It seems that Jodie Foster isn’t a fan of superhero movies.
And she’s not shy about it, either.
During an interview with the Radio Times, the 55-year-old director revealed that she has a few complaints about the direction Hollywood is heading… and she isn’t fussed on how the big studios are approaching filmmaking.
“Going to the movies has become like a theme park,” she said. “Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking – you get the best return right now but you wreck the Earth.”
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“It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world. I don’t want to make $200 million movies about superheroes.”
And well… she kinda has a point.
I’ll admit it right now – I’m happy to queue up for every big superhero movie and most big screen blockbusters. I’ll happily chew popcorn while whiling away a couple of hours with a movie that’s all about big, bold fun.
But cinema could do with taking a different approach now and then.
I mean, let’s face it – we’ve seen the superhero genre in particular come into criticism quite a lot in recent years. Some have even warned that the time of the comic book movie is about to come to an end. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying that superhero movies make up a huge share of the box office these days.
And the studios could do with mixing things up a little.
We all know that studios aim to make money. It’s no secret. And the best way of doing that is to tap into current trends – riding the superhero bandwagon being particularly lucrative these days. And while Jodie Foster seems to advocate a more thoughtful approach to filmmaking, it might be a marriage of the two directions which moves cinema forward.
And that seems to be what director James Gunn has suggested in response.
“I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can’t be thought-provoking. It’s often true but not always. Her belief system is pretty common and isn’t totally without basis,” he explained. “I say not without basis because most studio franchise films are somewhat soulless – and that is a real danger to the future of movies. But there are also quite a few exceptions.”
Of course, many would argue that his recent film Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is one of those exceptions – a thoughtful blockbuster which uses the big screen to relay big ideas in a more accessible way.
“For cinema to survive I believe spectacle films NEED to have a vision and heart they traditionally haven’t,” he added. “And some of us are doing our best to move in that direction. Creating spectacle films that are innovative, humane, and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.”
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“But, to be fair, at least from Foster’s quotes, she seems to see filmmaking as something that’s primarily about her own personal growth. For me, that may be part of why I do this, but spending many millions of dollars on a film has to be about more than that – it’s communication – so my experience is merely one spoke on that wheel. But I respect Foster and her talent and what she’s done for films and I appreciate her different way of looking at Hollywood’s landscape.”
Of course, I can’t help thinking there isn’t really a right answer.
It would be wonderful to see more thought-provoking movies hitting the big screen, and the big studios do need to start taking more risks if the blockbuster isn’t going to stagnate. But at the same time, it’s great to while away a few hours with a silly, action-packed, over-the-top blockbuster.
But perhaps we need to even out the balance, just a bit.