Film genres are sort of like fashion; everything is cyclical, and things that go out of style for a while eventually become cool once more, or they’re re-invented with a new bow on top to make them interesting again. Movie genres have a lot of big themes that return time and time again and always seem to get a standing ovation from the box office and from critics. Superheroes and superpowers may have a saturated market to deal with, but they’re certainly not fated for the grave. The same can be said for dystopias with a strong female lead, or remakes of previous successes. Clearly those aren’t going anywhere in the immediate future, but there are a few film types that appear to be on their way out. Undoubtedly they’ll be back one day, but for the time being there are a few
There is more than one way to approach this argument. One could target those genres that have been making the least amount of money — after all, money is pretty important to the survival of anything in the free market. However this argument goes out the window fairly quickly when you consider that many movies gross very little, but are also very low budget. Other movies don’t get the same release audience, but win many awards and are widely considered to be good films. Here Birdman comes in handy as a useful example. It received rave reviews, but according to Fortune, it was one of the lowest grossing films to win Best Picture as the Oscars. And there are a number of films that truly did bomb in terms of making back the money that they spent — but its difficult to see trends in genres in recent years based on that, as much of that had to do with film quality rather than genre.
Which brings us to a more subjective place, but one where the arguments are at least not based on stats given false meaning. Let’s look at genres that have, in the last year or more, either seen little film production, stagnation, or seen mostly poor quality with mediocre responses.
It’s not that there haven’t been westerns made in the last five years, there just haven’t been very many good westerns — lookin’ at you Seth MacFarlane and Cowboys & Aliens. There have been some cross-genre successes — A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night was an excellent film, but “the first Iranian Vampire Western is hardly the classic niche. Likewise, there’s a great deal of excitement about The Hateful Eight coming out, but it’s more the exception than the rule — and a large part of that excitement is to do with Tarantino’s name and style. When you consider the other Westerns that have come out in 2015 — Echoes of War, Jane got a Gun, The Timber, and Western Religion – it doesn’t look so good.
Western movies are a classic film genre which contains some of our most beloved movies. But part of what makes them such classics at this point is the way in which they age — it takes a very special script or director to elevate a storyline to where the bar has been raised over time, because there have been very few pure westerns past the 1990s that have measured up — True Grit being one possible exception.
2. Medieval Action Films
This genre is mostly targeted because it’s simply isn’t producing that many films right now. There were periods where medieval action was really big. Five or ten years ago you have Robin Hood and King Arthur, both fairly bad action movies, and since then action has gone the way of Marvel, D.C., and science fiction. There are still B-movie type films being made with knights and kings, but at this point it doesn’t appear to be something movie-makers are willing to pursue with any degree of seriousness.
Excusing The Hobbit, and that’s a big exception that needs to be made clear from the get-go (but J.R.R. Tolkien films are sort of their own genre) fantasy films haven’t exactly been big. The magical quality that’s so appealing in that kind of movie has been taken over by — once again — science fiction and super-hero themes, and the medieval wizardry trope has gone out the window in a “if it’s not Lord of the Rings what’s the point” sort of way. Children’s movies have retained a degree of magic and fantasy, dragons, witches, talking animals, and live-action Disney remakes, that sort of thing, but the rest of the adult fantasy genre is taking a sabbatical it would seem.
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @
More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- 7 Fantasy Adventures That Never Lived Up to the Hype in Theaters
- 5 Mistakes That Made Disney’s ‘Tomorrowland’ a Movie Flop
- Netflix New Releases: 33 Movies and TV Shows Coming in June