Count Barry Diller among those who think they don't make good movies any more.
Diller -- whose career as a studio head for both Paramount (1974-1984) and 20th Century Fox (1984-1992) spawned classic films ranging from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Beverly Hills Cop" to "Die Hard" and "Wall Street" -- told Marketplace (via Deadline.com) that corporations have been the downfall of quality films.
"One of the reasons I think movies kind of stink is because they're now so low on the totem pole of greater corporate interests," Diller said. For example, according to Diller, 80 percent of Fox's revenue used to come from the films it produced; now that number is greatly diminished as Fox has become a "multi-diversified company."
Diller may have a point. Back in 2011, Universal chief Ron Meyer said during a Q&A at the Savannah Film Festival that the bottom line was his top priority.
"[A critical hit is] great when it happens," Meyer said. "But we did 'A Beautiful Mind,' and I don't know that we'd do 'A Beautiful Mind' again. That's the sad part. It's great to win awards and make films that you're proud of and make money, but your first obligation is to make money and then worry about being proud of what you do."
"A Beautiful Mind" won Best Picture at the 2002 Academy Awards ceremony.
Meyer isn't alone. In recent New Yorker profile of Ben Stiller, an unnamed studio executive was quoted as saying that taking risks on projects are frowned upon.
"Our owners don't need us to swing for the fences at all costs in hopes we can justify our existence," the anonymous executive said. "If we don't make smart decisions, they'll just reduce the number of films we make."
That's sad news for not only audiences, but creative people like Lana and Andy Wachowski. The siblings struggled to get "Cloud Atlas" financed, in part because it didn't fit into any pre-determined Hollywood box.
“The problem with market-driven art-making is that movies are green-lit based on past movies,” Lana Wachowski said. “So, as nature abhors a vacuum, the system abhors originality. Originality cannot be economically modelled.”
For more on Diller's current endeavors, head over to Marketplace.