Dustin Hoffman: Film Is in Worst State Ever

Dustin Hoffman
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Dustin Hoffman thinks the golden age of film is long gone.

The actor says the movie industry is in its worst state ever, while television is enjoying a boom.

“I think right now television is the best that it’s ever been, and I think that it’s the worst that film has ever been — in the 50 years that I’ve been doing it, it’s the worst,” he told the Independent newspaper.

A squeeze on budgets lies behind many of the problems that afflict high-quality dramatic movies, the two-time Oscar winner said. This has led to less time spent on script development and shooting.

“It’s hard to believe you can do good work for the little amount of money these days,” he said. “We did ‘The Graduate’ and that film still sustains. It had a wonderful script that they spent three years on, and an exceptional director with an exceptional cast and crew, but it was a small movie — four walls and actors, that is all — and yet it was 100 days of shooting.”

Hoffman, who made his directorial debut in 2012 with “Quartet,” says he hasn’t been offered many more opportunities to direct, which is for financial reasons. “I don’t think that has anything to do with whether you are good or not; it’s just about whether your films make money or not,” he said.

Hoffman’s recent TV credits include HBO’s “Luck,” which was cancelled while filming season two, and the BBC’s adaptation of “Esio Trot.” His recent movies include “The Choir,” in which he plays the musical director of a boarding school’s boy choir.

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  1. burt rimmer says:

    Hoffman is right, and he is the greatest!

  2. I agree that by and large movies today are lacking the thoughtful approach, meaningful dialogue and dramatic quality that once made them great. A good movie, much like a good play needs to begin with an excellent script and premise. Schools no longer teach grammer, sentence structure or even spelling – how is one possibly going to be able to begin the monumental project of a movie without a missing foundation? Perhaps it would b wise to reach out to the retired writers, actors and directors to see if a collaboration of experience could give birth to something worth watching.

  3. I don’t watch tv! The program quality was so AWFUL, I just never bought a new one when mine wore out! Is this a good year? I may check it out some day!! But in the meantime, I will look forward to a good movie!

    (Spelling error below!)

  4. We see about oner good movie per year! We used to see many more! I wish I could write a script and put Dustin Hoffman in it!

  5. PM says:

    Agree 100%! Hollywood films is all about BOX OFFICE,not quality! All is special effects and marketing actors. The worst thing is the “journalism” support this state cup!
    USA sell us CRAP; like the Kardashian or movies like Jurassic World or Marvel and DC, who is all who success now. Gym star like Pratt, The Rock and the old actors playing heroes for the teens. This is a reflexion of their society.

  6. The Graduate took 100 days to shoot? That’s less than a page per day. Sounds like luxury to me and I’ve been doing it now for 45 years.

  7. atomicspike says:

    It’s funny reading the comments of these film-goers with selective memories. The way they tell it, you’d think that the “golden” era was wall-to-wall critically acclaimed, intellectual films and that popcorn movies such as indie horror flicks and action films with half-baked scripts are a new revelation exclusive to today’s cinema. It’s not. Every decade has its share of smart movies as well as cheap movies made just to make money. And every decade has a group of pompous, pretentious cranks that think the era they grew up in is better than today’s. It’s a never ending cycle.

  8. TheBigBangOf20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    Sorry millennials. The 20th century will forever be the yardstick of entertainment quality while the dark digital media you have been left with is a Twilight Zone of dreck filmmakers and crash test dummy casting.

  9. andydoerksen says:

    I respect Hoffman’s talent, insights, and body of work, but I think he’s off-base when it comes to big-screen films. A major factor nobody seems to want to address is the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to attend a big-screen movie, especially if you get snacks on-site and you see a 3D or IMAX film.

    You don’t need any of that for just a “talking heads” film – i.e., straight-up character drama. I like those kinds of films too, but I sure don’t want to waste money watching them on the big screen. I’m entirely satisfied with seeing that kind of movie on my TV.

    The big screen is better suited to the proverbial “eye candy” (though I still want good stories for those too). And, well, guys like Hoffman don’t make eye-candy films. They’re better suited to TV, and so I entirely agree with him in re. to the TV scene these days.

  10. Joe says:

    I have to be honest, I’m not too bothered by this. I’ve grown to love TV a lot more than I ever loved film. I mean I still enjoy a good flick on occasion but I want characters I can get invested in. If I’m only seeing a set of characters and their story for two hours and that’s it I have trouble caring about what happens to them. With a series I can watch characters grow and mature. I can see their lives and their struggles for a good amount of time and get to know them. I still like the Marvel movies, Star Trek, and a few others but that’s mostly because I know those characters will be around for a while. I actually like franchises better than standalones because I can get to know the characters involved. I know most of you probably think I’m exactly the problem for that but honestly it’s because there has been so much great TV that I feel this way. Maybe if more modern movies had better characters I’d watch more movies but they just don’t and I need that to get invested. If I’m going to watch a two-hour story and that’s it, it needs to be a damned compelling two-hours. I just can’t get into movies anymore unless I’m reasonably certain I’ll have time to get to know the characters involved. I don’t watch the Fast and Furious movies or Transformers or anything like that, nor do I watch whatever YA distopian franchise is hot this week, but in general I do want multi-part stories with more character-oriented narratives.

    So yes, I think he’s right. But no, it doesn’t bother me all that much. TV is always getting more cinematic anyway. And now with Netflix the difference is becoming marginal and I think that’s the future of onscreen storytelling.

  11. Contessa46 says:

    Dustin is so right on!!!! As they say in business, the fish stinks from the head. “The suits” along with Wall Street has RUINED THE MOVIE BUSINESS MODEL. Anything Wall Street gets its teeth into … Look what they did to Greece. First off they don’t respect the writers enough and many of the suits WHO HAVE NO ARTISTIC experience nor writing experience have to put in their own 2 cents for their ego and can sometimes ruin the direction of a story. They do the same with poduction & post production. Sometimes they leave their dirty ugly foot prints all over a project. That can sometimes make what started out to be a good film an just so-so film. Big egos ruin any project. Netflix, HBO have made a real dent because they are still new kids on the block and they are giving the professionals a lot of room to work. Gone are the days when film studios took care of their writers, stars, and all the other employees you see listed in the credits of a film. Making money is the aim but lately the studios aim is to squeeze the most out of everyone working on the film and then dump them til the next project. It’s a hostile working environment and many have left for the security of another. Making a film is like making a sausage and it’s not pretty not way back less now. In addition to save mo ey they take a film and make sequel after sequel ad nausaum. Where is the great drama? Where are the great comedies? And the remakes–ugh- where are the original scripts. And while we are looking, where are the decent paying jobs? Yes, lots of jobs have been outsourced so that Hollywood can make more moe ey thru tax subsidizing while screwing all those people who used to be so loyal to their studio. Yes, the studio has destroyed their own cash cow for a bigger house, bigger pool, and fancier car. There would be more Independent films if they didn’t have a lock on distribution. So that’s why TV has forged ahead and the really great drama is on the small screen. Weinstein puts out great films but he’s the exception and there is just never enough of his films.

  12. GKN says:

    All so obviously, sadly true… though a great many of those TV shows are highly over-rated too. Guess folks just like predictable unchallenging stuff these days. What a comedown.

  13. John Dominic says:

    Wow. CLICK BAIT. DAMN! No delete option in 1971! That was hell. Now, we have options. Rentals, the internet for downloads? It is a much better world. And if you have the attention span? Even long winded stories. Screw popcorn, sticky seats and over priced soda! You have the world at your armchair. Worst is that you have all this competition for viewers. That could have made The Graduate a much better movie. Though, I loved Mike Nichols. The man truly was a great talent. He never bitched about a thing. He DID IT! He is a DIRECTOR. Actors who desire the seat, take NOTES!

  14. Iván el Terrible says:

    A lot of mainstream movies suck, we can’t deny it. But arthouse is also crap. I mean, look at some Academy Award films made during the last years, they are as painful to watch as something directed by Uwe Boll (12 Years a slave sucks, American Sniper sucks, Boyhood sucks, The Social Network sucks, Birdman sucks, The Queen sucks, David O. Russell sucks, The Imitation Game sucks, The Blind Side sucks, The Reader sucks, The Theory of Everything sucks, Gravity sucks, anything directed by Scorsese during the last 15 years sucks, Woody Allen sucks, etc.). Arthouse is always the same old sh*t and people are tired of watching the same films receiving awards while the innovating/creative films which develop a cult following (like Nightcrawler, The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, John Wick, Wild, Inception, Django Unchained, The Avengers, District 9, etc) are ignored and despised without deserving it.

    On the other side, TV fiction demands some originality. Breaking Bad, True Detective S1, Mad Men, Big Bang Theory during its first seasons, House of Cards, Modern Family, some cartoon series (Regular Show, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty, Archer, Gravity Falls, Wander over Yonder, The Amazing World of Gumball)… Those series tell a better story in 10/20/40 minutes than Scorsese or Allen in 2-3 hours.

    • Ummmmm..... No says:

      Ummm….a lot of the movies that you said suck, pretty clearly don’t.

      You might not like them, but 12 years a slave and The Social Network are certainly well made and acted.

      David O Russell can be divisive, but he’s certainly a competent film maker. He gets great performances out of his actors and the stories he comes up with aren’t always original, but they’re have enough originality to be fresh and interesting.

      Birdman is ambitious and creative. I can see why some people don’t like it, but to say that it just “sucks” is a pretty lame critique.

      As for your “cult films”, The Dark Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Django Unchained, Inception, The Avengers, and District 9 were are pretty huge or EXTREMELY huge blockbusters.

      Scrosese isn’t making his best films anymore, but The Aviator, Gangs of New York (if only for DD Lewis), Wolf of Wall Street, and Hugo were not terrible films by pretty much any measure.

      Anyway. You seem to prefer television, and there’s a lot of good stuff on, but I would steer clear of levying your juvenile critiques on film.

  15. Jim Cirile says:

    However, on the flip side, Marvel has just greenlit movies for 11 more of their slightly more obscure characters such as Froot Loop Man, Biscuit Boy and Pistachio Putz. Oddly, no females were on that list, although a Marvel spokesperson said that, “Females would likely be included in several of those films.”

  16. Mike says:

    Reading the Headline I thought he was doing a movie in New Jersey.

    • Joe says:

      Or… Maybe we could actually represent everyone instead. That way everyone gets stories to which they can relate and you can complain about “political correctness” or whatever and keep showing everyone without a doubt that you’re a clueless straight white guy who’s never been more than a state or two away from home. Everybody wins! We get what we want and you get to keep playing the victim.

      • Mike says:

        Sounds like you’re projecting, Joe. You can fix all those things if you make an effort. We all wish you Good Luck.

  17. stevenkovacs says:

    I got to go see ‘Little Big Man’ at the local cinema growing up.
    This generation got to go see ‘The Lone Ranger’.
    Dustin Hoffman describing the current state of film as being in it’s worst state ever is spot on.

  18. Clearly, the average age of the film critics who comment on Variety’s boards is 12, tops.

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      I was thinking the same. Lost track on the number of times “sucks” is used to describe some exceptional films.

  19. Reader says:

    Shooting movies in a rush is good for no one. Do you know why THE EXORCIST is good? They shot for eight months. You need time but no one understands that anymore.

    • RThomas916 says:

      Robert Evans, in The Kid Stays in the Picture, says that when they made The Godfather at Paramount, it was written to be as popular as it is today. They knew it would still make money 40 years later. It was written and produced to be timeless. Movies are made today to get a big turnout on opening weekend, then sell blu rays to soccer moms. That’s it.

    • tampaflevapesmoke says:

      Yeah, you could say The Exorcist is “old school” like The Graduate. I just seen from another commenter that The Graduate “drags”. I even heard from some that The Exorcist is boring. Today’s movie goer would rather have Pacific Rim, Transformers etc. Fast and furious, a one minute conversation is considered to long cut it to 25 seconds. I do like fast and furious movies, I thought Rocky 3 did that in the day but I’m sure some would say that even drags. Die Hard (the original) and Raiders Of The Lost Ark are probably my #1, 2 favorite action movies of all time. And yes I do love a boring no action movie. Better not watch All The Presidents Men you would get bored real quick. Not me, it’s my favorite movie and yes Dustin Hoffman is in that and that All Is Lost actor also is you know Robert Redford and he’s got another one coming up as well.

  20. jona says:

    Yeah. Movies suck. Mostly the ones you’re in Dustin. But there are plenty more. Perhaps you can convince yourself and other over the hill types to stop trying to fit in and just retire? That includes the lackluster, airhead writers, producers and directors just itching to make their own PC statements. That’s why movies suck now.

  21. LAguy says:

    I think the difference in perspective is a generational one. For those of us of a certain age we can’t help but agree with Dustin Hoffman. It seems like the slate of movies these days consist mostly of big noisy tentpole movies, cheapie horror flicks, and lame comedies. Younger audiences seem to have gotten used to that and manage to enjoy those movies, but not so much the older moviegoers. Sure there are some good movies that come out each year but they tend to be released only in the fall and for the rest of the year we find ourselves scrambling to find smart movies for grown-ups. For me that’s meant mostly documentaries and foreign films. So I think Dustin does speak accurately for a certain demographic.

    • Nicolás says:

      I’m 18 and I agree with him. While I like a good blockbuster once in a while, the film industry right now is all about the money: remakes, reboots, sequels to movies from 30 years ago. They only produce films that are sure to make big box office, so we are left with just a handful of good, well written and directed movies and, as you said, they only come out in the fall for the award season.

    • agman says:

      No. He speaks for all intelligent adults.

  22. Adam says:

    So these actors who complain about movies just being about whether they make money or not; do they also complain about the big paychecks they get for being in big budget films?

  23. Yoda says:

    Is the movie industry in a bad shape? You bet. Lots of bad hit’em-and-run mindless blockbusters. No quality stories. Not even in the horizon of 2016.

    Is the TV industry in better shape? Ummm, not really. (e.g., Ballers, True Detective S2, Astronauts Wives Club or whatever it’s called… and others, god help us to get quality, real quality)

    The only good thing we got out of TV recently was House of Cards and True Detective S1, but that’s it. All the others that you might think are good? Nah Uh – soap operas all of them.

    But I gotta go off point here because, dude, The Graduate? “Still sustains”? “3 years of work on the screenplay” and that’s the result? Really? I mean, SERIOUSLY? Because… You know what? I saw that movie for the first time like a month ago and I was so down by how much it drags and gets worse and worse after about minute 30 or even sooner. I really had to force myself keep watching just to get it off my “to-watch-list”. IT WAS THAT BAD, YES.
    I COULD HAVE WRITTEN SOMETHING BETTER THAN THAT IN [BOLD, UNDERSCORE] 3 YEARS(!). REALLY. I don’t even know where to put my finger on… the acting, the editing, the cinematography, the story losing its initial grip… all of them, simply all of them. So so disappointing after all the hype and expectations.

    So I don’t care if you’re an A list actor… But, sorry, The Graduate sucks. Big time.

    And lastly, “it’s just about whether your films make money or not”.
    Hey, welcome to this thing called a business man, maybe you didn’t know but, yeah, Hollywood is a business, in case you haven’t noticed. You want me to feel bad for you? Well I don’t. You have money to put in… you’re an A list actor, aren’t you? You’re rich, no? You can make your own unprofitable movies. What are you crying about? What are you waiting for? Stop bothering us with nonsense, or like Detective Rust Cohle put it best: “stop airing your bulls**t to the world”. Really do something about it if it bothers you that much.

    As for the rest of us, we’ll just keep voting with our feet – not going near a theater and not turning on the TV to watch any of the crap the industry is trying to feed us. Honestly? Even the trailers began to suck and just give away all the action or even ALL THE STORY(!!!) ARE YOU KIDDING US??? (i.e, “Ricki and the Flash”. THANK YOU, REALLY! I won’t say what not to ruin it for others who might want to watch it).

    It’s like… children run the industry. So sad. Oh so sad indeed.

  24. Sanman says:

    “The Nursing Home” starring Dustin Hoffman, his final movie….

  25. Myster Hyde says:

    Same whining we hear all the time… if they actually did their homework they’d realize every era of film was mostly trash, just like now. Now however, we have great movies, bad movies, and movies that perform well, and ones that don’t. If a film makes money and the studio can justify a sequel, from a business perspective, why not? He must not be keeping up on the Coens, Tarantino, Scorsese, Eastwood, Aronofsky, McQueen, Wes Anderson, Fincher, Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson… all having a history making great films, and also making great films with tiny budgets. Hoffman, shut your dirty mouth.

    • what an idiot you are. all the directors you mentioned make fine movies, but the graduate is still better than anything they can make collectively. you lack such perspective it’s actually sad that you’re allowed to make your comments public

  26. Adam says:

    This coming from the guy who starred in such “classics” like “Mad City”, “Outbreak” and “Dick Tracy”.

  27. David says:

    ain’t that the truth-until foreign auds get sick of special effects with lame storylines, we are stuck with Jurassics and every other franchise you can think of. where is the next Louis B Mayer or Robert Evans?

  28. Gina Powell says:

    Dustin is right on. I also think that a writer who worries about economics, and political correctness is one who restrains themselves. That’s not creativity.

  29. Ethan says:

    Clearly Hoffman has not seen Jurassic World! Wake up and direct great movies with dinosaurs and super heroes! It’s not 1970 any more!

    • brian says:

      Oh god! Jurassic World????

      My… My… I must see that. It’s sure to contain great acting and a great plot! Oh, that’s right… The original (which was made 22 years ago) didn’t even have that!

      It’s funny that you’re saying: “It’s not 1970 anymore” while you promote a sequel to a film that was made nearly 25 years ago. You made such a great point!

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