Yesterday afternoon, while doing a few housekeeping chores, I loaded a DVD of The Godfather to watch while putting away items cluttering the living room. I've seen the movie so many times that I can recite quite a few lines in unison with the characters.
In the environment of today's movie studio culture, it is very doubtful that a movie like The Godfather could be produced.
Jason Bailey has written an excellent article entitled How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA , published on the website Flavorwire.
The premise of the article is that major film studios are no longer willing to invest in mid-budget films (defined as movies with budgets between $5 million and $60 million dollars). Film studios now prefer the so-called "tent pole" or "blockbuster" films, that cost much more to make, but that can be enormously profitable. By concentrating on big-budget blockbusters, a studio can make enough money on one hit to absorb the losses of all the misses for the year.
The effect of this emphasis on big-budget film is that directors who have made some of the best films of the past few decades, directors like Francis Ford Coppola, Whit Stillman, Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch, and John Waters, are not able to consistently make movies for major studios, if they can make them at all.
An alternative available to directors is to go into the crowded marketplace of low budget independent film. Like indie culture in other artistic media, independent film is a hotbed of innovation and diverse voices. But for a director accustomed to working with much larger budgets, it is also a significant step down, in both production capabilities, and in the effectiveness and profitability of the distribution networks.
I won't summarize Bailey's article further. He builds a strong case that the huge budget "tent pole" movies have edged out the mid-budget category which gave us "The Godfather", "Metropolitan", and "Blue Velvet".
I was an avid comic book fan in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so I enjoy the spectacular, big-budget superhero movies like "The Avengers", and the various incarnations of Spiderman and Batman. But I don't want them to completely edge out more thoughtful movies, with less predictable plots, and more fine-grained character development.
Bailey's article points out a depressing flaw in the way movies are being produced now, and if you love cinema, you should read it.