We’ve all spent some time with the movie rework blues, and today I have a guest post for you from Chris Kavan of FilmCrave.com, who takes a look at the state of Hollywood and it’s general lack of originality. Take a look, enjoy, and think about putting your monetary votes behind some more interesting players.
According to Box Office Mojo as it currently stands these are the top ten grossing films of 2011 thus far:
1- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
3- The Hangover: Part II
6- Cars 2
9- Captain America: The First Avenger
10- Kung Fu Panda 2
So, out of the top ten there are seven films that are either sequels or part of a franchise and two films based on comic books, which leaves only one wholly original film left standing: Bridesmaids. Granted, this is nothing new – glancing through the past five or ten years, you’ll see the top 10 to 20 films dominated by the exact same kinds of films: those based around existing franchises or those adapted from other media: comics, books and even video games.
Hollywood is much more likely to drop $50-$100 million on a project knowing it has an established audience. Characters like James Bond, Sherlock Holmes and Superman are a draw because so many people are familiar with them. On the chance they do go with an original idea, it is often spun off into a franchise: Pirates of the Caribbean, The Fast and the Furious even Final Destination – once a movie becomes remotely popular, chances are you’ll be hearing about it again in a year or two.
Those looking to find something wholly original in the mainstream market better hope a big name decides to take a chance on an original film (like Inception) or that something on the festival circuit gets a huge buzz (The Kids Are All Right). Otherwise your chances of seeing something different depends on how close you are to a major city that shows limited releases, or if you happen to have an art house theater. Unfortunately for most people, they most likely had a better chance at seeing Hoodwinked Too than Midnight in Paris this year.
That’s not to say these kind of films are a total bust. You have Christopher Nolan’s excellent take on Batman and, love or hate them, you cannot deny that Harry Potter and Twilight drive in huge audiences, but one has to wonder what the face of cinema would look like if TV shows and remakes were suddenly off limits.
While Hollywood might be worried about taking chances, if things are going to change, audiences need to be willing to step outside their comfort zone as well. While I can’t claim I’ve seen nearly as many films as I want to this year, three out of my top five films of 2011 are original films: Super 8, I Saw the Devil and Source Code. Yes, all those films might use elements from other films, but at least they’re new takes on those elements. Not every original film this year has been good: Sucker Punch was a letdown as was Cowboys & Aliens. A movie doesn’t even need a massive budget – Insidious managed to hit nearly $54 million, and out-performed Scream 4’s lackluster $38 million showing.
While there is plenty of originality left, those films don’t get nearly the recognition they deserve. All the films getting attention – the next Batman, The Avengers, The Hunger Games, what the new Superman and Spider-man looks like – are everything that’s wrong with movies. Hollywood wants the next Twilight or Harry Potter; they want big-budget super heroes to rake in the cash. The population is bombarded with stories, commercials, trailers and rumors regarding every aspect of these films; so much so that they feel compelled to see them. It’s hard to avoid the hype – I know I read everything I can about World War Z mainly because I’m loved the book and have been dying for news ever since it was announced – but because of this hype, so many great films are ignored and overlooked it’s tragic.
When it comes right down to it, the sad fact is that for the last decade, things have been working out pretty well this way and, as long as the formula works, I don’t see Hollywood changing their minds about it anytime soon. We may not be able to change the formula, but we can change our attitudes. Stop reading into the hype and seek out something different. Your local theater not playing what you want? Tell them about it. Stay in and rent something new instead of seeing the latest remake. If change is going to start, it may as well begin now.
Chris Kavan owns more reboots, remakes, sequels and adaptations then he cares to admit and he’s also the Community Manager for FilmCrave.com, the leader in Top Action Movie Lists.