Cinema industry: US v Spain

Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California. Hollywood is known as the home of the American film industry. (Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org)

Cinema, one of the most popular options by people who want to have a good time with family, friends or on their own. Most people love going to the cinema, or at least watching movies at home.

Cinema is called the seventh art, after the six arts described by the German philosopher Hegel. But is it still an art or is it a way of just making money?

Nowadays we are in the blockbuster age where the main reason to make a movie is to make as much money as you can. We see this with the Marvel Studios films or with unnecessary sequels/prequels, as Jurassic World or Star Wars episodes I, II, and III. Even though these films may not be as good as the originals, people still go watch them– myself included.

Why do we do this? We enjoy the hype of seeing our favorite characters again and because they might be a sequel/prequel of your favorite movie. 76% of the top 50 highest-grossing films are sequels or prequels. In fact, the tickets for Star Wars episode VII have already been sold out in many cinemas around the country a month before the movie is set to be released.

Not all blockbusters are made with the idea of becoming a blockbuster. Two good examples of this are Toy Story 3 and The Lion King– two of the best movies of all time. Toy Story 3 was nominated for best picture in the Oscars. Both movies have generated around $1 billion in box office.

Also, blockbusters aren’t usually in the important nominations of cinema awards (best director, best picture). This is a trend that has changed within the last years where movies as such as Gravity or Inception, made with a blockbuster idea, have been nominated for the most important awards. In fact, Gravity won the Oscar for best director (Alfonso Cuaron, 2014).

Even though these movies wish to make money, we can still see true movies coming out every year that give the cinema lovers some kind of hope such as Boyhood which took 11 years of filming, or Whiplash, where you see a will to make really good movie and that doesn’t give importance to the box office.

What has also changed is the way we go to the movies. Cinema theatres have experienced huge changes. In the past you’d buy your ticket and that’s it, but nowadays you don’t only buy the ticket but you buy snacks for the movie. In fact, you can end up spending the same money you spent on your ticket or even more. Also, the theatres have been changed to make them the most comfortable for the spectators, we see this in theatres as Raleigh Grande where the regular chairs have been replaced for reclinable leather seats.

I’d say there aren’t many differences between how you go to the theatre in Spain and how you go in the US. In both countries, the theatres are really comfortable. There are lots of snacks available for the movie and we get lots of commercials before the movie starts. I’d say the biggest difference is the time movies come out, unless the movie is a world premiere like Star Wars Episode VII. We would usually have to wait between two and three months, sometimes even more for the movie to come out. Also in Spain, we don’t get the same amount of movies that the US’ theatres get, but also some movies that we get in Spain don’t make it to the US. This happens mainly with movies of the Spanish industry. Even though some don’t make it to the United States, the movies made in Spain aren’t as bad many people think.

Spain has won in total four Oscars for the best foreign language movie and has had a couple of nominations in other categories. Also two Spanish actors, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, have won the Oscar for best supporting actor/actress.

The most awarded Spanish director is Pedro Almodóvar– he has won in total 2 Oscars, one for best foreign language movie and the second one for best original script. It’s hard to believe that he has won more Oscars than other directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick or Orson Welles, when these three are considered by many people as three of the best directors of all time. In fact, Citizen Kane, by Orson Welles, is considered one of the best movies ever.

Being Spanish, this makes me feel very proud of my country and its industry; despite some of the limitations, we can still create good movies.

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