How do we choose which movie to see in theatrical release at the cinema, by rental, online streaming, or on DVD/Blu-ray disc at home? With a worldwide movie industry fiercely competing for the attention and money of filmgoers requiring various kinds of entertainment, this is a question filmmakers have always had to consider from the outset. They need to provide films that entertain, but which also make money, moviemaking being an expensive business. From the first commercial cinema screenings, the process of choosing has been made easier for viewers through films being conceived, made, marketed and consumed according to type or genre. Some people may be dismissive of ‘genre films’ because the less imaginative products can seem formulaic and predictable. Yet the world of film cannot do without generic categories, since most of us have specific preferences: action pictures, romantic comedies, horror movies, musicals, gangster or sci-fi thrillers, ‘European’ or ‘foreign’ movies — or even maybe Shakespeare adaptations. Furthermore, as the fiction entertainment film grows in popularity, it can be increasingly difficult to make choices, since movies increasingly mix one genre with another. This makes film genres — such as the ‘thriller’ — harder and harder to contain or define in a single category.
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