does film criticism have a future?

As you may have already heard, film criticism site The Dissolve announced yesterday that it was shutting down, a mere two years after it was launched by former staffers of The A.V. Club. In his good-bye post, founder and editorial director Keith Phipps blamed “the various challenges inherent in launching a freestanding website in a crowded publishing environment, financial and otherwise” for the site’s demise.

The Dissolve was backed by Pitchfork Media, which is kind of a big deal, and had great traffic, as far as I can determine. So the site had corporate money backing it and (presumably) staffs dedicated to marketing, promotion, and ad sales… and it still wasn’t able to survive.

Meanwhile, all the many sites devoted to reposting every studio press release, and cheerleading every would-be blockbuster, and spreading every bit of rumor and gossip about who might get cast in some comic book movie that won’t even start shooting for three years? Those sites seem to be doing fine.

The Dissolve’s shutdown is very depressing news. If they couldn’t make it work, what hope is there for film criticism today?

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