First off, you can still believe that the original trilogy are good, or even brilliant, films while also acknowledging the damage that they did. I like to compare it to Nirvana. Some believe they were a good band (Not my opinion) that inspired an entire generation of insipid post-grunge bands. It's not really Nirvana's fault, but we can see where the stem of the issue was. If we wanted to point to a true date of when cinema started getting bad, it would probably be 1985, with 1986's Top Gun being the nightmarish vision of the future. Yes, I realize that many films aren't made in the United States, but even foreign film output was diminishing by the late 1980's, leading to filmmakers like Lars Von Trier, who have to stir up controversy every time they release an art film just so it gets people to see it. On top of that, all one has to do is peruse the top-grossing films of European and Asian countries to know that big Hollywood blockbusters, including Star Wars, are the most popular films in the world. No, box office isn't a measure of quality, but it speaks to the influence blockbusters have. And the truth is, before Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977), the blockbuster didn't exist. For the past 40 years, every film has tried to be Star Wars. Star Wars was the first time that toy merchandising became out of control. The Empire Strikes Back inspired a generation of unnecessary sequels, Return of the Jedi introduced a trilogy system that, while working for Star Wars, is wholly unnecessary for most films. Pulpy forms of fiction such as horror, science fiction and fantasy now dominate film, coming off the 1960's, when foreign film was at its peak, and the early 1970's, when American films were becoming foreignesque in their themes and character studies. But if we return to the comparison of popular music, though many say recorded music died in the late 80's (Interestingly it has the same trajectory as film) you can still see the decline coming by the mid-to-late 70's. Arena Rock bands like Foreigner and Boston were surely the first cracks before the foundation collapsed. The same is true for film. Perhaps bad art films like The Missouri Breaks (1976) made people yearn for something like Star Wars. But the point is that if we look at the world of cinema pre-Star Wars and Post Star Wars, it's clear that pre-Star Wars films are superior - especially in the 1940's and 1950's, when American AND foreign film were regularly producing masterpieces. Whether you concede that Star Wars was the beginning of the end for cinema, you must concede that it's at least dead now. Film attendance is all but dead. I don't even go anymore unless I go see a classic film (Up until 1985) projected on 35mm film. It's the easy answer, but it's true: the home viewing experience has won. A Netflix original film was recently booed at the Cannes Film Festival because the film industry now sees this. But, in the end, the film industry only has themselves to blame. Streaming services are creating interesting new content and the film industry has been trying to copy Star Wars for the past 40 years.