Until a few years ago, documentaries weren’t mainstream media and were considered utterly boring and exhausting. Unless you really had a passion for the subject, one wouldn’t intentionally start up a documentary and watch it all the way through. It just simply wasn’t something that you could watch with your partner while relaxing on the sofa, unlike normal movies.

Its purpose was nothing better than to serve as background noise while you went about your normal daily tasks and catch the glimpses of information that you may bring in some conversation with your acquaintances someday. However, all that has changed. Documentaries are actually mainstream media now and are actively watched by millions of people around the world.

According to Esti Prager Miami Beach spa owner, documentaries may have started off on a small rock but that very rock has now transformed into a mountain that is worth reckoning as a rising film industry. Miami Beach continues on to say that several documentaries have a fanbase of their own now and many of these documentaries actually have higher quality than the standard movies we watch today.

So what exactly was the reason behind this sudden rise? What made documentaries rise from the bottom of the film industry? What could be the reason behind the success of an industry whose content was once used as filler content to complete tasks and fulfill television programs? We answer all of these questions in the article below in detail. Read the article till the end so that you don’t end up missing out on crucial details.

The humble beginning of documentaries

The success we attach to documentaries today didn’t originate in the industry from the start. In fact, many people in the cinema industry will tell you that many people didn’t even know what documentaries were until a few years ago. The first documentary that ever came out, Nanook of the North, came out in the early 20th century in 1922 but no one seemed to care about documentaries until the early 21st century, almost 80 years after.

Compare that to the success of the average normal film industry, where commercial movies made for entertainment received a much better response, and you will realize that documentaries received only a bleak portion of the same success. The reason behind this isn’t because documentaries weren’t informative back in the day. On the other hand, they were arguably more informative than today’s documentaries.

No, the real reason behind the failure of documentaries at the box office was because they were presented in the dullest and most straightforward manner possible. It was similar to reading a history book without any illustrations. In comparison to that, old entertainment movies could be considered the cool comic books that every kid wanted to get their hands on.

However, this was to change for the better as documentary directors began realizing this and entirely transformed the way a documentary was presented, acted out, and shot and this made all the difference in the world. Slowly but steadily, a rise of documentaries came and took the film industry by the storm.

The rise

Old documentaries had slow and dull monologues of continuous information which appealed to a very limited number of individuals. However, all that changed in the early 20s when documentaries like Fahrenheit 9/11, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, and Super Size Me were released, each highlighting a different part of society and shedding light on previously unknown aspects of the world.

These documentaries were nothing like before. Sure, they had monologues as well but it was only presented to the audience when it was needed. Instead, the movies provided the audience with various video evidence and presented information in such a way that kept them waiting for more. Finally, documentaries became something that could actually be watched on a Sunday evening with your family or friends.

These movies introduced several elements from the average entertainment movies into these documentaries which gave them a new and unique flavor while watching. There was actual drama and suspense now that kept the watchers hooked to their seats in anticipation. Documentaries were always known to present the truth, but it became their selling point when this truth was presented in such a way that it would appeal even to the most common individual.

Of course, this came at a cost – fictionalization. A lesser-used term before has now become a commonly quoted term for many of today’s bad documentaries that stray away from the actual truth too much while dramatizing the story for the audience. But many critics would agree that if it weren’t for a little bit of dramatization, documentaries would still be stuck in their old shell of boredom and regularity.

Reasons behind the rise

Source: newrepublic.com

There are several reasons behind the rise of documentaries and, spoiler alert, they don’t focus solely on the increase of production quality. However, it is true that one of the most crucial reasons why documentaries are so popular now is because their production quality rose multifold which attracted more people to watch the movie.

Documentaries didn’t stick to one genre, such as geography or history. No, they started exploring more and more different genres to accommodate the various needs of their audience. Take Blackfish, for example, which showed an entirely new perspective on how orcas held in captivity were treated and how their world was like.

But saying documentaries became more popular just because of the sole reason for their production quality is quite untrue because there are other significant reasons as well. One of the other major reasons why people choose to watch documentaries is because it provides them with knowledge and perspective that they haven’t seen before.

In a world where politicians and officers would rather prefer to spew a continuous barrage of lies than expose the truth to their people, several people have found documentaries to be a fresh change from their reality. Additionally, several platforms like Netflix have understood this preference of the people and are working to release more and more documentaries at a rate never seen before which has only helped in their growth.


While documentaries may have started from humble beginnings, they have become one of the most influential markets now and will continue to do so in the near future. We hope this article was insightful for you and if it was, please consider following our website for regular updates as it will help us out immensely.