Is Disney killing the movie industry?

Disney is one of the biggest powerhouses in media, but have they started to kill creativity in films?

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Mickey Mouse in front of the Disneyland Castle in Orlando, Florida

Jonas Corliss, Staff Writer

LOS ALAMITOS, CA — It is an obvious fact that Disney is one of the biggest media companies to ever exist. From their original movies like “Encanto” to their owned properties like Marvel, Star Wars, 20th Century Studios, and even ESPN and ABC, Disney has a lot of power over what media gets produced. However, is this insane reach a good thing?

There have been numerous times over the past years when people have called out Disney for putting out half-baked and lifeless products. One major example of this is “The Lion King (2019),” a “remake” of the classic 1994 film that made little to no changes to the original outside of visuals but still made over $1.6 billion.

Another point of contention for film fans has been Marvel. Since 2008, Marvel has been one of, if not the biggest, pop culture phenomena in the world. With 30 total films released as of “Black Panther Wakanda Forever,” the MCU has grossed around $28 billion, becoming the biggest film franchise of all time. With three or four films coming out every year, Marvel has solidified itself as the biggest force at the modern box office.

People have many gripes about this. One issue is how formulaic and planned out they are. One of the biggest names to voice their criticism of this is Martin Scorsese, one of the most celebrated filmmakers of all time. When asked about Marvel movies, Scorsese responded by saying that they aren’t real cinema and likened them to a theme park. When this interview was published, there was a lot of discussion with people taking both sides of the argument. Scorsese later went on to clarify that he meant that the films were specifically designed to be safe, there is no risk or experimentation to be had. Like an amusement park ride, you basically know what you are going to get before you experience it.

While talking about the films Scorsese stated, “They are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit, and everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can’t really be any other way,” meaning that all of them share base elements with little to no variation, because the formula is so proven to work that drifting away from it is an unnecessary risk.

Another major issue that people have is just how dominant Marvel has become in recent years. The average box office total for a Marvel film is $716 million. This overwhelming force has dominated theaters for years and has changed how most production companies and theaters work, another thing that Scorsese has spoken about along with Quentin Tarintino just recently. Major franchise films have become the main way that money is made in the film business, pushing smaller, more cutting-edge films to the side. This ideology has prevented the more artful and deep pieces of art from receiving the love that they deserve, much to the dismay of cinephiles.

The idea of the movie star is the last subject I’d like to discuss. Although it may not seem like a problem, this is more a result of how the cinematic environment has changed. When discussing his personal role in the MCU, Anthony Mackie provides one of the clearest explanations of this. In the past, people would go to the movies to watch Sylvester Stalone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Will Smith, according to Mackie in an interview. The modern era of movies, however, has changed this. You now go to see the newest Harry Potter, Captain America, and Marvel films. Characters and brands have gotten so big that they completely eclipse the movie stars themselves.

These concepts and practices have become entangled with the modern movie and viewer. This presents a problem that doesn’t really have an answer: what can be done to fight this? As of now, the best solution seems to be just to wait out this era of cinema, as Tarantino said about the musical adaptation era of the 1950’s. And this time may come sooner than some might think, with discussions of super-hero burnout being a major topic online. At this point, the golden age of the superhero may finally fall, and cinema may return to the practice of independent film-making.