Christopher Nolan Argued That Hollywood Needs Franchises, Actually (But Not Only Franchises)

Going to the movies sure used to be different. For decades and decades Hollywood released all different kinds of fare: rom-coms, survive-the-night thrillers, middlebrow dramas, historical epics, etc., etc. The biggest money-gobbler of 1988 was a drama about estranged brothers, and it starred Tom Cruise. Then in the aughts execs realized there was more money in making almost exclusively franchises, and now the aforementioned genres almost never play multiplexes, if they do at all. But are franchises entirely bad? The guy who made a smash hit one-off about the birth of nuclear weapons doesn’t think so.

“There’s always a balance in Hollywood between established titles that can assure a return in audience and give people more of what they want,” Christopher Nolan recently told The Associated Press, per Variety. “That’s always been a big part of the economics of Hollywood, and it pays for a lot of other types of films to be made and distributed.”

In other words, Hollywood studios shouldn’t put all their eggs in the franchise basket. Instead they should keep making them but use their grosses to make smaller fare. It’s basically how the industry worked for decades, until execs had the short-sighted idea of going only for the biggest fish — even though the smallest fish sometimes netted the most money. (This isn’t a great metaphor, but you get the idea.)

Besides, Nolan argued, who doesn’t love discovering something they’ve never seen before?

“But there also always has to be respect for the audience’s desire for something new. That’s one of the big thrills of going to the movies is, frankly, seeing a trailer for a movie you’ve never heard of or type of movie you haven’t seen,” Nolan said. “A healthy ecosystem in Hollywood is about a balance between the two things and always has been.”

Nolan’s sentiments are similar to what Martin Scorsese said back in September, in which he offered some suggestions on how to break moviegoers of the idea that the only movies are Marvel movies — ideas expressed mere months before the MCU finally had their first decent box office bomb.

Opposition to franchise saturation, Scorsese suggested, has to “come from the grassroots level. It’s gotta come from the filmmakers themselves. And you’ll have, you know, the Safdie brothers, and you’ll have Chris Nolan, you know what I mean? And hit ’em from all sides. Hit ’em from all sides, and don’t give up. Let’s see what you got. Go out there and do it. Go reinvent. Don’t complain about it. But it’s true, because we’ve got to save cinema.”

Nolan is one of today’s most popular filmmakers, and Scorsese is one of our most respected, so perhaps people will follow their advice. Who knows? Maybe one year the biggest moneymaker will a wacky comedy about three bachelors struggling to take care of a newborn, as it was in 1987.

You can watch Nolan’s AP interview in the video below.

(Via Variety)