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"The Big Studio Model Is Fucked": Watch A 1-Hour Talk With David Denby & A.O. Scott About The Future Of Film

by Kevin Jagernauth
May 3, 2013 4:33 PM
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David Denby A.O. Scott

The bell sounding the death of cinema has been ringing for years and years, with all sorts of folks declaring at various times, that the artform is over. But there's no doubt that "cinema" (we're not talking about "entertainment") is in peril, at least at the studio level. Steven Soderbergh's recent address at the San Francisco International Film Festival decrying the current studio system is now the stuff of legend, but he's not the lone voice with that opinion.

Kicking off with the assessment that "The big studio model is fucked," critic David Denby (The New Yorker) kicked off a conversation with colleague A.O. Scott (The New York Times) at the Tribeca Film Festival about the future of film as well as the current state of things. It's an hour-long chat, and it's rare to get two guys like this in the same room for something that isn't a screening, so give it a watch and sound off below. (And in case you missed it, you can watch the Tribeca Talk between Darren Aronofsky and Clint Eastwood right here).

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  • Alan B | May 3, 2013 7:50 PMReply

    Don't give these blowhards any further space, please. They NEVER have anything interesting to say, and will spend three times the length necessary to articulate even the simplest of thoughts. In particular, Denby has been saying this FOR OVER 10 YEARS: "the studio system is DEAD ... no, NOW it is DEAD ... no, NOW it is REALLY, REALLY DEAD ..."

  • Chris138 | May 8, 2013 7:09 PM

    I like A.O. Scott just because he can be critical of something without throwing in personal insults. Rex Reed and especially David Denby have this odd fascination with the physical appearances of people and mentioning other things that have nothing to do with the film itself. Reed has admittedly made me laugh at times with some of the things he really hates, but Denby just comes off as a snob and a jerk. And yes, the whole 'cinema is dead' argument has gotten very old and only makes Denby more annoying as times goes on. But, hey, I guess he needs something to do other than writing for The New Yorker all day so I guess he can have his moment to complain about something that really isn't quite as dramatic as he makes it out to be.

  • Nathan | May 4, 2013 5:53 AM

    Denby's okay, he almost makes The Atlantic readable (his takedown of Inception is fantastic). But, I totally agree with you on A.O. Scott. His New York Times Critic Picks videos are mindless fluff. The funny thing is that people that say the studio system is dead or dying seem to forget that that's exactly what everyone said in the sixties. And then the studios completely recovered in the seventies and got even more powerful in the eighties.

  • pat | May 3, 2013 6:42 PMReply

    Lincoln, Argo, Les Miserables, The Life of Pi, Magic Mike, Flight, and The Dark Knight Rises all came out of the studio system and where massive successes that do not feature the tidal studio paradigm for success. Lincoln was a long talky period piece about the passing of the 13th Amendment. Argo was about the Iranian hostage situation (warning Middle East). Les Miserables was a musical with no hit songs and very little comedy-Actually being a drama. The Life of Pi was based on an esoteric book about religion. Magic Mike was about male strippers. The Dark Knight Rises provided a real ending for a film series as opposed to constantly chugging them out. Flight featured one of the last real movie stars showcasing a descent into addiction.

    Natuarlly all of these films had their share of detractors, but met with more supporters. Additionally, the movie going public all around the world embraced these films financially. Factor in studios supporting the next efforts by Curon, Greegrass, the Cohens, and PTA and you see a system that is not negating cinema at the expressed pursuit of financial gains.

    It is easy to bash a system from a spectators perspective like Denby and Scott; however, they have never actually been inside the system expounding on truths like blind men saying what the weather will be.

  • Michael M | May 5, 2013 4:19 PM

    20 million is a pretty overt amount for a debut or amateur filmmaker. A skilled director needs only a few mill. (ex. Nicholas Winding Refn).

  • Head Buckaroo | May 4, 2013 10:38 AM

    "You're saying that a studio should just give a 40-70 million on some person with no track record?"

    Yeah, why not? Many of the GREATEST FILMS OF ALL TIME were made by unproven filmmakers. Take a fucking risk! Maybe not $70 million, but you can make a super nice looking, recognizably cast movie with $20 million.

  • Mongoosecmr | May 3, 2013 9:47 PM

    No, and don't put words in my mouth. I don't disagree with the money aspect and can't even offer a solution to this problem but you can't list filmmakers who made it in Hollywood at least a decade ago (most of whom make very conventional films) and say Hollywood is actively funding interesting, exciting filmmakers.

  • pat | May 3, 2013 8:27 PM

    So Mongo,

    You're saying that a studio should just give a 40-70 million on some person with no track record? Spielberg, Greengrass (CPT. Phillips, United, Greenzone), the Cohoens, Nolan, Scorscee, Zemeckis, Curoan, Cooper, PTA , Affleck, Eastwood, Mendes, Howard, Fincher, Sccott, and now Aronofsky (Noah) can play with studio money because their films typically turn a profit . Excluding The Master, all of PTA's films have either turned a profit or broken even. Sounds reasonably that they want people who want to make something that puts them in the red.

  • Mongoosecmr | May 3, 2013 7:02 PM

    Oscar bait and established directors are not the same as studios supporting intelligent, artistic cinema. Coens Bros and PTA worked their way up from indies, Curon did a franchise film and Greengrass makes blockbusters. Those other films are funded specifically to get awards, quality nonwithstanding. When's the last time a major studio funded a young director that wasn't doing a genre film?

  • Serena | May 3, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    Where's the hour-long version the headline promises? The clip is only 3 minutes long.

  • Kevin | May 3, 2013 5:23 PM

    Sorry, should be there now.

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