An L.A. Times story by John Horn is basically saying that the audience for smart complex dramas and thrillers like State of Play (which is expected to tank this weekend) and Duplicity isn’t big enough these days, and that the likelihood of more movies being made in this vein isn’t high.

The common element in these films is poor Tony Gilroy, who directed and wrote Duplicity and did a State of Play rewrite. So this trend (if it persists) is a big slap at the Gilroy brand, which of course many screenwriters respect and try to emulate.

Great. Bring on the lowest-common-denominator dumbness. Michael Bay movies, chick flicks, Bourne thrillers, Sascha Baron Cohen dramas, coarse comedies, family-friendly animated features, Roland Emmerich movies, Judd Apatow comedies, etc.

The underlying point of Horn’s piece isn’t that movies like State of Play and Duplicity can’t sell tickets, but that they cost too much for what they’re likely to make. State of Play should have been made for $25 or $30 million instead of $60 million. ditto Duplicity. It’s that simple. No more star salaries.

Horn quotes Universal production chief Donna Langley saying “you are going to find every studio saying, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it’…It will be awhile until there are a lot of really smart dramas.”