At the Movies, It’s the Best of Times and the Worst of Times (Again) – Google Alerts

Louis Lumière supposedly said that the “cinema is an invention without a future.”

If you read recent headlines from Hollywood and beyond, you might agree, even though Lumière, one of the pioneers of the medium, made his prediction in 1895. The movies have teetered on the edge of one kind of oblivion or another ever since.

In 1957, Manny Farber wrote that “the mess we are facing in movies and other media promises to be the worst era in the history of art.” In 1995, 100 years after Lumière, Susan Sontag gloomily concluded that cinema, “once heralded as the art of the 20th century,” now seemed “a decadent art.”

And here we are again, or here we still are. For people who care about movies, there is always much to complain about and always good reason to take heart. On the eve of another fall season — filled with Scorsese, Netflix, drama and Disney — our chief film critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, consider the state of the art and the industry, where we are now and what lies ahead. There’s good news, and there’s bad news.


Bah! The big, bleak studio story continues to be Disney and the effect of its domination on the mainstream American movie industry. Disney’s profits are stunning if no longer surprising. By mid-August, it had five movies that had raked in a billion apiece this year alone; by late August it had 36.5 percent of the domestic box office. Its next studio competitor, Universal, had just 13.9 percent while Fox, which Disney bought in March, had a pitiful 3.7 percent. It has no real competition from the remaining studios.

Disney’s dominance and strategically restricted output — it conquered the 2018 box office with just 10 new releases — mean that its every movie becomes another pseudo-event, one amplified by the click-hungry media. When a new Marvel flick opens, that’s pretty much all you read about. Disney may be planning a similar strategy for Fox, which Disney has said will release…

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