In a 2014 Fade-In interview with the late F.X. Feeney, Nebraska director Alexander Payne said the following:
“Some studio people asked me out to lunch a couple of months ago, and they said, ‘Look, if we let you run the studio, what changes would you make?’ I said, ‘Well, thanks for asking. I believe in the $25 to $45 million adult comedy and adult drama. Why does everything now adult have to be absolutely shrink-wrapped and be robbed of the production value it could have? Where is Trading Places today? Where is Groundhog Day today? Intelligent summer comedies. Where are the intelligent ones?’ Then the studio guy said, ‘Well $45 million…I think I might disagree with your price point.’ I said, ‘You might, but where is Out of Africa today? Why don’t we have films like that?”
Payne wasn’t crazy to ask this. Others felt the same way. The middle-class Spotlight came out the following year (2015) and Manchester By The Sea happened in 2016. But look at how things are now. Good God. It’s just noteworthy, I think, that Payne’s viewpoint seemed entirely legit and reasonable and not in the least bit eccentric only seven years ago.