One of the highest grossing directors of all time says it's time for superheroes to hang up their capes.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg says blockbuster movies will soon fail, calling out the superhero genre in particular.
"We were around when the Western died and there will be a time when the superhero movie goes the way of the Western," Spielberg said.
"It doesn't mean there won't be another occasion where the Western comes back and the superhero movie someday returns.
"Of course, right now the superhero movie is alive and thriving. I'm only saying that these cycles have a finite time in popular culture. There will come a day when the mythological stories are supplanted by some other genre that possibly some young filmmaker is just thinking about discovering for all of us."
This is the second time Spielberg has predicted doom and gloom for the blockbuster genre.
Two years ago, the director told a group of university students that he foresaw a future where multiple $250 million blockbusters flopped at the box office and pushed studios back to lower budget films.
The next five years will be a trying time for Spielberg's theory. There are 28 superhero-based movies scheduled between now and the end of 2020. Seven are scheduled to come out in 2016 - including the much hyped Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Superhero movies have traditionally been successful since this latest trend began. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the highest grossing film franchise of all time, which has grossed nearly NZ$14 billion internationally over the past seven years.
Five superhero movies (The Dark Knight¸ The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Age of Ultron) have grossed more than US$1billion (NZ$1.5b) at the international box office.
The trend is showing signs of dipping though. The two most recent superhero releases, Ant-Man and Fantastic Four, both underperformed at the box office. Ant-Man is the second lowest grossing movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Fantastic Four made only US$26.2 million (NZ$41.25m) after being ravaged by critics.
However, Spielberg's comments could be viewed as hypocritical. The director has built a career on his successful blockbuster franchises: E.T, Jaws, Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park have all been top-grossers thanks to his leadership.
He was an executive producer on Transformers: Age of Extinction, the highest grossing film of 2014, and Jurassic World, which broke the records earlier this year for biggest international opening weekend.
Despite his long career, the director has never been involved in a superhero production.
Westerns, after falling out fashion over the past several decades, have seen a slight resurgence recently. Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained grossed NZ$669 million at the box office, and will be followed up by this year's The Hateful Eight.
A Magnificent Seven remake is scheduled to come out next year, with Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt as the leads.
Spielberg's latest movie, Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies, comes out October 22.