Goodbye to Drama

Yearly top grossing films are as listed on Wikipedia.
Best Picture Academy Award Nominees are also from Wikipedia.
Movie genres are the first genre listed for each movie at

14 Comments on "Goodbye to Drama"

  1. Man, the kids’ movies are totally crowding out drama. It’s interesting to see the pocket of “crime” movies from the late 60s / early 70s pop up in there, which is possibly my favorite era and genre combination. It was right when cinema became permissive enough to start to get really interesting… but before the 1980s when, apparently, the whole genre became absorbed into “action” movies, with overblown special effects, the same old dozen corny actors casted over and over, etc.

  2. It looks to me almost like the comic book-ization of the movie industry. What I mean by this is that before the Comics Code in the 1950s, the comic book industry in the US was comprised of many diverse genres. Yes, there were “romance” comics (and true crime, thrillers, horror, etc.) throughout the first half of the 20th century. The industry at the time resembled much more the culture of manga still found in Japan.

    But afterwards, comics here shed readership as the content became less and less compelling and more and more focused on “kid-friendly” fare. Horror and true crime all but disappeared, along with romance and drama. What was left was largely superheroes (of course), humor (Archie, some Disney, etc.), and the occasional Western.

    I’m not sure if this is particularly good or bad for the movie industry, since this change seems largely driven by the market instead of an autocratic moral code authority with broad censorship powers. One could argue the MPAA fulfills the role of the CCA, but the change over time seems too slight and gradual for the MPAA to be the sole or even major contributor to the change in audience tastes.

  3. Horror BO peaked at 76-80 and 91-95. Does horror BO do better during recessions? Or is it just a blockbuster like “the Exorcist” that pumps up the numbers?


  4. Oh, Horror BO peaked in 31-35, too! That recession theory is looking better and better.


  5. I think the fact that fantasy, kids movies, science fiction, and action movies have filled the drama void is a telling sign of the recession. Seems like escapism is what people crave when life sucks, not watching people’s whose lives suck (it hits a little too close to home). Although Comedy has also declined, so that probably shoots my whole theory to pieces.

  6. My poorly-informed speculation is that the children’s movies have become much better while the dramas have become much worse. I haven’t seen too many fulfilling dramas in a while (The King’s Speech and The Social Network were notable exceptions), but have been thoroughly satisfied with the movies I watch with my kids — Toy Story, Wall-E, Up, How To Train Your Dragon, etc. It’s thus no surprise to me that they’re growing while the dramas are declining; by the time I’ve seen the good children’s movies, I don’t feel a need to see more movies. I doubt I’m alone.

  7. Dramas have disappeared because studios have stopped making dramas. Seriously, name 10 dramas released last year. It’s not that they perform poorly at the box office, it’s that they don’t exist any more.

  8. Film used to be the king of drama because a half hour wasn’t long enough to do drama justice. Now TV does drama that lasts an entire season, or multiple seasons. TV is where the good drama is now at.

  9. I’d love to see another version with net profit. The blockbusters rely more and more on CGI, making them costly to begin with. Some lower-budget films still drawn in smaller crowds and can come out with a profit (Scary Movie 1-? being an unfortunate example).

  10. Very interesting, but I can’t read the labels on the horizontal axis – in the end I had to copy it into an editor and play with the contrast to see it.
    Is it just me, or is pale grey on white stylish but illegible?

  11. Immigration to the U.S. and the need for foreign box office also plays a role. Drama is impossible to understand if you don’t speak English perfectly because good drama depends on real nuances. It’s also the thing that suffers most from dubbing or subtitles when shown abroad.

    Also, the demographic for dramas is over 35 and those folks don’t go to theaters anymore, except with small children. Theaters are for 12-25 year olds.

  12. I don’t know any (or very many ) adults who go to see children’s movies, if they don’t have children. Neither do I, so I don’t see movies in a theater any more, very rarely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *