Steven Spielberg is probably the most famous filmmaker of all time—and for good reason. His consistency of talent is unmatched, and he has the filmography to prove it. It’s an oeuvre filled with iconic classics, from Jaws to Schindler’s List to new-classic Lincoln. So when Spielberg opines on Hollywood and the film industry, people take note, and take note they did when Spielberg and his pal George Lucas—another industry titan—predicted an impending implosion in Hollywood that would follow a string of very expensive bombs. Spielberg’s point was that studios are now pouring so much of their resources into giant blockbusters (specifically superhero movies) that when three or four of them in a row turn disastrous at the box office, there will be a paradigm shift.
Many in Hollywood took issue with these comments and had their own responses, and Spielberg himself somewhat doubled down recently by reiterating that superhero movies will go the way of the Western, but at the recent press day for Spielberg’s new film Bridge of Spies, he took the time to clarify what he said:
“To clarify, I didn’t predict the implosion of the film industry at all, I simply predicted that a number of blockbusters in one summer—those big sort of tentpole superhero movies—there was going to come a time where two or three or four of them in a row didn’t work. That’s really all I said. I didn’t say the film industry was ever going to end because of it. I was simply saying that I felt that that particular genre doesn’t have the legs or longevity of the Western, which was around since the beginning of film and only started to wither and shrivel in the sixties.”
But Spielberg also added that the changing film industry has widened the availability of diverse genres:
“I was also trying to make the point that there was room for every kind of movie today because there seems to be an audience for everything. Even five years ago there wasn’t an audience for everything. But now, these little movies are just squeezing in and finding a berth next to these huge Queen Mary type movies and they’re able to find an audience, enough of an audience to encourage the distributor and the film companies to finance more of them. These are not just films like Bridge of Spies, it’s independent movies as well. “
He’s not wrong. The advent of Netflix and VOD has created a new market for lower-budget films of all types, and Netflix is looking to change the paradigm even further with Beasts of No Nation, its first original movie and a serious awards player to boot.
But in Spielberg’s case, it appears he’s keen on switching between big budget blockbusters and smaller dramas, just like he’s done throughout his career. He’s currently in post-production the CG-driven family adventure film The BFG, and he’s next set to direct an adaptation of the bestselling sci-fi novel Ready Player One. One genre we probably won’t see Spielberg trying his hand at anytime soon, though, is the superhero movie.