|Yes. Yes, It Does.|
Here's a truism: there has never been a better time to make television, and there has never been a worse time to make movies. (And I say this having seen "Trainwreck" over the weekend, which was just about as good as I had hoped, and no, I have no higher praise than that.) The reasons why are myriad, with lots to say about how movies are way too locked into effects -- honestly, could most of these turdburgers even get out of the pitch meeting without nine figures of effects to make them language proof? -- but the bigger problem is, well, the audience.
To wit: we get the movies we deserve. And it really looks like we deserve retread sequels that drain the life out of the small ideas that made them tolerable before (yes, I'm talking to you, "Minions"), or more or less hit the one octave range of Gritty Superhero Movie. Meanwhile, television puts out an increasing amount of stuff you have not seen before, with characters who actually have degrees of nuance, in narratives that don't necessarily have to go where you think they will, or tidy up in the obviously allotted time.
As much as I'd like to put this on the tech -- it's a lot cheaper to make episodic stuff now than in the old days -- it's more about the people. The idea that someone out there wants to see a "Fantastic Four" movie, about five years after there was already one of those... well, um, why? Is someone really going to lose their fudge if they don't get an "Ant Man" movie? And is anyone else more or less totally disgusted by the idea that there's going to be fifty movies with male superheroes in the lead for every one female superhero?
We used to make fun of people who got truly geeked out about these movies. They were the intellectual equivalent of children. They were not serious intellects. Real movie stars did not appear in these movies, for fear of being typecast as, well, idiots in capes. Real directors did not make these movies, because they wanted to make things that spoke to who they were as artists, rather than businessmen. You used to be able to make serious money making serious movies. You know, the ones from the 1970s, that we still watch today, and quote extensively. No one sang along to prerecorded songs in public with the idea that this was an actual talent. The concept of obvious inanity like air guitar championship, or eating contests, or the vast nauseating panoply of reality television, was not on anyone's radar, because you do not use radar to look underground.
You can blame it on Steven Spielberg, or George Lucas, or the Internet validating the opinions of people who did not care about artistic merit or long-term entertainment value.. but I blame the audience. Grown men and women dress up as if they were extras in a movie, and instead of abusing them with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, we legitimize a convention filled with them. The industry courts them, because there is enough of them to make the money work, and no one feels bad about only eating candy any more.
One small question to these folks... are you really going to feel good about watching these kinds of movies when you are, well, an actual adult? Aren't you the least bit self-conscious about the fact that you're going to need foundation undergarments to pull off your cosplay, even for a few hours? Is the goal to cheat death by never, ever, becoming a grown up, with an actual attention span and such?
Grown men and women do not, and should, want to watch a movie or show they have seen dozens of times already. It's also, increasingly, the only thing that's allowed to appear in theaters. Which is just one of the reasons why getting out of the movie theater business is a brilliant idea...