These days, it seems most of what’s slung onto our screens has been done before. Last year alone saw cinemas spammed with more Star Wars, more Harry Potter, more Mission Impossible, heaps of Marvel movies, another Jurassic World and a fourth rendition of A Star is Born. Hollywood appears to be habitually rehashing, rebooting and remaking the same old stories. But is this down to laziness and a hunger for easy money? Or is it a deeper problem, have all the original ideas been taken?
If you take a look at 2018’s top 20 box office performances, all but 3 are either a sequel, a remake, or part of a franchise, with no original films in the top 10. It’s easy to see why Hollywood loves its formulas when they rake in such vast sums of money. But casting a glance at the recent BAFTA awards, we see how abundantly original films are peppered through the award categories, with predominantly original films (Roma, The Favourite, Green Book, Bohemian Rhapsody and BlacKkKlansman) taking home the big awards. So clearly, successful new movies are being made, but studios are often unwilling to take the gamble.
This exhibits how franchises can provide a safe platform for studios to take new leaps and experiment, but unfortunately, they rarely break from they’re tried and tested process
That’s not to say that franchise films can’t be as good as original films, Black Panther for example, gained popularity among both critics and audiences, and received a handful of award nominations. This exhibits how franchises can provide a safe platform for studios to take new leaps and experiment, but unfortunately, they rarely break from they’re tried and tested process. With a steady stream of formulaic instalments, we end up with a series of almost identical films allowing audiences again and again to enjoy the same thrills they had the first-time round.
Another trend in the movie business now, is rebooting. It’s easy, you just flick through old series, find one that was successful, slap on a slightly different name (i.e. change Park to World) and do the whole thing all over again. Nostalgia is the stock and trade of Hollywood at the moment, and studios bank on the fact that people will pay good money to relive something they adored in their youth. Recent films only just manage to hold themselves up on the crutch of old characters and ideas, generic movies with little genuine quality are churned out, but still, they make money. Studios have deep problems in their attitudes towards storytelling. After all, films are stories, and the constant rebooting of once complete series can ruin amazing films for the sake of money (the Star Wars prequels come to mind).
I hope that audiences will tire of seeing the same movies again and again, and that Hollywood will be forced to allocate more time and energy to everything it creates
I like to think the laziness of the movie industry is unsustainable, I hope that audiences will tire of seeing the same movies again and again, and that Hollywood will be forced to allocate more time and energy to everything it creates. But as long as franchises continue to outperform original ideas at the box office, there is no reason for the industry to change. The reluctance to innovate, to push and search for fresh veins of creativity risks leading to stagnation in the film industry. Every successful movie franchise began its life as an original film, and if movies are to continue to impact audiences so heavily, then studios must dig into their courage and imagination.