David Lynch Sees No Future in Cinema; Says the Best Art House Is on TV

Published 2 years ago by , Updated March 18th, 2014 at 10:14 am,

David Lynch on the set of Twin Peaks David Lynch Sees No Future in Cinema; Says the Best Art House Is on TV

More or less everyone with an interest in film has at least heard of writer-director David Lynch, but many people would be hard-pressed to say what he’s been up to in recent years unless they were a keen follower of his work.

Lynch has definitely been busy; aside from lending his voice talents to The Cleveland Show and making cameo appearances in Louie, he’s released a blues album (and will be releasing a second next month), created his own blend of coffee, and has made a return to his origins as a fine artist.

Since Lynch is best known for his wonderfully weird feature films like Eraserhead, Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, a recent interview with The Independent naturally turned to the topic of whether or not he was planning to return to the career that made him famous.

In response, he expressed a deep lack of enthusiasm for the state of the modern film industry:

“It’s a very depressing picture. With alternative cinema – any sort of cinema that isn’t mainstream – you’re fresh out of luck in terms of getting theater space and having people come to see it.

“Even if I had a big idea, the world is different now. Unfortunately, my ideas are not what you’d call commercial, and money really drives the boat these days. So I don’t know what my future is. I don’t have a clue what I’m going to be able to do in the world of cinema.”

It’s hard to tell whether or not independent filmmaking or the making of art house films is more difficult today than it has been before, since there is often an inclination to view the past with rose-tinted nostalgia goggles. Given that it has been so long since Lynch released a film – and given the fact that his critical acclaim has never quite been matched by great box office success – his skepticism over the matter of whether or not he’d be able to get funding or distribution for a film is understandable. Of course, there’s always Kickstarter.

breaking bad bryan cranston David Lynch Sees No Future in Cinema; Says the Best Art House Is on TV

On a slightly brighter note, Lynch said that he enjoyed shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, and that he wouldn’t rule out creating a new TV show for AMC, HBO or even Netflix:

“I like the idea of a continuing story… and television is way more interesting than cinema now. It seems like the art house has gone to cable.”

Comments about TV shows becoming generally more diverse and well-written than mainstream cinema are not uncommon. From beautifully crafted and often surreal horror shows like Hannibal to the gripping fantasy drama of Game of Thrones and the addictive mysteries of Orphan Black, we are uniquely privileged when it comes to the current quality of TV drama. This is particularly interesting since film has always been considered the home of high art in the visual media, whereas TV tends to be classified exclusively as “entertainment.”

The question of why we rarely hear discussions of “art television” along with all the talk of art house film is a complex one, but there are a few factors that may have thus far been holding critics back from taking television as seriously as film.

Many of the most notable art house films have been produced independently, with a great deal of creative control on the part of the director. When a film is financed by a major studio, there seems to be an implicit understanding that it is somehow less pure, artistically speaking, since it becomes subject to overhead interference for the sake of improving marketability. It is certainly true that the greater a film’s budget is, the greater the pressure becomes to make not simply art, but also make a profit. In the case of TV, a show requires decent ratings in order to survive.

Since TV shows are entirely reliant upon network approval and popularity in order to be made and sustained, there really isn’t a TV equivalent of the independent film market. However, with that in mind, the budget for television drama is actually far more comparable to independent film than it is to mainstream movies. The Walking Dead costs $2.8 million per episode, but it is something of an anomaly in an industry where $1-2 million is far more the average for an episode of a drama series.

Cover art for David Lynchs Crazy Clown Time David Lynch Sees No Future in Cinema; Says the Best Art House Is on TV

Cover art for David Lynch’s album, ‘Crazy Clown Time’

What does all this mean for Lynch? He’s confirmed definitively that he’s not interested in bringing back Twin Peaks for another season, but could whatever idea he’s had cooking for a movie be translated into cinema, or might he express his enthusiasm for a continuing story in a brand new show?

It would be nice to think so, but based on this interview, a move back into either TV or film isn’t looking all that likely. Lynch expressed contentment with his current focus on a music career and “small projects,” and his caveat of “even if I had a big idea” suggests that he doesn’t have a big idea for a film brewing at the moment.

For now, it looks like Lynch fans will have to settle for enjoying his music… and the coffee, of course.


Source: The Independent [via The Playlist]

Follow H. Shaw-Williams on Twitter @HSW3K
TAGS: Twin peaks
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  1. David Lynch says, from his perspective, exactly what’s been on my mind about the movies lately.

    • David Lynch’s comment: “Unfortunately, my ideas are not what you’d call commercial, and money really drives the boat these days.”

      Just this year alone two “sleeper hits” so far, NOW YOU SEE ME and THE PURGE budgeted far below a tentole (with THE CONJURING on its way to theaters) are neither “art-house” fare nor micro-budget; but suggest it’s possible for Lynch to stay in the game.

      However, if he’s rankled by Hollywood overlords, and ambitious to bring his non-commercial ideas for programming to TV, well…cable television is quite commercial in what it offers viewers.

      Either the filmmaker doesn’t really want to resume making movies, thus continue his voyage aroud the industry as a Flying Dutchman of sorts; or Lynch possesses “ideas” that (for the moment) are too embryonic, so incapable of developing outside the womb.

  2. I hate when people say that
    They make no effort to go watch good movies…
    How many of those people who say that cinema is dead went to see Mud and Before Midnight ?

    • Exactly comment drool. Mud is a masterpeice and is my favorite film of the year so far. The 98% on RT is no joke. Before midnight was also very impressive

      • I’ve yet to see those indies, however I have really been looking forward to Mud. But my favorite film this year is another Indie, Place Beyond the Pines.

  3. His comments seem as if he needs his movies to make money and be widely successful for him to want to continue making movies which is sad. Muholland drive fits perfectly fine with audiences and i dont see how another movie of its nature would get anything less than critical praise. Lynch is a great director but his heart is in the wrong place, and should make the films he wants for himself and the people who enjoy his work

  4. David Lynch didn’t like The Tree Of Life, so I don’t care what he thinks about movies…
    Mullholand dr is one of my favorite movie by the way

    • Tree of Life was pretty horrible.

      I don’t understand his comments. He’s never made a film that grossed more than 30 million dollars. I don’t know if its just me but independent films are better than ever and main stream films are getting worse. Maybe I’m just on Super Hero overload.

  5. David Lynch is basically echoing what I’ve been thinking for a while now, that for all the big dollars the studios are raking in currently, mainstream cinema has never, NEVER been in a worse state artistically than it is now, period! Movies are mere product to sell to consumers in the eyes of the studio execs it would appear, no more relevant than a tin of baked beans or a soft drink, they’re product to market and to sell to consumers!

    I’m not saying big-budget films are all crap and lower-budget films are all masterpieces, but a little variety in output would be nice from the studios, where are the mid-range budget films they used to make? Studio films are either $30m tops at the low end and then $100m upwards at the top end… there seems to no longer be anything in between! And just try pitching a film idea to a studio that isn’t a comic book or video game or sequel or prequel or reboot of some kind…

    Lynch is absolutely right in regards to television being where it’s at right now in regards to proper storytelling, it’s a new golden age we’re living through on the small screen, and if I was a writer or an actor or a director, television is where I’d focus my efforts, bypassing features completely unless an absolutely dynamite script came my way that could get financed and distributed properly! Short of that, feature films are a dying art form right now, it used to be television was safe and bland and films were the cutting-edge of drama, now it’s films that are largely safe and bland and it’s television that’s leading the way in strong writing, acting, and directing… and long may it continue!

    One last note, I so wish Lynch would re-visit ‘Dune’ and if not oversee a newly restored and approved director’s cut himself, at least give instructions and directions to someone else to re-edit that flawed but transcendent gem of a movie closer to his original vision… please give it another thought David sir, that film was a work of art even in it’s compromised and truncated theatrical version…

    • Worse than merely a product to sell, they’re brands that are sold. It’s name recognition, not quality production. People will go see the new Adam Sandler movie because it is from Adam Sandler. Star Trek, because it’s Star Trek. Star Wars, because it’s Star Wars, even if it’s absolutely dreadful and a complete and utter waste of human investment.

      This adds another level of human greed, too. Adam Sandler can greatly inflate the budget of a really terrible project, inject all sorts of blatant advertising, and make money three different ways on something that shouldn’t have cost a dime. How widespread is that practice?

    • About Dune….. Really? I watched that again recently, and while I loved the book and the Kyle MacLachlan movie as a teenager, I could not stand it. I withstood it, but I was so happy to cut it off and put on the Last Starfighter.

      I don’t remember what I liked so much about Frank Herbert’s beloved novel, but I don’t see it now. To each his own, and to his own path he goes.

    • DUNE is a masterpiece. Still great even mutilated.
      David is bitter over that experience no doubt.
      And because of that he shant be revisiting.

  6. Can’t blame him, another famous director recently said the same. Can’t remember right now but he preferred TV nowadays over Hollywood movies. Hollywood is too concern about satisfying adolescents. TV has been good lately, and feel like it just keeps getting better in terms of art quality.

    • Tarintino

  7. Twin Peaks was so far ahead of its time it would be
    a phenomenon if it were just made now in this time.
    David lead the way to what television could become.

    No doubt he is right, his ideas for cinema would not
    find a receptive audience in studio boardrooms these
    days that seem preoccupied with commercial success.

    David remains one of those talents that are destined
    to be unfulfilled yet nonetheless leave enough to
    point to a great things that might have been.

    As was the case in Blue Velvet, the answer lies with
    the candy colored clown they call the sandman,
    where some things only happen in dreams.

  8. Directors act as if the quality of films is horrible, if they are concered do something about it. Yeah we are gonna get a lot of stinkers each year but these same directors could change the game. They need to strive towards bringing out incredible films instead they complain about the fate of movies. Nolan doesnt constantly say how films are getting worse, he tries to give the audiences great films as many other directors do. Lynch needs to stop complaining and make a film, its been forever.

    • Well maybe Nolan tries, but i don’t think he is contributing to making better films, not even better than his previous ones.

  9. Movies are awesome sir….

  10. Says the man who made “Eraserhead”…probably the worst movie ever made. (IMO)

    • Your opinion is wrong.

      • There is no right or wrong in opinions. They are not facts. It’s his right to dislike a movie, especially one as tough as Eraserhead, even if we disagree with him.

  11. TV has been good lately, and feel like it just keeps getting better in terms of art quality.

  12. Lynch >>>>>>> Nolan the hack

    • I wouldn’t go so far as to call Nolan a hack,
      he’s just not anywhere as good as dullards say he is.

      Nolan and abrams and Snyder and most of the popular directors these days are beneficiaries of the severely lowered standards of the new normal.

      • I respectivley disagree, nolan is the biggest director in the business right now along with abrams. He changed the
        Summer blockbuster and has yet to have a film that isnt critically acclaimed. Low standards? You understand 80% of films released each year recieve poor to below average reviews. Standards are higher than ever, because nothing is original anymore and hype is so strong. Nolan gets the credit he deserves for redifining the blockbuster film and having a amazing track record

      • Nolan is a stronger visual storyteller than Lynch. David Lynch has a lot of interesting ideas but he can’t seem to get out of his own way enough to create consistently compelling films in my opinion.

  13. I never thought about it like that,
    but he’s right.


    Hollywood movies are all cgi remakes for dullards,
    but there are still some good movies being made in other placed like Britain.

    But as far as murikan film,
    the best stuff does seem to be cable originals these days.

  14. David Lynch creating a new TV show for HBO or AMC would just be the best thing ever. Please let it happen.

  15. This is total bull s*** movies are still art people just need to stop going to see the stupid ones. Drive, Enter the Void and a bunch of other indie movies are amazing but these mainstream films are not that good. Granted some of them are great like Man of Steel, The Great Gatsby(2013) and so many more. Yes there are a lot of shows on TV that are amazing such as Breaking Bad, Mad Men and Game of Thrones but TV doesn’t have to be the place to see art just don’t go see movies for the sake of seeing a movie.

  16. AMEN! Something is deeply wrong with the movie industry. If we’re lucky, one in ten movies released is a good, at best. I’d take HBO, Netflix or AMC any day over a big studio release.

  17. There is some merit to what Lynch is saying as far as getting money and a venue for smaller movies to be shown. Artistic content & quality tend to be subjective, but the financial end of the film industry passed ridiculous a while back. The fact Adam Sandler’s last movie cost 70 million to make is only made less mind boggling by the fact somehow they came up with that kind of money for the project.

  18. Lynch almost came back to TV with Mulholland Drive…
    It was originally shot as a pilot but the network (I forget which) didn’t pick it up so he went back and shot scenes to flesh it out as a film.
    So while I’d be one of the first to watch a series created by Lynch I have to say that I’m happy that his last attempt at a series didn’t work out because Mulholland Drive is a masterpiece…
    Also, I’m still stunned Naomi Watts didn’t win a Oscar for that movie.

  19. I agree that a lot of the television dramas are great these days, almost on par with top tier films, but I still don’t see TV networks getting behind anything as experimental as movies like Holy Motors, Cosmopolis, or even Cloud Atlas.

  20. So how many big budget movies compare to non?
    Answer: Very very small.

  21. What I would like to know from David is why isn’t there more of his past films on blu-ray?
    BTW Most of all the LionGates Horror films steal heavily for his movies. Why hasn’t someone got him to do a nu-horror movie.

  22. He already did his “lack of inspiration” routine around the same time last year but six months later, he was working on a new project with Laura Dern, so I wouldn’t take whatever he says for granted. This is far from being the first time he contradicts himself.

    With that said, considering how I loved his entire filmography from Eraserhead to Mulholland Drive but was bored to death by his last movie with its slooooooow pace and its dull, shaky images, I’m really not eager to see the man return behind the camera, especially with a project yet again involving Laura Dern whom I never liked.

  23. Does anybody know where the qoutes from david lynch are from so i can reference them properly??