Ever Wonder How Hollywood Economy Works? Here's a Crash Course from Christopher Nolan

Ever Wonder How Hollywood Economy Works? Here's a Crash Course from Christopher Nolan
Image credit: Legion-Media

Oppeheimer's director has stood up in defense of lucrative franchise movies.


  • Many people complain that movies are becoming a product to be consumed rather than a work of art.
  • Nolan says the industry needs balance to function properly.
  • The director wants the industry to be respectful of audiences in the first place.

This year has seen many profitable movie premieres that are said to have revived Hollywood after the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. Alone Barbie, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and Oppehneimer – three top-grossing films of 2023 – have earned nearly $4 billion at the box office, not to mention countless other films released since January.

While this news sounds good for filmmakers, many people criticize the film industry for being only interested in profit (with countless tired remakes of beloved classics and other 'safe bets') rather than art. Sure, there's some truth to such claims, but they're unfair. In other words, you have to understand the economics of Hollywood to see why there have to be cash cow projects like the MCU franchise. If you don't, here's a comprehensive explanation from Christopher Nolan.

It's All About Balance

According to the acclaimed director, the film industry operates on a yin-yang principle. While cinema is first and foremost art, there must be simple entertainment for people to enjoy and pay money for in order to sustain the entire industry. In this sense, popular franchises are crucial to the success of new projects.

'I think there's always a balance in Hollywood between established titles that can ensure a return audience and giving people more of what they want. 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,' Christopher Nolan said in an interview.

Golden Ratio

At the same time, the Oppenheimer director believes there should be just the right amount of cash-cow franchises to nurture emerging projects.

'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, frankly, seeing the trailer for a movie you've never heard of, or type of movie you haven't seen or haven't seen in a long time, something new, something fresh,' Nolan added. 'A healthy ecosystem in Hollywood is about a balance of two things, and always has been.'

Ultimately, the director didn't offer his ratio of lucrative to new. But his idea that big franchises are a necessary evil is the essence of the film industry. So there's no need to keep ranting and raving about Hollywood going downhill (pun intended). Still, it's important for filmmakers to remember that everything is good in moderation.

Source: YouTube.

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