This conversation between Peter Jackson and James Cameron about the future of film-making is pretty great, and you should read the whole thing. I hope Jackson’s right about this, but I’m not entirely optimistic:
There are all great tools that people haven’t quite gotten their heads around yet. But one of the things that has happened [is that] people focus on technology. Probably the film industry has been guilty; there’s more attention spent on the technical aspects than the story. That’s led to a self-fulfilling prophecy. People regard CGI as a gimmick, they almost blame CGI for a bad story or a bad script. They talk about CGI as if it’s responsible for a drop in standards. We’ve gotten to a point now where there isn’t nothing else we haven’t seen. We’ve seen dinosaurs, we’ve seen aliens; with Avatarwe’ve seen realistic creatures. I think we’re going to enter a phase where there’s less interest in the CGI and there’s a demand for story again. I think we’ve dropped the ball a little bit on stories for the sake of the amazing toys that we’ve played with.
I think it may take longer than Jackson thinks for people to get sufficiently accustomed to spectacle that it’s not enough to make a moviegoing experience satisfying for them. But even if it takes a while, it’s encouraging that two guys who are some of the most important technological innovators in film are also two of the guys most committed to story out there, and have the clout to make expensive, daring, story-driven movies.