The Commerce Journal

June 7, 2013

Hollywood is not for storytelling

By Jordan Wright
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — The evolution of visual flair in film has not only allowed film to reach a larger audience, but also has even helped to add a sense of scope to the stories of movies as a form of entertainment that has raised the bar for storytelling.

Rising budgetary costs of the film industry has contributed to the creation of products that have made film a staple of the American entertainment industry. However, as blockbusters continue to become the industry standard, film studios have gradually moved away from emphasizing strong storytelling.

The average movie-goer only visits a theater eight to nine times per year, and the highest grossing films tend to be big budget action, comedy and romance flicks. Although studio-backed production can make for absolute gold, all of that money has to come from somewhere and as a result, Hollywood has had no choice but to step back from bolder production in favor of producing inferior, dumbed-down movies.

Exceptions and solid independent features leak out every so often but, for the most part, mainstream film just isn’t about storytelling anymore. That honor has been passed down to home mediums.

Television has become a prime example of this shift. Recently, incredible TV shows that are willing to go places that even R-rated films would not dare have become very popular. Series such as “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” and “Hannibal” have dealt with stronger themes, racier content, and more complex stories and characters within a single season than the entirety of a lot of films within the last five years.

Even video games debatably fall within this category. Game design logic aside, at least modern video games can be liberal with the lengths of their stories and most typically immerse the players into the minds of the characters.

The movie industry is by no means devoid of quality products or good storytelling. However, the days of Hollywood focusing on actual stories as opposed to effects, casting and other miscellaneous factors has been drawing to a close for a while. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but storytellers of the future may wish to look towards home media for new potential in storytelling.