Is Cinema as we all know it, now Dead?

2022's The Fablemans and Empire of Light had striking similarities when peeling its layers. Aside of the mental disorder subplots, both coming of age films  Directed by Steven Spielberg and Sam Mendes respectively, were unapologetic love letters to the Cinematic experience, something that most of us can relate to but in this current landscape, things change and not necessarily for the better as the motion picture industry are dealing with a major slump. Possibly the worse since the early Seventies where televisions were sold in massive quantities now that they became more affordable. 

It wasn't until the success of Blaxploitation films, when Hollywood managed to regain recover thanks to better bankable films such as The Exorcist and Godfather 2. And now, it's Deja vu all over again thanks to 2022's breakout legacy sequel Top Gun Maverick, and the long-awaited Avatar 2, this was of course, after the slump that occurred over three years ago.
Why is the movie industry still facing extreme challenges? Here are a few reasons.
There is too much dependence on big franchises, Reboots and remakes. Lacking originality and creativity where the franchise is often seen more of a box office appeal than say, the actor or director. 

Storytelling has been sacrificed for these "fast food" franchises like Fast and the Furious, or yes, the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies as a sure-fire bet. This explains why lesser-known films or indies, have a short release window while they are dumped for streaming on demand.
Which segues into what is the most impactful change in the film industry, the rise of streaming services. In the past, movies were released in theaters, and then later on home video. Today, movies are released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. 

This in fact,  has made it easier for people to watch movies from the comfort of their own homes, rather than having to go to a theater. This shift has also led to the creation of original content for streaming services, which has given filmmakers more opportunities to tell unique and unconventional stories. With streaming, there is that convenience of having quick access, where going to the theater seems now a less than enthusiastic experience. Everything is ala carte when you have all these variety of platform applications as in the previous examples of Netflix, Hulu, HBO MAX, Paramount, Amazon Prime and so forth.

The rise of social media has also changed the way movies are marketed and discussed. In the past, marketing for movies relied heavily on trailers and posters. Today, studios use social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram to promote their movies and engage with audiences. This has created a more interactive relationship between filmmakers and audiences, allowing for greater engagement and feedback.
The Covid pandemic, served as the catalyst causing the shutdown of all theaters well over two years. This has caused the industry to lose billions of dollars  along with the fact how smartly scripted and well produced Television series are able to compete against movies, with the advantages of home viewing and a more fleshed out storyline spanning over say 8-10 episodes per season. Television is catching up to cinema as we know it, in a major way!

The cultural shift has gravely impacted the moviegoing experience thus putting a serious dent towards studios and theater chains' profit margins Meanwhile, Hollywood is struggling to recoup their losses by appeasing to broader audiences i.e. China for big returns on their investments. That's why there's so many "Franchise films" and sequels being made instead if higher quality films. While there this practices has been successful many times, it’s not necessarily a quick fix for the crippling industry. In conclusion, cinema is not the same as it was before. The shift from traditional film to digital technology, the rise of streaming services, and the impact of social media have all transformed the film industry in significant ways. While these changes have brought about new opportunities and possibilities, they have also brought about more challenges and concerns. As technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the film industry adapts and changes in the years to come. 

The good ol days of cinema and a few of my memorable scenes in films:

The Death of Optimus Prime. Optimus Prime's death scene in the original 1986 Transformers animated movie was a particularly emotional and traumatic for me and many others who grew up watching the cartoon series as I always saw him as the Autobots’ “Captain America”, a symbol of strength, courage, and selflessness especially when sacrificing himself to save Cybertron, the Autobots and Earth from Megatron and his Decepticons. As Prime lays mortally wounded from battle, he passes on the mantle of leadership to Ultra Magnus, to ensure victory against the evil faction. This scene is particularly poignant as Optimus Prime’s death was a reminder of the sacrifices that heroes sometimes have to make in order to protect others, and the importance of continuing to fight for what is right even in the face of loss.

Zombie versus Shark! One of my favorite scenes from Zombie (also known as Zombi 2) is the infamous shark vs. zombie scene. In the scene, a zombie fights a shark in the ocean, and it's just as ridiculous and amazing as it sounds. The scene is incredibly over-the-top, and it's a great example of the over-the-top gore and violence that Italian horror movies are known for. Another favorite scene from Zombie is the "eye splinter" scene. In the scene, a woman is attacked by a zombie, and a piece of wood splinters off and gets lodged in her eye. The scene is incredibly gruesome, and it's a great example of the over-the-top gore that makes Italian horror movies so memorable.

How Snake escaped from New York. In the penultimate scene from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, former Special Forces soldier and convicted criminal Snake Plissken, the President, Brain and Maggie are escaping from the penal city via hijacked cab. This scene was incredibly tense, as they're being chased by The Duke and his gang resulting in the deaths of Cabbie’s passengers including himself. The chase scene was well-choreographed, (while Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s score added much depth.) followed by Snake’s showdown against The Duke, during a desperate attempt to reach over the wall.  it's another great example of the gritty, low-budget action that made Escape from New York a cult classic and my favorite movie of all time!

Darth Vader's revelation: “Who’s your Daddy?” In this impactful scene from Star Wars Empire Strikes Back, the Sith Lord reveals to Luke Skywalker that he is his father, which is one of the most iconic moments in cinema history. This scene is incredibly well-acted by both Mark Hamill and David Prowse (who played Darth Vader), and it's a major turning point in Star Wars.

Captain America leads the charge in Avengers Endgame! 
Just when all hope seems lost with the remaining Avengers battle against the mad titan Thanos, from out of nowhere Thor's hammer Mjolnir,finds Cap worthy of wielding the asgardian weapon to which our Star spangled man with a plan, cries "Avengers, Assemble!" culminating as the long awaited payoff. Honorable mentions were, Iron Man's final sacrifice, and the return of heroes who were previously turned to dust by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. The emotional weight of the scene is also particularly powerful, as it's the culmination of over a decade of storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is a fitting conclusion to the Phase 1-3 saga.

Yes, things have changed but at least I had my share of great memories going to the movies whether it was with my mother, as a kid. Or several years afterwards friends, where we laughed and commented on a scene. When my date or lady friend would affectionately lean their head on my shoulder, or when my wife and I would dine in at a restaurant after exiting the theater. I'm fortunate to have those experiences which memories will not be lost like "tears in rain."