On The Death of Cinema

So, at the end of the film Weekend (1967) by Jean-Luc Godard, there are the words: “Fin de Cinéma.” (“End of Cinema”).

The Seventh Seal (1957)

The Seventh Seal (1957) – another `Death cinema’  genre film

And, around every ten years or so, somebody yells out “Cinema is dead!”

Not many people use 35mm film any more. `Negative cost' means Production Cost plus P&A cost.

Is cinema dead ?

This year (2015) Godard has a new film, `Goodbye To Language’,.

And see the article:

Godard movie ‘Goodbye to Language’ is critics group’s top film (2015)

So – is cinema really dead..?

Note this progression below, (the move towards sequels and adaptations, and away from original films) over the last 30 years:

From: http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/01/05/has-hollywood-lost-its-way/

And – see this similar chart for Australia. (In fact the below chart was inspired by the above chart.)

Top Grossing Australian Films (Given, J, Curtis, R & McCutcheon, M 2013, p. 71)

Top Grossing Australian Films (Given, J, Curtis, R & McCutcheon, M 2013, p. 71)

The above chart is from the excellent report: Given, J, Curtis, R & McCutcheon, M (2013), Cinema In Australia: An Industry Profile, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC.

But what is creativity?


  1. StoryAlity #6 – What is Creativity and How Does It Work?

And – another thought-provoking article, here:

Is Cinema Losing Its Grip?


Another one, here:

Has Hollywood Murdered The Movies? 


Also, Peter Greenaway said it (“cinema is dead”) in 2007: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/greenaway-announces-the-death-of-cinema–and-blames-the-remotecontrol-zapper-394546.html

And Godard also famously said it again too, in 2011.See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jul/14/close-up-jean-luc-godard and http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/jul/12/jean-luc-godard-film-socialisme

Alan Resnais says, there is nothing to worry about:

Alan Resnais on the death of cinema http://www.ifc.com/fix/2009/09/alain-resnais

Anyway – my own view is: what they mean by this, is, the death of pure cinema.

So. What is meant by `pure’ cinema?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but by this I mean: films that are films because they are not trying to be anything else. An adaptation of a novel, or a movie sequel, or a movie based on a board game[1]  is: trying to be something else. i.e.: Not just: be a movie.

See the full article about this progression, (the move to sequels and adaptations, and away from original films) over the last 30 years:

Hollywood's Waning Creativity (from: Short of the Week)

Hollywood’s Waning Creativity (from: Short of the Week)


Now, why do you suppose Hollywood (well, the US film industry) has done this? `Moved away’ from original films – to sequels and adaptations, so much?

Probably many reasons and one of them – because, investors are risk-averse.

So – for now – gone are the days of pure cinema: the awesome 1960’s and 70’s when we could have popular original films like Bonnie & Clyde, Taxi Driver, Being There, The Godfather, The Exorcist and The Last Picture Show, and Easy Rider.

For some of the reasons why this happened, see the book and documentary: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls…



Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood – Peter Biskind (1998) http://www.amazon.com/Riders-Raging-Bulls-Sex-Drugs-Rock/dp/0684857081


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003)  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359203/

One reason was not simply that Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) meant the era of “the blockbuster” arrived – and that thereafter `indie’ (arty) movies got stomped on like some big ole cinematic Godzilla.

According to some (e.g.: me) – the main reason was: the studio executives didn’t understand why Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) actually went viral.

However, now that we have results of this doctoral research study, the reasons are more clear: Star Wars (1977) is in the study of the top 20 ROI films (and Jaws also qualifies: it actually fits the StoryAlity Screenplay Syntagm). But – it would appear, the studio executives didn’t `get it’ back then…

They thought then, and they appear to still think: The reasons films go viral are everything but the Story. And – if they do think it IS the story, they don’t actually know what characteristics of the film story it is, that makes a film go viral. (And, possibly: neither do the screenplay gurus…)

Thankfully – this doctoral research study maybe gives us some answers. 

And guess what: You probably can’t get this information anywhere else.

…Thoughts, comments, feedback?

The Seventh Seal (1957)The Seventh Seal (1957)

i.e. – Is `pure cinema’ dead, and – if so, what would it take to bring it back?

See also: StoryAlity Weblog Index.

And see:

  1. StoryAlity #100 – The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme – the Unit of Culture (Velikovsky 2013, 2014)
  2. StoryAlity #130Why Some Things Are Popular (Velikovsky 2014)
  3. StoryAlity #131 – Why Things (like, some Movies) Are Popular – and – The Anna Karenina principle

Comments always welcome.


JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/



[1] (Surgeon General’s Warning: Your I.Q. may permanently drop by 1 point, for every minute you watch one of these, i.e. a movie based on a board game, like, say `Battleship‘.)


Given, J, Curtis, R & McCutcheon, M 2013, Cinema In Australia: An Industry Profile, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, VIC. http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:32121

Allen, A.S. (2012) ‘Has Hollywood Lost its Way?’. at Short of the Week: http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2012/01/05/has-hollywood-lost-its-way/ 



One thought on “StoryAlity #17.2 – On the Death of Cinema

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #76 – The `new’ Film RoI numbers at The-Numbers.com | StoryAlity

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