Danny Boyle Gets Blunt About British Cinema: ‘I’m Not Sure We Are the Greatest Filmmakers’

The Oscar winner, best known for "Trainspotting" and "Slumdog Millionaire," thinks his home country is better at making pop music than movies.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 07: Danny Boyle attends FX's "Pistol" Los Angeles FYC event at El Capitan Theatre on June 07, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images)
Danny Boyle
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No institution embodies the history of English cinema quite like the British Film Institute. And few British filmmakers are more accomplished than Danny Boyle, who earned his first Academy Award nomination for “Trainspotting” in 1996 and won the Oscar for Best Director for “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2008 (amid a slew of other awards nods). So naturally, Boyle’s recent lecture for BFI seemed an ideal opportunity to celebrate his country’s contributions to cinema — at least in theory. But, as it turns out, the 66-year-old filmmaker doesn’t think there’s that much to celebrate at all.

In a series of remarks first reported by the Daily Mail (via The Guardian), Boyle expressed his belief that filmmaking isn’t England’s strong suit. While there are certainly exceptions, he thinks the nation is better suited to producing theatre and pop music.

“It’s a terrible thing to say at the home of British film but I am not sure we are great film-makers, to be absolutely honest,” Boyle said. “As a nation, our two art forms are theatre, in a middle-class sense, and pop music, because we are extraordinary at it.”

Still, that isn’t going to stop Boyle from continuing to make films. He is currently attached to direct Michael B. Jordan in the biblical thriller “Methuselah,” and recently revealed that he’s open to directing a third “28 Days Later” movie.

“I’d be very tempted [to direct it],” Boyle said of Alex Garland’s three-quel script. “It feels like a very good time actually. It’s funny, I hadn’t thought about it until you just said it, and I remembered ‘Bang, this script!’ which is again set in England, very much about England. Anyway, we’ll see. Who knows?”

He’s particularly interested in the idea because it could help bring British audiences back into movie theaters (something Boyle feels is necessary, considering his apparent lack of confidence in other British filmmakers).

“It might come back into focus because one of the things that’s happening in the business at the moment is it has to be a big reason for you to go to the cinema, because there are less and less reasons,” he said. “It’s hard for companies distributing films and for cinema chains to show films, they’re struggling to get people into the cinema unless it’s something like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ or a Marvel. But a third part would get people in, if it was half-decent.”

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