But film drama is not flourishing the way it did during the 1967-1976 period (Bonnie and Clyde to Taxi Driver). Why not?
I have a couple of ideas. Educated adults are working longer hours today, and a lot of the time they may be too tired to make treks to movie theaters. So they wait for interesting movies to show up on cable or streaming services, as Franklin says, or watch the good television dramas; in either case, they can relax at home.
But there is something else. College students and young adults in the earlier period LED the consumption of serious dramas, foreign films, all the categories that have fallen off today.
I was one of those young people. I was in university slightly later, 1976-1980, and we passionately wanted to see those kinds of film.
I know it is a cliché to bemoan "kids today", but on the other hand, I am an educator with extensive high school and university experience, so I get to observe kids today. In general, they are not as sophisticated. Their education has not been rigorous, they have not been exposed to great works, amd their tastes are childish. Adult subjects FRIGHTEN them. They would rather not think about all that.
The result is that when Seventies-style serious dramas do appear, people under 30 do not consider themselves as part of the target audience, and they do not go. The same holds true for quality dramas on television; I have hardly ever heard young people talking about them, unless the genre is fantasy (Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead).
Just one example of the effect that all this has: A film like The Hurt Locker would have been a solid financial performer in the Seventies (or Eighties, think Platoon), especially after winning Best Picture. But instead it was the lowest-performing Best Picture ever, earning 17 million in 2008 dollars (barely above budget), while Platoon earned 138 million in 1986 dollars. Young people did not attend The Hurt Locker, did not talk about it, and did not support it. They let it die. They only know from blockbusters.