Why work in genre?

Something I wonder about is, why do directors choose to make the movies they make? That is, I wonder why they diverge from the trope of looking at directors as “auteurs” who are happiest making inscrutable art-house films. Money is of course one cynical explanation (and there is definitely the occasion where a director will scale back after hitting it big). Of course this ties into the idea of the “cinema of attractions”, and that genre films allow for a departure from reality that suits the spectacle of the attraction. Even personally I can see this effect, as I am more interested in sci-fi movies because of the often incredible special effects. The book reading goes more into the use of genre to alert the audience of common themes and then play with them (e.g. special effects in sci-fi).

So  then why are directors (who at this point in their careers could make any movie they desired) continually choosing to make films in a genre. Tarantino likes crime films and lately westerns, Scorsese likes his crime movies, etc.

Christopher Nolan (at least partly) answers this question in the reading, here is the relevant quote:

“Why am I working in this genre for the audience? What does it allow me to do as a filmmaker that I couldn’t do in a more everyday universe? The answer is this operatic quality. It’s this ability to blow things up into very large emotions that are accessible to a universal audience.”

I think this is an interesting idea. There is certainly merit in a small-scale character driven drama, but it is easy to fail to connect to that kind of movie.  It seems strange that it should be easier to connect to a man in a bat suit fighting crime, but I think you can leverage the natural suspension of disbelief in a super-hero film to get the audience engaged and connected. That is, since the audience has already taken the first step in accepting to pretend that the fiction of the movie is real, then it is easy to get them to take another step to connecting with the characters.

Some questions:

Why do you think directors make genre films?

Why do you think you like the genres that you like?

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