When is the last time you saw a good, big-budget movie in theaters? 

It is difficult to come across a big-budget movie that left you feeling impressed nowadays. While it isn’t impossible, it feels like an upward fight that isn’t worth the expensive movie ticket. 

But where did things go so wrong in the movie-making pipeline? While our favorite person to blame is the studio executives, their meddling and desire for a profitable big-budget film add some weight to the problem, James Gunn believes that the root of the issue might be with the screenplay and the director. 

The writer/director often answers some fan questions on his Twitter, and one question about film scores snowballed into Gunn expressing some harsher opinions on the state of cinema. 

James Gunn's theory on why modern films are so bad'Peacemaker'Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution

Gunn responded that he’s glad good composers can iron out whatever issues he may have syncing a scene with the score, although the director commonly plays the music that will be used in the scene on set. Gunn understands that not everyone can do this, and that falls on the fault of a disorganized production. 

Over the years, factory filmmaking has become Hollywood’s default mode in its ongoing pursuit of the next $1 billion movie. This leads to most scripts on big movies being unfinished and leaving directors scrambling on set to improvise that day’s shoot. 

This level of improvisation is why some directors are not fortunate to have musical scores ready when they start filming. This isn’t to say that having a score ready when you shoot is necessary for filmmaking, but it is nice to have that option readily available. 

When another Twitter user said that the second reason behind “the deteriorating quality of feature films” is studio executives, Gunn replied, writing, “I’d say, after shooting with unfinished scripts, unprepared directors are the number 2 issues. It aggravates me to no end that so many directors—not most, but many—squander people’s time, money, & talent by walking onto a set not knowing where they’re going to put the camera.” 

“Directing is a privilege,” Gunn wrote, doubling down on his previous statement. “[W]e are so lucky to do it & there are so many talented people who want to do it. Seeing directors who aren’t grateful for that opportunity & respectful towards the talent & hard work of those around them pisses me off to no end.” 

While studios may be a part of the problem, Gunn believes that the lack of preparation on the behalf of the director is what makes a movie bad. 

As the leader of the team on a set, the director should have a specific level of care and professionalism when working with their talent and crew. They can achieve this level by being prepared and knowing what they want to see before they step onto the set. Being prepared doesn’t mean that whatever vision the director had for a scene has to happen, but it is the starting point for those creative conversations. 

For those reading who are directors, do you agree with Gunn? Are there problems outside of the director’s control? 

We want to hear from you, so let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Source: James Gunn via Twitter