18 December, 2021

Movies Are Worse Now Because Their Corporate Funders Are Risk-Averse


New Hollywood represented a changing of the guard, which brought ambitious directors and studio heads into a fragile alliance with big money for a short period — before big money won out. The fact that this period coincided with massive social upheaval and a shattered cinematic monoculture after World War II galvanized a golden age of American film.

But now that they’d been let inside, the big conglomerates realized how inefficient Hollywood was. While people like David Begelman were good for the motion picture divisions of studios, they presented a conflict for corporate investment. Over time, investors have developed more efficient means of judging what will be a hit, which diminished their reliance on studio heads like Begelman.

The entrenchment of multinational conglomerate control of film does not necessarily mark a divergence from the incentive structures of the studio systems — studios have always existed to make money. The real inflection point was when the studios’ funding and distribution came under the total control of investment capital, which was then able to exercise complete authority over what and how movies were made.