Steven Spielberg Says Superhero Movies Will Go "the Way of the Western"

"These cycles have a finite time in popular culture," director says in new interview.
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Steven Spielberg

Two years ago, Steven Spielberg famously predicted an "implosion" of the movie industry because of its over-reliance on big budget summer blockbusters. In the wake of the success of Jurassic World, which Spielberg produced, that hasn't changed, he says.

"I still feel that way," Spielberg told The Associated Press while promoting Bridge of Spies, his upcoming Cold War-era thriller. "We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western. It doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns."

In 2013, the director warned of "the big danger" that came from studios placing such emphasis on summer tentpoles at the expense of other releases. "There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen megabudget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm," he said during an appearance at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

What would follow that implosion, he suggested at the time, could include price variances for non-blockbusters — "you're gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln," he suggested, before saying that his 2012 biopic of the former President almost ended up on HBO instead of in theaters — and a lack of opportunities for young filmmakers to learn their trade.

Spielberg's 2013 comments were part of a roundtable with George Lucas, president of interactive entertainment business at Microsoft Don Mattrick and CNBC anchor Julia Boorstin at the opening of the Interactive Media Building at the school.

Talking to the AP, he admitted, "Right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving," before clarifying, "I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us."

Bridge of Spies, released next month, will mark the director's first project since those comments, although he has a number of projects lined up to follow it, including an adaptation of Roald Dahl's The BFG and a movie version of the sci-fi novel Ready Player One. He was also the executive producer of Jurassic World, a movie that he said put him "back in the dinosaur business."

"I would have been ecstatic if we had done what the town was expecting, which was a $100 million three-day weekend," he told the AP. "That would have just made my whole year. But the fact that it did over twice what the prognosticators were predicting, it just blew me away."

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