Stellan Skarsgård on Marvel, money conflicts in the film industry

Stellan Skarsgård on stage at the Götenberg Film Festival looking blue because of the lighting.

As he is set to make his debut as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in that of Denis Villeneuve Dune adaptation, Stellan Skarsgård’s lyrics at a film festival last year did the trick and reminded us of some big points when it comes to money and the film industry.

Every few weeks or so, the inhabitants of the movie Twitter (and presumably other social media circles) go on a curious frenzy over what the beloved directors of classic movies widely regarded as “correct” cinema have to say about today’s Hollywood obsession with superhero franchises. Although little ever comes from this cyclical pattern of moderate outrage followed by a return to the hype for the Next release of Big Studio, it’s always an interesting reminder of how those who claim to love cinema the most will always be enraged by it. For those who have invested in the idea that studios like Marvel and Warner Bros. are “ruining” the film industry by flooding it with comic book stories, directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and David Cronenberg have become heroic figures rallying against the machine with both their art and their categorical reviews of the studios.

But what often gets lost in the rush to celebrate that position – especially in response to the adoption of Scorsese – is the reality of how the bulk of the movies we spend time discussing and thinking about are the ones. studio products, which are companies which mainly focus on manufacturing money. This point is something that Stellan Skarsgård tried to make clear during an interview at last year’s Götenberg Film Festival where he shared some thoughts in response to an article by Scorsese in the New York Times who claimed that the Marvel movies are not really art. Skarsgård’s comments have been making the rounds lately in the wake of its director on Dune, Villeneuve, accusing marvel movies to turn the public into “zombies”. But what he said at the time is still worth considering in a larger, industry-wide context. The real problem, Skarsgård explained, is not specifically Marvel, or relative upstarts like Netflix, but rather “the fault is that we believed for decades that the market should rule everything. And the rich get richer, and that’s the root of everything.

The point Skarsgård made was that while it is easy to distinguish individual studios like Marvel, one of the main reasons it is able to take up so much space and oxygen is the way money and power are consolidated within the industry on many levels. In Skarsgård’s opinion, many different distribution and film companies have been lost to the benefit of monopolies across Hollywood, but the real damage to the industry haIt is the result of new leadership that prioritizes profit over art. “They’re run by big companies who want 10% of their invested capital back, which means as long as they’re selling popcorn it’s okay,” Skarsgård said. “That’s why all the mid-range movies, movies with budgets under $ 100 million, and over $ 3 million, no longer exist. These are just $ 100 million and $ 3 million movies, and nothing in between. “

This pursuit of profit, Skarsgård explained, is one of the reasons we’ve seen such a sharp spike in the studios’ original episodic programming over the past few years, but he also said the same influences would eventually come to pass for the prestigious series space. as more and more studios are fighting for a part of it. Clearly there is a lot more variety on TV and streaming services in terms of the types of projects that get the green light compared to feature films. But the actor pointed the finger at HBO, owned by AT&T, as an example of a studio’s financial priorities hampering the development of art. “[W]What will ultimately happen is that the diversity of voices will end, ”said Skarsgård. “HBO is now bought out by AT&T, and they’ve been told before that you can’t do what you did because what you did was, yeah, you made the money, but you got the money. made of quality. stuff, which means you haven’t done this a lot of money.”

There shouldn’t be hard and fast rules about how much money a TV show or movie has to earn to be considered ‘good’, in the same way we shouldn’t lock ourselves in thinking that only one set number of projects involving super people can come out in a given year. It’s true that studios keep doing things because they tend to do exorbitant sums at the box office, but that’s the last thing Skarsgård wanted everyone to keep in mind.

“[I]It’s not Marvel’s fault, ”Skarsgård said. “It’s the fault of an idea of ​​how the world’s economic systems should work. It is all fiction. But it’s the fiction that we’ve had for the past two decades, [and it] led to this.

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