and cultural environment of the time that determines how well a film is received. For example, the film 12 Years A Slave (2014) was so successful that it gained a wealth of awards such as an Oscar for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Performing Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay. It gained the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in Drama and it gained a BAFTA for Best Film.
One of the reasons why is not only because it had a largely African American cast, but because the world was starting to tune back into the social injustices surrounding ethnic minorities, it’s no wonder 12 Years A Slave was a huge hit in January 2014.
It’s Still About The Entertainment
While we might say that it is better to appreciate art films more than those that are simply popular, because of the big names behind them, let’s not forget that nowadays, art is mostly synonymous with social injustice and social issues. You’ll find an artistic film will mostly resonate with a certain type of audience, and become part of a niche, because it addresses an issue that many are willing to overlook, because “it doesn’t affect them”. That’s why, no matter how artistic your film is, if you wish to create one, chances are you’ll be stepping on a lot of toes, to make sure your voice is heard.
However, if you’re willing to conform to the formula, then creating a film that entertains will guarantee a popularity spot amongst audiences. It is the innocent, the funny and the standard plot that audiences will flock to. Making them uncomfortable with addressing social issues might not guarantee a profit. So, while film may be a platform for artists, it will always be a means of entertainment, and will always be popular for that purpose.