Audience Versus Art

This past week I saw Ad Astra in theaters and it has to be one of the best movies of this year. It’s visually stunning, the story is engaging, and Brad Pitt’s performance is incredible. That being said, it’s failing in the box office.

This inspired me to write this post about art vs. audience. Often times the story the director wants to tell and the story the audience wants to watch are two completely different things. This leads to fantastic movies failing to make their budgets back and lackluster films tripling their money.

The Core Issue

The core issue is what audiences say they want and what they really want are two different things entirely. Audiences say they want new exciting movies. New stories, new characters, new planets, new everything. They want to be taken to new worlds and leave this world behind when they walk in the theater. However, their spending habits say otherwise. Every film that has made significant money this year has been part of a franchise.

This leads studios to keep pumping out the same old content with the same old characters.

Audiences then go online and complain that the movie is unoriginal and they wish they had different movies to watch and the cycle starts over again. Until audiences stop seeing remakes and sequels we will never get original movies.

Branch Out

If audiences start to branch out, then more unique movies will start to make money, and when that happens, studios will start funding more original movies and the directors will have more creative freedom. It all starts with the audience. If they put their money where their mouth is we can get some great new movies, and it needs to happen soon. I love going to the movies but this year I have only seen two movies in theaters because nothing good has come out. Ad Astra was fantastic and I’m looking forward to “The Lighthouse,” but that’s really all I want to see. I understand that it is challenging to see movies that you don’t know if you’ll like, but give them a shot before they’re gone.

Directors Perspective

Directors need to be more open to meeting the audience halfway. I completely understand that directors want to do justice to the story and make it the best they can, but if no one sees it, then why bother? We need to start meeting our audience in the middle and making something that can make a statement while also telling the story in its entirety.

Christopher Nolan does this so incredibly well. He’s captured the film fanatic audience while also capturing the average moviegoer as well. His movies are the best of both worlds. If we strive for that kind of filmmaking, we will all be better off.

Win Win

If both parties can make some changes in the way they look at movies, we can all have better things to watch, directors will be happy, audiences will be happy, and the studios will be happy. It’s a win win.

So if you’re planning on watching a franchise movie soon, maybe consider seeing something else you wouldn’t normally watch. If you are writing your next script to blow away the critics, maybe consider your audience for a moment and make it easier on them. If we can all work on making these changes, we’ll all be better off.