The Biggest Way The Film Industry Has Changed Over The Years, According To Robert Redford

Robert Redford Pete's Dragon

In case it isn't obvious, both the way movies are made and how they're approached is completely different now than it was six decades ago, and having been a part of the film industry for nearly 60 years - making his on-screen debut in a 1960 episode of Maverick - Robert Redford has witnessed that change first hand. With that much experience, however, one might wonder exactly what he sees as the most significant transformation Hollywood has undergone in that time. Thanks to a recent interview, we have the answer: the period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when cable television began to grow, and studios started to look at their feature projects in a different way.

With the actor starring in the wonderful new remake of Pete's Dragon that arrives in theaters this Friday, I recently had the honor of sitting down with the great Robert Redford during a press day in Los Angeles -- and amongst the topics of conversation was the way in which the industry today differs from what it was when he first started out. I asked Redford if he could identify what he sees as the most significant change in the last 56 years, and without missing a beat he explained,

Probably the fact that somewhere around 1980, between 1979 and '80, cable television was increasing, video-on-demand was coming on. At the same time, Hollywood as an industry was becoming more centralized, and they wouldn't be making the smaller films anymore. They were just going to be focusing on the larger films where the money was. Studios themselves were shrinking; the business was changing. And that was right around 1980 -- to me, that was the biggest change.

Of course, film fans know that during that same time period Robert Redford was doing more than his part to try and ease this evolution in the industry. In 1978, he helped found the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, which was established to help get exposure to smaller, independently funded and artistic-driven films that otherwise wouldn't be seen by anyone. In the last 38 years, the competition between television and movies has only increased, and studios do continue to dedicate special focus to their potential tentpoles, but Redford's festival has kept going strong in the time since then as well, and has introduced us to some of the best filmmakers working today.

You can watch the legendary Robert Redford talk about his perspective on the changing film industry in the video below:

Do you agree with Robert Redford's perspective here, or would you argue in favor of another major change -- be it the proliferation of visual effects, or the way perceptions of genre have changed. Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, and be sure to see Redford back in action on the big screen this weekend in Pete's Dragon!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.