“Going to the movies has become like a theme park,” she told Radio Times magazine. “Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking - you get the best return right now but you wreck the earth.
“It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world. I don’t want to make $200m (£150) movies about superheroes.”
"Asked whether she would ever consider making a film about a superhero, she said she would consider it, but only if they had “really complex psychology”.
There are plenty of cinephiles that are worried about the current state of American cinema at the moment. The most popular complaint seems to be aimed directly at the influx of superhero movies currently populating, or for many polluting, the cinematic landscape. Many directors have come forth in recent years criticizing the superhero genre including Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, David Cronenberg, William Friedkin, Terry Gilliam, Mel Gibson and, even, Roland Emmerich!
You can now add Jodie Foster to that list of high-profile filmmakers as the 55-year-old writer-director-actress, in an interview with Radio Times (via Daily Mail) magazine, recently compared the superhero genre to fracking.
“Going to the movies has become like a theme park. Studios making bad content in order to appeal to the masses and shareholders is like fracking – you get the best return right now but you wreck the earth,” she said.
Yikes. And if that isn’t bad enough, she went on to say that these American-produced superhero movies are not just polluting the United States but the rest of the world as well. “It’s ruining the viewing habits of the American population and then ultimately the rest of the world. I don’t want to make $200m (£150) movies about superheroes,” she added.
Foster, recently directed an episode of Netflix‘s “Black Mirror,” but says that it ain’t easy to be a filmmaker in Hollywood these days unless you are part of the untouchables club such as Steven Spielberg or Clint Eastwood, adding there is a “lack of respect” for most other directors.
Conversation has instantly sparked around Foster’s comments, and it didn’t take long for “Guardians of the Galaxy” director James Gunn to issue a fascinating response on Twitter:
I think Foster looks at film in an old-fashioned way where spectacle film can’t be thought-provoking. It’s often true but not always. Her belief system is pretty common and isn’t totally without basis. I say not without basis because most studio franchise films are quite soulless – and that is a real danger to the future of movies. But there are also quite a few exceptions.
For cinema to survive I believe spectacle films NEED to have a vision and heart they traditionally haven’t. And some of us are doing our best to move in that direction. Creating spectacle films that are innovative, humane, and thoughtful is what excites me about this job.
But, to be fair, at least from Foster’s quotes, she seems to see filmmaking as something that’s primarily about her own personal growth. For me, that may be part of why I do this, but spending many millions of dollars on a film has to be about more than that – it’s communication – so my experience is merely one spoke on that wheel. But I respect Foster and what she’s done for films and I appreciate her different way of looking at Hollywood’s landscape.
Yes, a thoughtful, courteous response that cuts to the heart of the issue and, in a way, it seems like Gunn does agree with Foster’s assertion that “spectacle films” are often empty. But Gunn says the solution isn’t necessarily ditching the $200 million superhero film, but, rather, transforming it.
Gunn, after all, gave a bit of heart and soul to ‘Guardians’ and even fought the MCU bigwigs to have his “Awesome Mix Tape” included into the original movie. Of course, he’s one of the few exceptions to have responded in a mannered, adult way to Foster’s criticisms, as fanboys on social media were going nuts over the last few days. To which I say, all the better for it. After the Disney/Fox deal, Foster has reopened the debate on the superhero movie at a relevant and important timeframe as the industry is slowly, but surely becoming monopolized by sequels, reboots, remakes and, more to the point, a influx of superhero movies, which are, as Foster correctly asserted, “soul killing.” Maybe the fracking analogy isn’t far off.