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May 30, 2007

Still thinking...?

I'm not breaking any news by saying that Hollywood has run out of ideas. It's become a cliché, and I think most of us just shrug it off when we hear it.

What does shock me, however, is just how stunningly true it's become. A look at this list of the top films highest grossing films since the year 2000 from boxofficereport.com may stun you, as it did me. Of the top 20 films listed, a whole two are original (Shrek and Finding Nemo). TWO! All of the rest are works that are either sequels, remakes, book or graphic novel adaptations, or some combination of those.

Compare that to the 90s, and the number balloons to 12. The 80s? 13. I count 16 for the 70s, though my knowledge of the origins for all of the films may not be totally accurate.

This can be looked at one of two ways. The first way is the Chicken Little approach: CHAOS! MAYHEM! CATASTROPHE! The sky is falling!

The second way is a bit more logical, and looks more pragmatically at why this is the case. It looks at who is going to the movies these days and why, and which films end up as the top grossers.

It's no secret that Hollywood makes its money in summer and caters to Oscar in the fall and winter. Accordingly, those late year films are geared towards an older crowd, whereas the summer films are aimed at the prized younger demographic. As market research and analytics grow exponentially (the Internet doesn't hurt), so does Hollywood's understanding of exactly what to make, when to put it out, and where to release it. If the younger folks continue watching just about anything fed to them (I'm guilty of this as well - see this week's review of Pirates of the Caribbean for evidence of this), what incentive is there for Hollywood to come up with new ideas when blockbuster season comes around? After all, it's much easier to take an established brand (i.e., G.I. Joe) and craft a script and some special effects around it than it is to come up with something entirely original. Thrown in the added time and effort, not to mention the diminished risk with the brand, and it's a no-brainer.

In the end, we the consumers are the guiltiest parties. By continuing to line up in droves for "meh" material such as Spider-Man 3 and POTC: At World's End, we are reinforcing Hollywood's negative behavior. So join me in looking into the object at right when thinking about how unoriginal Hollywood has become.

(It should be noted that in no way am I saying that all adaptations are bad and all original material is good. After all, some of the best movies of the past few years [Children of Men, V for Vendetta, and 300 to name a handful] were adapted from a book or graphic novel. So there's certainly not a hard-and-fast rule. However, there is more than likely a strong correlation between remakes and badness, especially when TV is involved.)

2 people have chosen wisely: on "Still thinking...?"

The NOVA Report said...

Yeah, but movies have been adapted from written work since the beginning of the medium. Looking at the ten highest grossing films (adjusted for inflation) of all-time, there are five adaptions (Gone with the wind, Snow White, The Ten Commandments, Lords of the Ring and Hary Potter) and two historical-fiction movies (Ben-Hur and Titanic). Hollywood's been running out of ideas since they've started making movies. Hell, Birth of a Nation was adapted from The Klansman.


Fletch said...

That's a good point, and I probably should have been a bit more focused with my ire, as adaptations from written material don't bug me nearly as much as the endless parade of TV adaptations, sequels, remakes, and sequels to remakes.

There are certainly varying degrees of success (the Ocean's series is certainly a rare exception), and some films straddle multiple "genres" (Harry Potter/LOTR films) are both adaptations and have sequels, but overall it just all seems to be getting dramatically worse.