Short of the Week

Has Hollywood Lost its Way?

Article / January 5, 2012

We love short films, but we also follow the larger film industry and how the web is changing how we watch films.

Much has been said over the last few days about the bleak year for theatrical films with year-end box office sales down 3.8% compared to last year and attendance down 4.7% (Box Office Mojo). But there’s been less coverage of a bigger problem looming over the film industry—one that would be hard to blame on a bad year—the growing scarcity of original stories coming from Hollywood.

Hollywood is closing its doors on original stories.

In small ways, we’re all aware of it. We’ve all seen a preview and asked ourselves, “Another sequel?” And yet it’s still staggering to take a step back and see just how bad the situation has become.

 

And if that isn’t frightening enough, the success of The Lion King 3D is already kicking off what may become a new creative low—re-releases. The Lion King 3D, at a cost to Disney of less than $10M, took in nearly $100M—not a bad ROI for a struggling industry. Titanic, Beauty and the Beast, and Star Wars, all planned for 2012 releases, may mark the dawn of an era of blockbuster re-releases as Hollywood longs for its glory days.

Why is this happening?

At first, you might think box office numbers are down because of all these unoriginal films. But that’s actually backwards. In fact, unoriginal movies are being made BECAUSE numbers are down. Let me explain:

Hollywood filmmaking is an investment business—studios give money to filmmakers hoping to make more money back. Now put yourself in the shoes of an investor. When times are good, you have extra cash flowing in, and you can invest in riskier investments where many fail but a few hit big.

But when times are tight, one failed investment can sink you, so you’re more inclined to turn to safer investments. And in movies, the safest investment you can make is in either a sequel or a story built from an existing franchise with a large fan base. In other words, making a sequel is Hollywood’s way of playing it safe. Because right now, original stories are just too risky.

How difficult is it to get an original story made in Hollywood today? Even director Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight) had a difficult time getting Inception made (The Day the Movies Died by Mark Harris). That’s how hard it is.

Now I hate to say “Hollywood” like it’s one entity because in reality it’s made up of people, some of which are very talented and inventive people who want to tell great, original stories. But like many other industries facing the speed and transformative power of the web, its size and bureaucracy have made the film industry slow to recognize and react to change.

But, it’s not the end.

Despite all the prophecies, this won’t mark the end of Hollywood or the film industry as we know it. In fact, filmmaking is more important now than ever. Roger Ebert said it best in his recent article on the current state of the industry that, “Americans love the movies as much as ever. It’s the theaters that are losing their charm.”

It only takes a few minutes with Facebook, Kickstarter, and Vimeo to see that movies and storytelling are fast becoming the preferred way of understanding this complex world.

Broaden your view.

To someone like me, who wants to tell stories for a living, or someone like my compatriot, Jason, who watches stories for a living, all this change means looking broader. Theatrical may no longer be the place to bring a grand vision to the public. Those “risky” original stories are more and more being told elsewhere on television and in new media formats like branded and interactive films.

I once dreamed of making a feature film. Now I’m building a company around creative tools. Look beyond the standard model.

Short films will lead the way.

We can’t know what making and watching films will look like in 10 years, but whatever becomes the dominant model, it’s likely to make its first appearance in a short film. Always a testing ground, short films are where the most interesting new models are being explored today. Filmmakers like Spike Jonze and Chris Milk are experimenting with new formats and distribution models with shorts like We Were Once a Fairy Tale, I’m Here, and The Wilderness Downtown.

We’re in the hazy stage where the old structures are falling and new ones are yet to be built. The landscape is open. Go explore it.

 

***************************

UPDATE: MARCH 29, 2012

We’re getting more traffic to this article now so I’m going to address a few of the issues that have come up:

1. For the chart, I created 3 distinct categories of films: SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (sequels, prequels, remakes, franchises) ADAPTED = characters/story from a previous work (book, comic, play) ORIGINAL = new characters/story written for this film. Sure you could break the categories down further, but that becomes more difficult to read—what’s more ‘original’ a prequel or a franchise? This keeps it clear. Some movies are technically both adaptations and sequels (Harry Potter 8)—but let’s be honest, they’re sequels. If we’ve seen these characters and plot points on film before, it’s a sequel.

2. Don’t make the judgement that sequels = bad, original = good. There are great sequels (The Godfather Part 2, The Dark Knight) and there are some terrible original films (Kazam anyone?). The point of this article is that original theatrical films are becoming less and less popular. “Are movies getting worse?” That’s a different discussion.

3. Forget exceptions. This is a discussion about trends. Don’t bother bringing up that one film that bucked the trends that one year. Yes, Avatar was an original film that made a lot of money. But you’ll be ignoring the 7 other sequels and adaptations that year. Keep a broader view.

4. Why these years? Simple. I took the most recent year, 2011 and went back every 10 years as far as online databases would go. Data will be different for different years, but the broader view is not likely to change. If anyone wants to do the full 30+ year history, that would awesome…

~
Andrew makes no attempt to hide his love for the magic art of animation. He appreciates compelling visuals but never forgets that in this modern age, a strong story always reigns supreme. You can see his work at andrewsallen.com or his latest film The Thomas Beale Cipher.
  • http://www.facebook.com/ericgoetz Eric Goetz

    Nice, Andrew.  I agree that the unoriginal content stems from low box office numbers, not the other way around.

    The only thing I would add to your summary is the importance of premium television (or episodic shorts, if you prefer a more generic term).  It seems like where the feature theatrical film my have peaked, as an art film, premium television (meaning HBO, AMC, and the occasional FOX show) is perhaps better than ever.  Now that television is approaching theatrical features’ production values, storytelling and acting, my form is now the three act 42-56 minute dramatic serial episodic format.More importantly, due to all the investment reasons you give above, building franchises will still be important.  I would content that episodic structures have been generally more successful at fresh creative story-telling than movie/sequel/reboot franchises.  I don’t know enough about the business, but it seems the financial model would be superior, as well.

  • http://twitter.com/kung_fuelvis kung_fuelvis

    This truly is a great piece of writing Andrew – it’s concise, well researched and expertly structured, I really like the way it almost slips into infographic territory early on.

    I’ve touched on the state of Hollywood in couple of posts on Foreign language films and their Hollywood remakes in the past, but nothing that went as deep as this piece delves into the current condition of the film industry.

    Now stop make the rest of look us bad!

  • Yelahneb

    I love you guys, but It’s = It is.  When showing possession for the gender neutral “it”, no apostrophe is used.

  • Yelahneb

    I love you guys, but It’s = It is.  When showing possession for the gender neutral “it”, no apostrophe is used.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Yet even AMC, with it’s stable of hit dramas is experiencing financial troubles, playing hardball with Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Premium TV content needs premium production,   which is outgrowing advertising’s ability to support. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Yet even AMC, with it’s stable of hit dramas is experiencing financial troubles, playing hardball with Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Premium TV content needs premium production,   which is outgrowing advertising’s ability to support. 

  • http://razasyed.org/ Raza Syed

    “Shrek,” adapted from William Steig’s “Shrek!” is incorrectly labeled as an “original.” And for some reason “Father of the Bride,” a remake of a 1950 film, is labeled “original” while “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Planet of the Apes,” also remakes, are identified as “sequels.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    ah damn. yeah that’s an easy one I always overlook.

  • Tom Jane

    Might want to change the title to from its current one to “Has Hollywood Lost Its Way” — no apostrophe between the “t” and “s” of “Its”. This article is way too good to be justifiably discredited because nobody taught you how to use proper grammar. Get it right (get it tight).

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    ah.but there are actually at least 3 additional typos. see if you can spot them!

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Thanks Raza, for finding those 2 corrections.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=880725270 Ugo Gagné

    Well i’m not in the industry at all. I’m a regular viewer. I miss original stories as much as good, well laid out adaptations of novels. My first remark is that many recent movies are just too long and the content at best filmsy (not that its a reference but the last brew of transformers is 154 minutes, thats 2h34 of 3d, boobs, and too long battles. I would have enjoyed it for what it was a 90 minutes movie instead.)

    Second point is on the theaters.Seeing a movie was, for me, an experience – not only of the story, the picture and the music – bit also a special place called the theater. I feel that theaters are no longer interesting destinations : they are bland, overpriced, soul less and not fit for storytelling (except a few select spots).

    Now the web has made it easy for us to download and watch movies at home, for cheap or free. Not saying it’s good or bad, but it is reality. 
    I find that I love to watch short films online. http://mubi.com/ is a great spot amongst others. see, with the democratization of  the tools required to produce a fine picture, we have storytellers who can produce they’re own stuff on a very low budget and make it available the next day on various platform. A short 12 minutes clip with a great story decent photography and amazing sound is as good if not better than a full feature to me.

    As the full feature model get pushed aside for a well deserved rest we can only expect a new wave of motion pictures to entertain us. I predict a sort of revival of the full feature film in a bout 30 years. Lets talk about it then ^^

    I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Ugo

    edit : a short film reference can also be this very site which i’m just discovering now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vojislav.dzukic Vojislav Dzukic

    the dromological efect that is achived with todays film technology is fault for not having any more author film in hollywood there is no need for a story people are fascinated with visual transcedence from this world

    peace out

    V

  • http://twitter.com/shortsnotpants James McNally

    Both depressing and inspiring. By which I mean, thank you for this thought-provoking article. I’m also hopeful that the falling costs of production and the ability to crowd-fund and self-distribute won’t force short filmmakers into making features too soon, or at all. It would be great to see someone really build a sustainable career as a short filmmaker, making creative and original work and being able to make a living at it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ericgoetz Eric Goetz

    Good point, Jason.  The focus should be on story, rather than expensive vfx.  My main point was that episodic forms contain many desirable traits.  On a related note, I wish “web-series” wasn’t synonymous with “day in the life comedy with an indie feel”.  The form could be so much more than just Guild-knockoffs.

  • Liliemei

    Actually, to me, yet another story-addict who fancies herself as a future failed feature-writer, the core problem remains once and for all the lack of appeal generated by uncharacterized poorly narrated atmosphereless excruciatingly too long for nothing because unbuilt films that Hollywood and co vomit in our viewers’ eyes every year.
    First instance, the voiceover narration: it’s not a book, it’s a movie. If you need to tell, it means you don’t show. Now I don’t mind it occasionally, when it actually adds to the thing whether emotionally or in strengthening the characterization (see In America) but lately it’s been abused in oh too many occurrences (you know them when you see them) if not to drag the whole piece down with overweight yet empty artificial narration then only to play the cheap humour card where something visual (yes it does require upscaled writing skills) and more elaborate than basic standup comedy would have brought a tremendously greater pay-off (see Septien and that genius shot where the hero peers over kids playing in the park, (mis?)leading the viewer into thinking he’s a pedo… yep, trying not to spoil).
    Second, under the apparently legitimate pretence of conveying vicarious emotions, they shove down our throats a douchy blend of unchallenging consensuous feely-feely bullshit (sorry, French) as in what they expect us to want to feel. I for one don’t watch a movie regardless of its length or make (brand, citizenship, political inspiration, call it what you may) to feel what I want to feel. That’s bad marketing, at best. Worse! When they actually leave it to you to decide ( as opposed to interprete) what you want to see (see Inception: if you want the spinning top to wobble and fall, press 1, if you want it to wobble dangerously long enough to give you a thrill and then start spinning again so you’ve actually seen the movie you paid for, everybody’s happy nobody’s disappointed we live in Disneyland, press 2… you know what I mean).
    Third would be dull lazy visual narrative styles, as in facial (over)reaction shots, (please!) and attention-stirring extreme close-ups, when you stop assuming people are too dumb to get it maybe they’ll start bothering trying not to be.

    Now I do realize I’m not your typical every day viewer in that I hate theaters because my prime goal when I go is to see a film, not execute foreplays or bear with the miscellaneous indiscretions of pigs raised by wolves who think the world is their living-room (phones, food and whatnot you wouldn’t expect anywhere near a person’s mouth, and yet…).
    With the crazy increase in price I’ve been led to checking my movies out first (as in test-riding them at home and making the sacrifice only when I know it’s worth it), so  needless to say I’d be a big fan of re-releasing if only they would re-release whatever actually is worth it (as in not Titanic, I haven’t seen it and I won’t, don’t bother, I’m not prejudiced here I know myself that’s all. James Cameron being one of my most widely used examples of way too long for nothing among other disparaging things). And I don’t mind length when it works (It’s a mad mad mad mad world to name but one, 192 min original version, not a split second to cut, I don’t wanna see the edit I honestly can’t even begin to think how they did it). What I mind is making movies longer without adding any substance whatsoever just so people feel like it was worth the rip-off, paradoxically when the viewer’s attention-span seems to zoom out of shot (why else ads every ten minutes and the spike in very short programs? )

    Naturally to find that substance I’ve been one to turn to whatchacallem serials, and observing the same crucially selective scrutiny as regarding full-length features, believe it or not the good-to-bad ratio (as in what’s not a matter of taste) is just about alike, maybe a little more write-as-you-shoot latence there, but the good direction makes up for it, or is it that I’m more inclined towards indulgence because they’re not so pompous with their “director’s cut” and all? Generally when a tv show’s not as good as expected you tend to not mind it as much because you didn’t have to  lift your lazy ass out of the couch and pay a fortune (so you think coz you don’t cough it out on the spot), and mostly because you just zap and you’re on to the next low-level brain-removal program brought to you by people who mean you well.

    So with all the competition that watching home for free (albeit in lessened quality) provides, my mind definitely bends towards stepping up the plate and as ever quality over quantity and the highest common denominator possible but I highly doubt that’s a lesson humanity will in time feel partial to.  You know, like with food, eat less but better, create legitimate quality labels that people can actually trust (hell, let Tarantino or Brad Pitt do it, as ineluctably in times of crisis, charisma’s the word, give ‘em the face) and why not actually advertise raising talents instead of flooding the market with knock-offs of knock-offs of knock-offs (Fast and Furious 5, really?).

    Of course the solution lies in the alternative, be it short, independent, different, or just good, for a change, that would be refreshing. The solution lies in not letting the market direct your conduct but your conduct (theirs, really, as in the decision-makers, as in the wallet-holders) actually making the market. Panicking and freezing won’t help things get better, as previously seen with the banks. But here again, knowing that it’s not the easiest and most immediate tactical answer to the matter at hand, they will wait for someone else to provide the required critical response and just benefit from it. But judging by the path we’re headed down on socially on a global scale, people are going to need escape routes more than ever. They’re not just about to stop watching, maybe Hollywood has to accept they shouldn’t make such indecent amounts of money out of it.(yeah, like hell!)

  • Virduk

    All that says to me is that cinema goers would rather watch sequels etc than original content. Has the number of original content films in the U.S. dropped? Or just the most popular ones?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    I agree about the advantages of serial storytelling. I came from anime fandom in my formative years, where the 13 hour self-contained story was the dominant form, and I’m happy t see that expand into America. I often remark to people that I really just don’t watch films anymore, its either top-shelf TV or short media.

    So I think there is good potential for web series too, however I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I find that live-action narrative short film is the single most difficult type of media for me to program here or at Vimeo. It either is disqualified by looking bad, or (more often) disqualified because the writing and acting simply aren’t there. I don’t have enough strong live-action narrative films as it is, and a the prospect of a web series seems to be a compounding of that difficulty. 

  • Bystander

    The facts above are accurate, but the problem is with the business model and the MBA’s at the top. they are trained to be risk averse and to avoid risk at all costs. In that context, sequels, adaptations, remakes and re-releases will ALWAYS be less risk than original content — not just in bad economic times. It is not solely because of sequels that box office is down, but they do not help in the long run. When there is nothing new or surprising to see on the big screen, audiences go elsewhere — forcing Hollywood to take LESS risk and making the problem worse because the rehash more of the once-successful franchises. Studio execs are NOT trained to recognize great stories, they are trained in business and so only recognize success after the fact. The bottom line is there can be no great reward with some risk, and Hollywood has not found the balance between risk and reward recently — since the decision makers are only trained in business risk, not story-risk or what creatively visionary things are worth betting on.  When Hollywood and other American industries start to understand creative vision and how to foster it and take calculated risks on it — you’ll see the trend reverse itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Yeah, the article touches upon this self-reinforcing spiral—weaker returns encouraging more re-hashing. The makeup of entertainment executives is an interesting hypothesis, though I don’t have any inside knowledge to assert whether it is true or not. 

    I think things have to get worse before they get better. When bean-counters look and see that the top 7 films in box office are sequels, that doesn’t lead them to conclude that sequels are bad, though the point you and Andrew make, that in the long run it DOES hurt the industry, I believe stands. 

  • Liliemei

    I don’t see web series in the short term either, beside amateur privately funded material _ mind you, it can be surprisingly good,  but it will probably lack concept and continuity, mostly as a consequence of being “kids” having fun playing with their new toys. I understand why the investors would think it of a lesser impact value to single out one medium when they can use more, it does sound like a target restraint, especially considering the high costs in live-action.
    I don’t know what MacFarlane’s Cavalcades resulted in regarding the data-gathering side of the experiment in animation, but I salute the initiative. I must admit I was repelled by anime for years because of the flood of soap-like super slow-moving shows, but I find the Japanese to be way more flexible in their formatting and take advantage of the serial aspect to explore different angles in their characterization (like spending three episodes on non-central protagonists before telling the viewer they’re not the heroes, mostly by getting them all killed without any kind of foreshadowing. I know in the West it would be called weak writing, but I found it to be a captivating twist when faced with it).
    I consider short to be the most accomplished narrative format and I deplore its lack of exposition. I was actually wondering why that is. Truth is I came here in the first place looking for certain pieces I’d heard of that are just nowhere and it’s just weird that there wouldn’t be some sort of database. Is this a matter of copyrights or lack of public interest?

  • Sumit Mehta

    Both your article and the Mark Harris piece that it draws from miss one key development in Hollywood- the growing clout of fast money. Just as marketers are driven by formulae, so are hedge funds who are under big pressure to return quick profits to their investors. Maybe its their increasing influence that has resulted in more of this formulaic movie-making? I think so.

  • frankie wild

    Midnight in Paris, 50/50, The Artist, Tree of Life, Anonymous, The Guard, Senna, J.Edgar, Beginners. All great original screenplays and films from last year. Chariots of Fire and On Golden Pond are adaptations. Does anyone really want to sit through “On Golden Pond” Again? The only thing your list shows is that people aren’t willing to go and see Original work, not that it’s not being made, because clearly it is.

  • Matt Leaf

    Makes me think about opening a theatre to display web films. Jumping off your roof for a thrill is certainly a lot different to bungee jumping. But this problem exists across all creative industries, you have to dig into the independents if u want unique content. Web TV is here, but it’s not fully mature yet. Till then why can’t we build new theatres that deal with artists directly, and pay everyone accordingly. After all, all you need is a white square, a projector and a modem.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Who’s to blame? Hollywood or us? is a good question to ask, and one that I didn’t go into it because it’s much more difficult to answer. It’s a tangled mix of both. Sure, Hollywood wants to put out films that we want to watch. Yet, we can’t know what we haven’t seen. There have been many great films over the years like Pixar’s UP that couldn’t have come from an audience focus group. Those of us who believe in film as an art form go to the movies hoping to experience something new and unexpected. We believe the industry has a responsibility beyond giving audiences what they expect to see. Otherwise audiences turn elsewhere—as we’re already starting to see.

    The originals you listed are all great films. So why isn’t Hollywood backing these more? People forget the biggest expense in making a movie is in marketing. And each studio only has so much marketing dollars. How many billboards, magazine ads, and trailers did you see for THE ARTIST or TREE OF LIFE? Saying that people “aren’t willing” to see a movie is ignoring the power of $200m marketing campaigns—not to mention theater distribution numbers. Perhaps a good followup stat would be to look at the amount of marketing and distribution dollars put into sequels vs original films.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    That would be a number worth looking at. Also, how much marketing $ or # of theaters for sequels vs originals. Plenty of interesting info that could be culled—that data is out there. I’m surprised more haven’t done anything with it.

  • frankie wild

    The Thrust of your article was that Hollywood is in creative decline. I dispute this, I think there has never been a time with so many talented Directors working and releasing films in every niche and genre. Shame, Tyrannosaur, Attack the Block, Fire in Babylon, Fast 5, X Men : First Class, War Horse,  Melancholia, Drive, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Ides of March, The Descendants, Rango, TinTin, Hugo, Young Adult. Seriously Good films, not all original but even the sequels this year were excellent. Whatever your “Thing” is, it’s catered for on the cinema screen. I don’t really understand when people deride Hollywood for a lack of creativity. What is it you want to see that’s not out there?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vinay-Pemmasani/1838251958 Vinay Pemmasani

    Vinay PemmasaniCollapse
    I have seen Mr. Frankie  listing some Original films like Midnight in Paris, 50/50, The Artist, Tree of Life, Anonymous, The Guard, Senna, J.Edgar etc.   And said that “people aren’t willing to go and see Original work”. I guess its a false opinion. Because, people who wants to go see these good films are STILL there. however, they can not make any of these SMALL films become a top grosser, because of their genre. HW audience are crazy about “Action Adventure Fantasy” films than any others. Can anyone deny the fact that HW’s most successful and top earner, James Cameron’s ORIGINAL works Avatar and Titanic are still on top of the highest grosser’s list. & How about Nolan’s Inception. People always want to watch something new and 
    original. Being a fan of Avatar, Yes, I would prefer to watch Avatar-2. However, if any 
    other equally brilliant (Big) Original film is showing in the next screen, I would prefer to 
    watch that first. 

  • HCM

    There is no such movie as Harry Potter 9.  Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the 8th movie in the franchise, not the 9th. Just wanted to point that out to give your argument as much validity as possible :)

  • HCM

    There is no such movie as Harry Potter 9.  Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the 8th movie in the franchise, not the 9th. Just wanted to point that out to give your argument as much validity as possible :)

  • Football

    Thor and Captain America aren’t even OC, they are just not sequels…

  • Football

    Thor and Captain America aren’t even OC, they are just not sequels…

  • Jay

    On Golden Pond from 1981 is an adaptation from a play by the same name from 1979.

  • Tomb722

    You may think my comment here is stupid but the Harry Potter franchise doesn’t really count. Harry Potter was always going to have sequels because of the books. I completely agree with everything else in your article. It’s very well written and concise.

  • Idontnoh

    Watch Wings (1927). Pearl Harbor ripped off the entire story. Chalk that one up as a remake. 

  • Idontnoh

    Watch Wings (1927). Pearl Harbor ripped off the entire story. Chalk that one up as a remake. 

  • Nathankc

    I still take issue with the categorization of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It was not a sequel to the 2001 version. It would be more accurate to describe it as part of the franchise started in the late 60′s since it seems to be trying to resurrect THAT cannon.

    Technically a prequel, it may be best to call it an adapted original work based.

  • John

    Well written, enjoyable article. Worth pointing out though that 2(?) years ago the highest grossing film ever was released, and was an original. Also, Inception was a storming original in 2010. 

  • John

    Well written, enjoyable article. Worth pointing out though that 2(?) years ago the highest grossing film ever was released, and was an original. Also, Inception was a storming original in 2010. 

  • nerd_ventures

    AFI Top 10…

    1CITIZEN KANE19412THE GODFATHER19723CASABLANCA19424RAGING BULL19805SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN19526GONE WITH THE WIND19397LAWRENCE OF ARABIA19628SCHINDLER’S LIST19939VERTIGO195810THE WIZARD OF OZ1939
    1) Original
    2) Adaptation (lead to 2 sequels)
    3) Original
    4) Adaptation
    5) Original
    6) Adaptation
    7) Adaptation  8) Adaptation
    9) Adaptation
    10) Adaptation

  • nerd_ventures

    AFI Top 10…

    1CITIZEN KANE19412THE GODFATHER19723CASABLANCA19424RAGING BULL19805SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN19526GONE WITH THE WIND19397LAWRENCE OF ARABIA19628SCHINDLER’S LIST19939VERTIGO195810THE WIZARD OF OZ1939
    1) Original
    2) Adaptation (lead to 2 sequels)
    3) Original
    4) Adaptation
    5) Original
    6) Adaptation
    7) Adaptation  8) Adaptation
    9) Adaptation
    10) Adaptation

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003274483127 Keni Ligrand

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes is its own set of spinoffs, it has no relation to the abomination of a remake from 2001.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003274483127 Keni Ligrand

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes is its own set of spinoffs, it has no relation to the abomination of a remake from 2001.

  • Guest

    If by original you mean make a sci-fi version of pocahontas then sure, it was original.

  • Guest

    If by original you mean make a sci-fi version of pocahontas then sure, it was original.

  • Guest

    If by original you mean make a sci-fi version of pocahontas then sure, it was original.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270053843 Josiah Wray

    You’re an idiot. 

    Harry Potter 9 = 9th Harry Potter movie, it is not a big leap.

    Decent article, not sure if the future is all about short films though..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270053843 Josiah Wray

    You’re an idiot. 

    Harry Potter 9 = 9th Harry Potter movie, it is not a big leap.

    Decent article, not sure if the future is all about short films though..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270053843 Josiah Wray

    You’re an idiot. 

    Harry Potter 9 = 9th Harry Potter movie, it is not a big leap.

    Decent article, not sure if the future is all about short films though..

  • Berj91

    I don’t mind rerelease. I wasn’t old enough to see some of those film being rerelease when they came out, and I find it nice to appreciate them with the full theater experience.

  • Berj91

    I don’t mind rerelease. I wasn’t old enough to see some of those film being rerelease when they came out, and I find it nice to appreciate them with the full theater experience.

  • Berj91

    I don’t mind rerelease. I wasn’t old enough to see some of those film being rerelease when they came out, and I find it nice to appreciate them with the full theater experience.

  • Berj91

    I don’t mind rerelease. I wasn’t old enough to see some of those film being rerelease when they came out, and I find it nice to appreciate them with the full theater experience.

  • Opm881

    No, you are. There are only 7 harry potter books and 8 movies. Deathly Hallows was the only book split into 2 movies. 

  • Hohum

    Yo. Idiot. There is no 9th harry potter movie. The 7th book was split into two parts to make 9. There is not know and will likely never be a 9th movie. 

  • Hohum

    Yo. Idiot. There is no 9th harry potter movie. The 7th book was split into two parts to make 9. There is not know and will likely never be a 9th movie. 

  • Hohum

    Yo. Idiot. There is no 9th harry potter movie. The 7th book was split into two parts to make 9. There is not know and will likely never be a 9th movie. 

  • Hohum

    Yo. Idiot. There is no 9th harry potter movie. The 7th book was split into two parts to make 9. There is not know and will likely never be a 9th movie. 

  • B A S

    there has only been 8 movies in the harry potter series, only book 7/7 was put into 2 parts. source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)

  • B A S

    there has only been 8 movies in the harry potter series, only book 7/7 was put into 2 parts. source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)

  • B A S

    there has only been 8 movies in the harry potter series, only book 7/7 was put into 2 parts. source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)

  • B A S

    there has only been 8 movies in the harry potter series, only book 7/7 was put into 2 parts. source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)

  • Zinkpro45

    There were 8 Harry Potter movies. Actually think about things before you call people names Josiah.

  • Zinkpro45

    There were 8 Harry Potter movies. Actually think about things before you call people names Josiah.

  • Zinkpro45

    There were 8 Harry Potter movies. Actually think about things before you call people names Josiah.

  • Zinkpro45

    There were 8 Harry Potter movies. Actually think about things before you call people names Josiah.

  • Anon

    There were 8 harry potter movies.  There’s no such thing as the ninth harry potter movie.

    Have a nice day asshat. 

  • Anon

    There were 8 harry potter movies.  There’s no such thing as the ninth harry potter movie.

    Have a nice day asshat. 

  • Anon

    There were 8 harry potter movies.  There’s no such thing as the ninth harry potter movie.

    Have a nice day asshat. 

  • Anon

    There were 8 harry potter movies.  There’s no such thing as the ninth harry potter movie.

    Have a nice day asshat. 

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    For the basis of this article, I drew up 3 distinct categories: ORIGINAL = new characters/storyline, ADAPTED = characters/story from another medium (eg. book), SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (prequels, sequels, franchises)

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    For the basis of this article, I drew up 3 distinct categories: ORIGINAL = new characters/storyline, ADAPTED = characters/story from another medium (eg. book), SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (prequels, sequels, franchises)

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    For the basis of this article, I drew up 3 distinct categories: ORIGINAL = new characters/storyline, ADAPTED = characters/story from another medium (eg. book), SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (prequels, sequels, franchises)

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    For the basis of this article, I drew up 3 distinct categories: ORIGINAL = new characters/storyline, ADAPTED = characters/story from another medium (eg. book), SEQUEL = characters/story from a previous film (prequels, sequels, franchises)

  • Lou

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

    Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets (2002)
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)Yep. There are definitely 9 Harry Potter movies. No question about it.

  • Lou

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

    Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets (2002)
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)Yep. There are definitely 9 Harry Potter movies. No question about it.

  • Lou

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

    Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets (2002)
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)Yep. There are definitely 9 Harry Potter movies. No question about it.

  • Relax

    There are 7 Harry Potter stories. The 7th was split in 2, for a total of 8. Relax

  • Relax

    There are 7 Harry Potter stories. The 7th was split in 2, for a total of 8. Relax

  • Relax

    There are 7 Harry Potter stories. The 7th was split in 2, for a total of 8. Relax

  • Lou

    Also, apparently it didn’t like my formatting. Oh well.

  • Lou

    Also, apparently it didn’t like my formatting. Oh well.

  • Lou

    Also, apparently it didn’t like my formatting. Oh well.

  • Lexa

    HCM is correct. There are only 8 Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Harry Potter 9 does not exist, and very likely wont for a large number of years if at all (at least to my knowledge). Check your facts before calling someone an idiot. 

  • Lexa

    HCM is correct. There are only 8 Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Harry Potter 9 does not exist, and very likely wont for a large number of years if at all (at least to my knowledge). Check your facts before calling someone an idiot. 

  • Lexa

    HCM is correct. There are only 8 Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Harry Potter 9 does not exist, and very likely wont for a large number of years if at all (at least to my knowledge). Check your facts before calling someone an idiot. 

  • Lexa

    HCM is correct. There are only 8 Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, and Harry potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Harry Potter 9 does not exist, and very likely wont for a large number of years if at all (at least to my knowledge). Check your facts before calling someone an idiot. 

  • K2

    Uh, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the 8th (and final) Harry Potter movie, as HCM noted above. There are only eight movies in the series so “Harry Potter 9″ is a misnomer.  

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Potter_(film_series)  Please check your facts before calling someone else an idiot, lest you reveal your own idiocy…

  • Love these stories

    HBOs big series right now Game of Thrones is an adaption, as is AMCs Walking Dead. Ill give you Mad Men and Breaking BAd though. And Im not complaining about the adaptions, there is nothing wrong with adaptions, we love em when they are well written and we arent being charged an arm and a leg to see em. 

  • Love these stories

    HBOs big series right now Game of Thrones is an adaption, as is AMCs Walking Dead. Ill give you Mad Men and Breaking BAd though. And Im not complaining about the adaptions, there is nothing wrong with adaptions, we love em when they are well written and we arent being charged an arm and a leg to see em. 

  • Adrian

    Don’t blame Hollywood for the fact that in the end, it runs like a business. They release what people pay to watch. Don’t like the number of unoriginal films being released? Don’t watch them. 

    That being said, it’s not like adaptations and sequels can’t push the boundaries of cinema. Lord of the Rings was a massive success because Peter Jackson showed you can bring originality and vision to adaptations without sacrificing the integrity of the original work. Adapting a previous work is not a sacrifice of cinematic integrity or originality, as the author of this article suggests. Many adaptations have become more important to cinema than they were to literature. Jurassic Park, The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, To Kill a Mockingbird, American Psycho, The Shawshank Redemption, True Grit, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Schindler’s List were all adaptations. 
    So please, stop being pretentious and implying that adaptations cannot equate to great, original cinema. 

  • mc1964

    It’s less the death of originality as it is an epidemic of sequelitis. It’s not a recent
    trend (James Bond, Tarzan, Sherlock Holmes, off the top of my head), but it’s now
    becoming the standard rather than the exception. One recent trend that’s popping
    up more and more is the adaptation of TV shows. Did we really need a big screen 
    version of Starsky and Hutch or The A Team?

  • 123

    its because people have bad taste. in EVERYTHING. why do you think Katy Perry, Bieiber, Michael Bay are all laughing all the way to the bank? its because whatever they make sells, because most people have the WORST taste in everything.

  • Anonymous

    People want movies to be like TV; episodic and epic on scale. You can’t do that with just a 2 hour film.

  • Anonymous

    Read the idiotic pissing match below about the number of Harry Potter movies and realize that Hollywood gives us the derivative shit we deserve.

  • DB

    If you think Avatar was an original story you must not have heard about Fern Gully or Pocahontas. 

  • DB

    If you think Avatar was an original story you must not have heard about Fern Gully or Pocahontas. 

  • DB

    If you think Avatar was an original story you must not have heard about Fern Gully or Pocahontas. 

  • no one

     apparently you can’t count, either.

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Also arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding movies. As–though it pains me–is Twit 4.

    Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels.

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Also arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding movies. As–though it pains me–is Twit 4.

    Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels.

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Also arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding movies. As–though it pains me–is Twit 4.

    Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels.

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Also arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding movies. As–though it pains me–is Twit 4.

    Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels.

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Also arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding movies. As–though it pains me–is Twit 4.

    Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels.

  • Y2kh8r

    Planet of the apes was not a new franchise in 2001. 

    We have to go deeper…

  • Y2kh8r

    Planet of the apes was not a new franchise in 2001. 

    We have to go deeper…

  • Y2kh8r

    Planet of the apes was not a new franchise in 2001. 

    We have to go deeper…

  • Y2kh8r

    Planet of the apes was not a new franchise in 2001. 

    We have to go deeper…

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Ocean’s Eleven is not a sequel, it is an adaption of the Rat Pack version. Ocean’s 12 and 13 were the sequels.

    Also, arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as
    much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding
    movies. So is For Your Eyes Only, as it is combines the plots of two short stories from Ian Flemming’s anthology of the same name.  As–though it pains me–is Twit 4. Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels. If you’re going to argue Harry Potter 8 is a sequel vice adaptation, then so too should be Captain America and Thor as they are set in the same universe as Iron Man and are linked via  common elements in the story lines.

    In your effort to distill complexity into simple terms it seems as though you have chosen to put all the ambiguous cases into the categories which best support your thesis.

     

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Ocean’s Eleven is not a sequel, it is an adaption of the Rat Pack version. Ocean’s 12 and 13 were the sequels.

    Also, arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as
    much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding
    movies. So is For Your Eyes Only, as it is combines the plots of two short stories from Ian Flemming’s anthology of the same name.  As–though it pains me–is Twit 4. Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels. If you’re going to argue Harry Potter 8 is a sequel vice adaptation, then so too should be Captain America and Thor as they are set in the same universe as Iron Man and are linked via  common elements in the story lines.

    In your effort to distill complexity into simple terms it seems as though you have chosen to put all the ambiguous cases into the categories which best support your thesis.

     

  • Anonymous

    On Golden Pond won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay yet is listed as an original.

    Ocean’s Eleven is not a sequel, it is an adaption of the Rat Pack version. Ocean’s 12 and 13 were the sequels.

    Also, arguing semantics, (Deathly Hallows Pt2) Harry Potter 8 is as
    much an adaptation of the book as it is a sequel to the preceding
    movies. So is For Your Eyes Only, as it is combines the plots of two short stories from Ian Flemming’s anthology of the same name.  As–though it pains me–is Twit 4. Contrast these to Fast Five and Hangover 2 which are purely sequels. If you’re going to argue Harry Potter 8 is a sequel vice adaptation, then so too should be Captain America and Thor as they are set in the same universe as Iron Man and are linked via  common elements in the story lines.

    In your effort to distill complexity into simple terms it seems as though you have chosen to put all the ambiguous cases into the categories which best support your thesis.

     

  • I-am-kazam

    You shut your whore mouth about KAZAM!

  • I-am-kazam

    You shut your whore mouth about KAZAM!

  • I-am-kazam

    You shut your whore mouth about KAZAM!

  • Guest

    Yeah. I especially liked his criticism of Harry Potter 9 and his astute observations regarding the first Planet of the Apes movie. Apparently I was only imagining the franchise that started in 1968 based off a French book from ’63.

    Seriously. You’re giving him praise for lousy journalism. Knock it off.

  • http://twitter.com/rots28 Kyle Turner

    A friend posted this link on my Facebook wall. Before even having to read the article, I replied with this:
    It’s the ongoing argument that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I believe it’s the people *in charge* of Hollywood (the execs, the businessmen, etc) who are running out of ideas. At the peak of the studio era, in the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s, studios LITERALLY churned out film after film after film. It was a machine. Granted, it was much quicker to make a film back then, due to to technological limitations and thus economic limitations, but they managed to make original films all the time. more films were released per year during the 1940′s than are released today. Michael Curtiz, who directed CASABLANCA and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, directed 163 films over the course of 50 years, which means he directed about 3 back to back a year. If execs (AND EFFING AUDIENCES) were more open minded to these new ideas that I *know* screenwriters and directors have, then there would be no problem. However, audiences like their cushy familiar stuff, and are usually less inclined to watch things they’re not familiar with, even in terms of story structure. Think of it: INCEPTION would have *never* been made, especially with the budget it had, had Christopher Nolan not directed BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT for Warner Bros. They only did it because they knew he could bring in the cash. In conclusion: I blame the execs and the audiences. If the former didn’t cottle the latter, then the former could find new ideas and stop wandering aimlessly trying to remake every damn movie/comic book/novel/TV show, etc. 

  • http://twitter.com/rots28 Kyle Turner

    A friend posted this link on my Facebook wall. Before even having to read the article, I replied with this:
    It’s the ongoing argument that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I believe it’s the people *in charge* of Hollywood (the execs, the businessmen, etc) who are running out of ideas. At the peak of the studio era, in the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s, studios LITERALLY churned out film after film after film. It was a machine. Granted, it was much quicker to make a film back then, due to to technological limitations and thus economic limitations, but they managed to make original films all the time. more films were released per year during the 1940′s than are released today. Michael Curtiz, who directed CASABLANCA and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, directed 163 films over the course of 50 years, which means he directed about 3 back to back a year. If execs (AND EFFING AUDIENCES) were more open minded to these new ideas that I *know* screenwriters and directors have, then there would be no problem. However, audiences like their cushy familiar stuff, and are usually less inclined to watch things they’re not familiar with, even in terms of story structure. Think of it: INCEPTION would have *never* been made, especially with the budget it had, had Christopher Nolan not directed BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT for Warner Bros. They only did it because they knew he could bring in the cash. In conclusion: I blame the execs and the audiences. If the former didn’t cottle the latter, then the former could find new ideas and stop wandering aimlessly trying to remake every damn movie/comic book/novel/TV show, etc. 

  • http://twitter.com/rots28 Kyle Turner

    A friend posted this link on my Facebook wall. Before even having to read the article, I replied with this:
    It’s the ongoing argument that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I believe it’s the people *in charge* of Hollywood (the execs, the businessmen, etc) who are running out of ideas. At the peak of the studio era, in the ’30s and ’40s and ’50s, studios LITERALLY churned out film after film after film. It was a machine. Granted, it was much quicker to make a film back then, due to to technological limitations and thus economic limitations, but they managed to make original films all the time. more films were released per year during the 1940′s than are released today. Michael Curtiz, who directed CASABLANCA and THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, directed 163 films over the course of 50 years, which means he directed about 3 back to back a year. If execs (AND EFFING AUDIENCES) were more open minded to these new ideas that I *know* screenwriters and directors have, then there would be no problem. However, audiences like their cushy familiar stuff, and are usually less inclined to watch things they’re not familiar with, even in terms of story structure. Think of it: INCEPTION would have *never* been made, especially with the budget it had, had Christopher Nolan not directed BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT for Warner Bros. They only did it because they knew he could bring in the cash. In conclusion: I blame the execs and the audiences. If the former didn’t cottle the latter, then the former could find new ideas and stop wandering aimlessly trying to remake every damn movie/comic book/novel/TV show, etc. 

  • Riley McK
  • Riley McK
  • Anonymous

    Well in the case of your update, LOTR is a sequel to the Hobbit.  Hook, Beauty and the Beast, and Robin Hood are also sequels by your definition.  You do understand that your current inclusion of remakes under “sequel” requires a fundamental revision to the definition of sequel? Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is not a continuation of the story of Ocean’s Eleven (1960); Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is a retelling of the same story with significant modifications to the plot, almost an adaptation of the 1960 movie.

    This work still only shows, or purports to show, a trend in what moviegoers pay to see based on a tiny sample of movies made in four years, and not a trend in movie production.

  • Anonymous

    Well in the case of your update, LOTR is a sequel to the Hobbit.  Hook, Beauty and the Beast, and Robin Hood are also sequels by your definition.  You do understand that your current inclusion of remakes under “sequel” requires a fundamental revision to the definition of sequel? Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is not a continuation of the story of Ocean’s Eleven (1960); Ocean’s Eleven (2001) is a retelling of the same story with significant modifications to the plot, almost an adaptation of the 1960 movie.

    This work still only shows, or purports to show, a trend in what moviegoers pay to see based on a tiny sample of movies made in four years, and not a trend in movie production.

  • Anonymous

    “The point of this article is that original theatrical films are becoming less and less popular.”

    This comment in the update changes the entire premise of the article as encapsulated in the title: “Has Hollywood Lost its Way?” and is contrary to statements such as: “Hollywood’s Waning Creativity.”

    So, is the premise of the article is as the update says, that the viewing public is less interested in original Hollywood movies? If so, then the article makes a reasonable–though non-scientific–argument. However, if the premise is as originally conveyed that Hollywood is making fewer original movies, the article does not provide a compelling argument.

  • DaveU

    Actually, AFI’s web site says that Casablanca was an adaptation of a script originally written for a play.

    Extending the list to cover the top 20:

    1 CITIZEN KANE 1941 (original)
    2 THE GODFATHER 1972 (adaptation)
    3 CASABLANCA 1942 (adaptation)
    4 RAGING BULL 1980 (adaptation)
    5 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952 (original)
    6 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939 (adaptation)
    7 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962 (adaptation)
    8 SCHINDLER’S LIST 1993 (adaptation)
    9 VERTIGO 1958 (adaptation)
    10 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939 (adaptation)
    11 City Lights 1931 (original)
    12 The Searchers 1956 (adaptation)
    13 Star Wars 1977 (original)
    14 Psycho 1960 (adaptation)
    15 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968 (adaptation)
    16 Sunset Blvd 1950 (original)
    17 The Graduate 1967 (adaptation)
    18 The General 1927 (adaptation)
    19 On The Waterfront 1954 (adaptation)
    20 It’s A Wonderful Life 1946 (adaptation)

    Net result, only 5 of AFI’s top 20 films of all time were original. The other 75% were adaptations. And one of those, Singin’ In The Rain, was inspired by the lyrics of the pre-existing song by that name. The song is at least 23 years older than the movie.

    Very few of the best movies were based on entirely original material.

    I don’t see any reason to expect otherwise. Film provides a wonderful medium in which to develop and express ideas in a visual way. It’s quite understandable that writers, producers, and directors would come across material in other forms and think, “I would love to make a movie out of this.” And doing so might make it easier to get funding than writing something entirely new from scratch and having to convince investors to see the commercial value.

  • DaveU

     Back in the 1940′s and 50′s, going to movies was the thing to do. Commercial mass production of television sets didn’t get underway until after World War II. Network television broadcasts didn’t start until 1948. Even in the 1950′s, many homes did not have TV sets. Theaters and drive-ins were quite popular up into the 1960′s and 1970′s.

    In the 1970′s, movie theaters started seeing competition from video tapes (Betamax in 1975 and VHS in 1977) and cable TV (Ted Turner launched WTBS in 1976).  They also had to start contending with home video game consoles like the Atari VCS which debuted in 1977.

    Today, they also have to contend with more competitors than ever. That makes investing in making or promoting completely original movie content that much more risky. It also makes consumers that much less likely to go to a theater to see an original movie rather than part of an existing franchise. For a lot of original movies, consumers have adopted a “wait ’til it comes out on Netflix” approach.

    None of the statistics cited in this article support the statement that “Hollywood is closing its doors on original stories” or that Hollywood’s creativity is truly waning. Instead, the logical conclusion is that theater goers are more inclined to spend their money on familiar franchises.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7TLEXLX4WKQ5RRMRVJJ4M7L4GY Against Treason

    A little reminder: That British/ Australian and the Canadians take more
    AMERIAN jobs then any other country. You only have to watch any TV show and we
    are all forced to bear the crudest of accents just about in every show and
    every ad.

    Look at any so called American movies, not only they are not
    made in Hollywood, but most of the
    actors in the American movies are all from the UK
    or Australian. 
    So is that not shameful? That so many Americans can’t get a job
    in a industry that they invented. Called Hollywood!

    Example: The stupid Batman’s movies, even the name of the
    movie has been changed to “the dark knight”. LOL! And all the staring
    rolls have been given to non-Americans like Batman played by non-American. Joker played by non-American and so and so on.

    I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who HATES
    Americans more then the British and the Australians. The jealous and envy for America
    is unreal. Don’t take my word for it, Go there and see for yourself. 

  • Fklsdkldfj

    Uh…  Harry Potter 9?   Last time I checked there were 7 books, only one of which was split into two films.  6 +2 = 8.  For all those touting your research, looks like you dropped the ball on the highest grossing franchise on your list.

  • Fklsdkldfj

    Uh…  Harry Potter 9?   Last time I checked there were 7 books, only one of which was split into two films.  6 +2 = 8.  For all those touting your research, looks like you dropped the ball on the highest grossing franchise on your list.

  • Wack’d

    Rereleases are far from a new thing. It only seems like they are because they went away for a while when home video  made them redundant. Look up, for example, the release dates for most of the Disney animated canon. Note how most of them have five or six dates listed, nearly decades apart, before suddenly stopping in the 1980s. 

    3D technology and the expense involved in building them into TVs has made the rerelease viable again. It’s not a creative low, it’s the resurgence of a tradition.

  • Wack’d

    Rereleases are far from a new thing. It only seems like they are because they went away for a while when home video  made them redundant. Look up, for example, the release dates for most of the Disney animated canon. Note how most of them have five or six dates listed, nearly decades apart, before suddenly stopping in the 1980s. 

    3D technology and the expense involved in building them into TVs has made the rerelease viable again. It’s not a creative low, it’s the resurgence of a tradition.

  • NotAllAmericansAreIdiots

    “Against Treason”, to be blunt, you are a fucking idiot.  You are the definition of a stupid American and why 9/10 of the world stereotypes and despises Americans.  I am glad you imbeciles are only the minority in the US.  It’s just sad that the respectable Americans have to take the flack for your hatred because your fellow morons are so vocal in your ineptitude.  Apologies for the big words that probably go over the threshold your grammar-lacking brain can comprehend.

    Without Canada, Hollywood would make half the movies they currently do because the majority of movies are largely filmed in Canada due to tax breaks and other cost savings not available in the US.

    Without the UK, Australia and other countries that provide some of Hollywood’s top actors and actresses, the other 6.7 billion people around the world who aren’t ignorant like you would hate how Hollywood is prejudice (more so than they already are).  Not to mention the fact that some of the top-grossing Hollywood franchises and solo movies were created by or adapted from works by “foreigners”.  If you got your way, there would probably already be 20 Fast and Furious movies (which is probably still going to happen thanks to people like you).

    Read a book or better yet, go back and get your GED.  An education will enlighten you.

  • http://twitter.com/jessrod354 Jessica Rodriguez

    I think this is less about Hollywood’s waning creativity and more about the mass appeal. We as viewers are apparently not into original, thought-provoking, interesting films. We rather pay to see action and violence.

  • Anonymous

    Amusingly, even the excretable Planet of the Apes is better considered an adaptation as both it and the 1968 version are adapted from the 1963 novel. Furthermore, to say Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a remake based on similarities between it and previous Planet of the Apes movies is to ignore its originality and would require the labeling of Saving Private Ryan a remake for its similarities to the Longest Day.

  • Anonymous

    Amusingly, even the excretable Planet of the Apes is better considered an adaptation as both it and the 1968 version are adapted from the 1963 novel. Furthermore, to say Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a remake based on similarities between it and previous Planet of the Apes movies is to ignore its originality and would require the labeling of Saving Private Ryan a remake for its similarities to the Longest Day.

  • http://twitter.com/HSeddon Hannah Seddon

    This doesn’t change that the Planet of the Apes franchise didn’t begin in 2001.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    And no sequels.

  • Anonymous

    So then would Dune be a derivation of the Pocahontas story as well? Paul goes into the desert; joins the Fremen natives; falls in love and adapts their culture; and leads them to victory over the occupation forces.

    If you want to get really picky, the idea of “going native” occurs throughout history. Mark Antony in Egypt with Cleopatra predates Pocahontas by a millennium and change. Though there was no victory for them.

  • Leroy Jenkins

    Harry Potter 8 is also an adaptation…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Griff-Griffin/661549622 Andrew Griff Griffin

    I can see this is a genuinely well meaning article intended as a ‘call to arms’ but its also a lot of ill thought out aimless tabloid bollocks.
    The food industry has evolved over the past 30 years to house McDonalds and Pizza chains at the top of the tree purely down to the fact that they’re the most flexible, widely enjoyed, cookie cutter foods to cater to the masses. They evolved in the same way any industry evolves, and created a huge market that wasnt previously there because there was nobody to cater to it. They dont cater – nor do they try – to the same market as more personal, bespoke chefs/restaurants, and nor should they. Sometimes people want a drive through burger on their way to work rather than paying a premium and waiting longer for the hand prepared eggs benedict – and thats fine.Hollywood too has refined whats most popular ‘the heros journey’, into its very burger like essence …. the ultimate (super) hero facing the ultimate challenge(the end of the world) in the most eye catching colours (3D). If nobody went they wouldnt make these films – but they do – and theres a market for it. They may not be to EVERYONEs taste, but they are to the majority of peoples taste, and NOT making them would not mean that majority would flood the cinemas to see ‘Shame’ instead.The term of ‘unoriginal’ that you’re applying is confused because the definition of a film as being a sequel or adaptation bears no relevance to its quality (tentpoles like T2, Empire, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter 3, Godfather 2, True Grit, Casino Royale were all better films than their ‘originals’) so what are you actually bemoaning?Mourning the loss of originality for its own sake is odd, especially as it clearly still exists, but just not in the upper echelon of super blockbusters market where it doesnt really belong. Who cares if they’re making sequels so long as there is a market for them and so long as they are good films?By all means berate a lack of QUALITY in the top ten, that I would understand, but that isnt what your argument is aimed at.By all means also berate a lack of films that are original and good in the general film market – but there ARE in fact a huge number of new directors making very significant films and probably more than ever given the means of access to creation & self distribution.

    I think if this discussion has flared up into a big deal, its as much to do with the unfocussed fuzziness of what it is you’re actually writing about as it is an inflammatory issue. Tell us what you actually want to discuss with some clarity and we can discuss it.

  • Anonymous

    Great article, Andrew! I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.  Especially when a terrible a movie like Chipmunks 3 from their franchise can make 60 million but some of the best movies I saw in 2011 barely broke half a million.  It reminds me even more the responsibility we have to support really great art and not recycled art.  On the other hand, Evil Dead 2 was technically a remake/sequel and when I saw that it blew up my mind up with awesomeness. 

  • Zahirtigre

    i always thought Avatar was an adaptation of Pocahontas….  :P

  • Poop

    there are only 8 harry potter films, not 9 

  • Gary

    2001 is in sort of grey area. The book and movie were developed in parallel.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Appreciate all the feedback. Let’s try this…

    OBSERVATION: Original films are making less money when compared to sequels than they have in years past. Agree or Disagree?

    HYPOTHESIS: Hollywood will become less and less interested in releasing original films (which are more difficult to predict) than sequels. Agree or Disagree?

  • Anonymous

    OBSERVATION: disagree. Titanic, Inception, and Avatar were blockbuster original screenplays in recent years. Though they might be outliers, their presence indicates the potential this observation is flawed as they are positive feedback to the industry.

    HYPOTHESIS: this is speculative, a better hypothesis is: “Hollywood has become less and less…” as this allows for analysis of existing data for trends. Of course you also need the Null Hypothesis of “Hollywood has not become less and less…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/maurey Maurey Loeffler

    RankTitleStudioCategoryDirector(s)Gross1.Fiddler on the RoofUnited ArtistsAdaptationNorman Jewison$80,500,000[1]2.The French Connection20th Century FoxAdaptationWilliam Friedkin$51,700,000[2]3.Diamonds Are ForeverUnited ArtistsSequel (of Adaptation)Guy Hamilton$43,819,547[3]4.Dirty HarryWarner Bros.Original (with sequels to follow)Don Siegel$35,976,000[4]5.Billy JackWarner Bros.SequelTom Laughlin$32,500,000[5]6.Summer of ’42Warner Bros.Original (based on memoirs of screenwriter)Robert Mulligan$32,063,634[6]7.The Last Picture ShowColumbiaAdaptationPeter Bogdanovich$29,133,000[7]8.Carnal KnowledgeEmbassyOriginalMike Nichols$28,623,000[8]9.A Clockwork OrangeWarner Bros.OriginalStanley Kubrick$26,589,355[9]10.Bedknobs and BroomsticksWalt Disney PicturesAdaptationRobert Stevenson$17,871,174[10]From Wikipedia.
    Going back to 1971, pre Star Wars and pre Jaws but post Easy Rider, makes the distinction even greater. Billy Jack is a sequel but the original is barely known so most people thought of it as an original.

  • http://www.facebook.com/maurey Maurey Loeffler

    Sorry, the formatting disappeared on my previous post.

    Going back to 1971, pre Star Wars and Pre Jaws, but post Easy Rider furthers the distinction with only one sequel/adapatation, which was Bond and one sequel that many thought was an original in Billy Jack. But, there were more adaptations than in 1981, so maybe the originals hit their peak in the seventies sometime.

    1971
    1. Fiddler on the Roof – Adaptation2. The French Connection – Adaptation
    3. Diamonds are Forever – Sequel / Adaptation
    4. Dirty Harry – Original (sequels to follow)
    5. Billy Jack – Sequel (most know this as the original though)
    6. Summer of ’42 – Original (based on memoirs of the screenwriter)
    7. The Last Picture Show – Adaptation
    8. Carnal Knowledge – Original
    9. A Clockwork Orange – Adaptation
    10. Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Adaptation

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Using select examples and ignoring the data is a terribly flawed way to draw conclusions.

    I’m still wondering where you agree or disagree with the hypothesis in this article. Or do you believe we are and will be seeing more and more original films from Hollywood in the coming years?

  • Anonymous

     I’m not ignoring the data. You posed an observation that original movies are making less money, I countered with three recent  examples that are originals and at the top echelon of box office returns. These anecdotes do not invalidate your observation, but do demonstrate that the observation is questionable.

    You started from a premise and selected the data to fit the premise by the way you defined sequel versus adaptation. Then you chose to only use the top ten films rather than the set of all films made per year. The top ten does not pay the bill as to whether or not Hollywood’s creativity is waxing or waning; rather, it shows a potential trend of movie goer preferences. For every Titanic there’s an Ishtar, and for every Transformers there’s a John Carter. You are going to have a devil of a time convincing me there is any correlation, let alone causation, between box office returns and creativity.

    Bottom line, your methodology is fundamentally flawed.  It doesn’t matter whether I agree or disagree with your hypothesis as you have failed to prove it to any degree of rigor. You’re attempting to measure Hollywood creativity by the number of original movies in the top ten of box office returns. First, you have not established a correlation between the two variables.  This is important since the causative factor of whether a movie makes it into the top ten is the market place, not it’s creativity. So you have to establish why analysis of the top ten is a viable method for discerning creativity trends. Second, you do not control for the size of box office returns–there may be more derivative films, but the total box office for original films may be greater. Finally, you did not establish that the top ten is a representative sample of the total film production for any year. Failure to demonstrate the top ten as representative of the population discredits any conclusions drawn from the analysis.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Another dodge! So you have no real opinion on the actual topic, just the way the article was written, huh?

  • Anonymous

    Pretty much; the argument and presentation of evidence are flawed and do not prove the hypothesis.

    My actual opinion? I have doubts about your hypothesis. I see enough originality in crop of recent successful films to not be concerned with any trends.

    Bottom line? I just want to see a good movie. Whether it is an original, remake, or sequel is irrelevant to the criteria that it be good.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Do you go to the movies as much as you did 10/20 years ago?

  • Anonymous

     Not quite as much, I worked in a theater 20 years ago. I still go about 10-15 times a year.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    Me neither. I used to go 20-30 times a year. Now just 2 or 3 times.

  • Anonymous

    Audiences in 1981 where still coming down from the amazing decade of the 70s, when audiences actually craved original, thought-provoking and challenging films that were considered important and influential. Today’s movies are toothless, apolitical, unoffending, spineless, irrelevant, empty entertainments and apparently that’s exactly what audiences want. The movies are the place people go to turn their brains off. It once was the place to turn your brain on. True cinema is dead!

  • Ryan Gauvin

    There is a whole lot of comments here, and I am no movie buff like everyone else here apparently is. But Pixar movies like toy story, and up, they aren’t allowed to be clumped in with the “original movies” Of their particular year. All of the stories were written at the same time, and Pixar just had a long to-do list. And are just getting around to making them (Time issue).  They are still original 90′s story lines (I believe that is the right year).

    But the issue really is apart of both of us, the industry, and the consumer. Consumers do not WANT to see original stories, because the original story movies made by Hollywood, well, suck… John Carter was an epic flop, and to be perfectly honest, it just LOOKED like a crap movie. And all of the original stories being produced are declined because the “Last” original they made flopped. and they lost hundreds of millions on it. why try again? Its a business remember? So they might as well make another Transformers movie because they know everyone will see it. The movies wern’t that good per-say, but I have to admit, I saw it. Purely to know what happens next (Well that and explosions…). The whole thing is messed up. Holloway and its viewers need a hard reset. Start from scratch. I just hope it goes up eventually and doesnt disappear.

  • Jin Yi

    Interesting article, interesting replies.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Nice. Interesting to see there were only 2 sequels/franchises in ’71.

  • Microbots

    2010: INCEPTION!

  • Guest

    What people?
    People want to be entertained. You can do that with an original 2 hour movie.

  • GUEST

    HOLLYWOOD HAS LOST ITS WAY. 
    Or is showing quite a disturbing trend that many prominent filmmakers and critics alike have recently started to realize and voice.

    It’s a trend that focuses more on FX and lazy screenwriting and  adaptations rather than solid storytelling and minimal gimmicky filmmaking.
    Its upsetting that people just try to defend what’s happenings saying ‘OH THERE WERE REMAKES BEFORE’. Or ‘Such and such good movie was an adaptation too!’

    Say what you want but there wasn’t a movie based on such thin premises as Stretch Armstrong and Battleship the board game (which are both in production) or prequels to a franchises that had run out of stories to create sequels. Unoriginality has never been so widespread and prominent.

    Did you know that movie attendance is at an all time low and they are just charging more on tickets to make more money? (Thus, bringing movie profits to an all time high!) 

    COMMENTERS- STOP DEFENDING ORIGINALITY. We as an audience should demand for better movies or else they’ll keep trying to pass off cr@p and charge us top dollar for it.
    When you willfully accept a lower standard, Hollywood will adopt that lower standard and stop striving to make films that have the potential to become iconic parts of culture.

  • Guest

    * meant to say: COMMENTERS- STOP DEFENDING UNORIGINALITY.

  • Wack’d

    Are you suggesting John Carter was an original idea?

    John Carter, who was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the 1910s?

  • http://twitter.com/vel_radinovic velimir radinovic

    Are the masses to blame for having been “dumbed down” by media.  Is it the media’s fault for giving people what they want?  Perhaps a little bit of both.  I think it’s pretty silly to have a flat price for movie tickets when the value of every movie clearly is not the same, as has been stated in this article.  For original works to compete against blockbuster marketing, why not lower the cost of admission?  

    The same thing is what’s wrong w/ the video game industry.  Not all games are created equal.  I’m not going out and paying 60+ dollars for a new release that can be finished in two days and is a complete stinker.  The video game industry’s solution to this problem?  Create an online ID that allows access to content only on your device, and nobody else’s.  No more physical content, no more sharing and re-selling.  

  • Jeramyjay

    How about not remaking 50 claasic or movie flops from the past? Sequels are fine to a point. It’s just people are not trying. Hollywood is just like the music industry now, churn out as much crap and hype it up to make money. Sorry but when Hollywood turns to remaking the wizard of oz, they have given up.

  • Anonymous

    I have noticed over the past ten years that Hollywood is no longer taken risks on creative story lines for big commercial films.  I certainly hope that this is just a passing trend and not a permanent trait of Hollywood. I am pretty sure that this is the effect of big Hollywood studios concerned about their bottom line since the economic downturn. To an extent people just don’t want to take risks on something they are not familiar with when they want to save money. However, I think that this trend  of remakes, reboots, and sequels is going to blow up in Hollywood’s face and may already be coming to a head. People are ready for fresh material, especially from the people I have been talking to their are noticing the trend as well and are not as forgiving with their dollar.

    On another note Hollywood is re-releasing older movies in 3D. I think that this is also going to tick off people at the box office who are going to pay $14 dollars for a movie that they can watch at home for free. This is a gimmick and will not work well for long. I think that the trend of rebooting movies that have been made five years ago or less is going to piss people off as well. And remaking great movies from the 80′s terribly is really not a good idea as well. I am just soo sick of Hollywood’s gimmicks right now I could find move creativity in a short from the internet for free. Why should I pay Hollywood to be uncreative! 

  • strifekun

    Titanic and Avatar are most definitely not ‘original’ as one is based on true events and the other is a clear rip off of Fern Gully and Pocahontas. Where as Inception can claim some sort of semblance of originality, even though it draws inspiration from several different Japanese animations.
    Not exactly on the topic of what you’re talking about, but I felt this needed to be said.

  • Anonymous

    Titanic was an original screenplay. The story was based on historic events yes, but it was neither a sequel nor an adaption, and the main plot of the interaction between Jack and Rose was original. To suggest anything based on history is unoriginal is ludicrous.  Avatar may have had themes in common with the other movies, but it was not a copy of them, so again neither a sequel nor an adaptation.  [and as I pointed out earlier, the story of Pocahontas is itself historically unoriginal, and by your own description the movie Pocahontas is unoriginal as it is based on historic events] Finally, if we’re going to go down the rabbit hole of saying a movie that draws mere concept inspirations–as opposed to drawing characters and story–from other films is unoriginal then there is truly no original work as every single piece of media produced today can be linked in some way to another piece of media.

  • http://katnissthegryffindor.tumblr.com/ Alice

    I agree with Frankie Wild. Also, I can’t take you seriously because you’ve posted ‘Harry Potter 9′. Seriously? How difficult is it to do a bit of research? I think you’ve spent more time making graphics then doing research. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=724789395 Ruth Afrita Peranginangin

    Very interesting topic! Since a lot of people were mentioning on whether to put the blame on the audience or on Hollywood, I’d like to quote part of Gregory Peck’s speech when he accepted his 

    AFI Life Achievement Award in 1989,

    “Making millions is not the whole ballgame, Fellas. Pride in workmanship is worth more. Artistry is worth more. The public is ready for the best you can give ’em. It just may be that you can make a

    buck and at the same time encourage, foster and commission work of quality and originality.”

  • Filthysocknum3

    there are only 7 original movies on the chart for 1981…
    plus an adaptation in on golden pond
    and sequels in superman 2 and for your eyes only…
    sorry if this has been mentioned already, but the site still reflects an inaccurate count

  • Nightwolf214

    RISE OF PLANET OF THE APES is an orignial freakin movie!
    actually it was the only good movie that came out that year
    its not a sequel to planet of the apes!!!

  • Harkeyvisuals

    that would indeed be the dream, but do you think Short films could ever be marketable? i don’t know, i doubt it unless people stop giving them out for free online.

  • Meeea

    Well you can check 10 years before and find the same article I guess…
    Also, check the 10 movies of all time in US Box Office :
    - Avatar (original…sort of…)
    - Titanic (Original)
    - Dark Knight (Sequel but sooo good)
    - Star Wars (Original)
    - Shrek 2 (sequel),
    -  E.T. (Original),
    - Star Wars Phantom Menace (Sequel),
    - Dead Man Chest (Sequel),
    - Toy Story 3 (Sequel),
    - Spider-Man (Adaptation)….. 

    Five Sequel for four original material…

    But you’ll say : Ok but many of these original movies came from 10 years or so.
    Ok so what about movies this year so far in the box office ?
    - Hunger Games ? (Adaptation)
    - The Avengers (Well…Sequel)
    - The Lorax ? (Adaptation)
    - 21 Jump Street (Adaptation),
    - Safe House (Original),
    - The Vow (Original)
    - Think Like a Man (Original…sort of…well based on a book but the story is original)
    - Journey 2 ? (sequel And Adaptation)

    Only 2 sequel and 3 Original… And we must check the full list of movies from last year for an opinion about last year.

    We can’t trust a website promoting Short Films for an article which the conclusion is : Go See Short Films !

  • Liquid

     It’s more closely related to “Dances with Wolves” even some of the speeches in both movies are almost word for word.

  • Ensor

    I’ve tried to find a full 30 year history…without success but I will post as soon as I can find anything worth posting. I agree pretty much with everything your saying, although I’m not opposed to adaptations or sequels, it’s the sheer volume of it nowadays….every film seems to be followed with a sequel and then more than likely at least a 3rd film, why? Apart from the obvious money as a lot of them as illustrated do make money, for it’s devaluing the industry.

    Some films can be brilliant and should be left on their merit and not over saturated, my biggest gripe now is old films being re-enhanced in 3d for a new generation, (lion king). If we re-enhance every single film, they are never going to be left in time. I like watching these films as they were when made, it also illustrates how far technology has come since, yes in Ghostbusters the dogs clearly look superimposed….so what it was made in the 80s.

    I think these days people believe the hype over a blockbuster franchise Transformers for example, used to be just trailered at the cinema or on your t.v, now you can see them any time you like, so it’s always going to generate more popularity and interest, but the majority of people seem to want a lot of special effects and no storyline because it looks cool, so I think the majority of the world are to blame just as much as Hollywood, these films wouldn’t keep being made if they didn’t sell in vast numbers…Fact.

  • http://twitter.com/mamadawg72 mamadawg72

    Just small fyi to whoever created this list…titanic not exactly original. Practically identical (in every way) version was actually released in 1953.

  • Boo

    “Franchises from 2001 were (sic) still supporting…” *we’re

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    I think you misread the phrase. My brevity perhaps made it less clear—”Franchises from 2001 were still supporting (the industry in) 2011.

  • trix

    Fern Gully. Also I thought Avatar was a load of badly conceived derivative hogwash. I don’t fall for marketing campaigns. The more they try to sell it, the more dubious I feel…until i can judge for myself ;-)

    Aside, I really dislike poor script writing, in both TV and film. I am not implying it is any sloppier than it was in the past but I feel as though the chasm between the good and bad is increasingly noticable.

  • Sage

    Just goes to show, some of the best moves ever made aren’t on the top 10 or even the top 15…

  • Sage

    Nice to see someone that feels the way I do out in the wild :D

  • Sage

    Who is ‘we’ lady?

  • Sage

    “doesn’t really count” it’s still an adaption and it’s still a sequel. Just because it was made to be a series doesn’t make it less of what it is.

  • http://twitter.com/katiecarman Katie Carman

    As a film lover and film-maker myself, I’ve grown weary of Hollywood and their inability to produce creative feature films. I’ve recently started a campaign called “Hollywood, I’m Breaking Up With You”, collecting videos from other film lovers pissed with Hollywood and the terrible films they’re producing recently. Check it out at http://breakingupwithhollywood.tumblr.com/ and add your own break-up video!

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnnyEponymous Christopher J. Garcia

    Hey, Hollywood’s been doing the re-release thing for more than a Century. I am fairly certain that Gone with the Wind was released 5 different times between it’s original release and 1979. Sadly, even though I program short films for a bunch of festivals, with incredibly limited exceptions, there’s almost no real market for ‘em. Last year, I watched 800 shorts, only two of them made any significant cheddar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnnyEponymous Christopher J. Garcia

    Hey, Hollywood’s been doing the re-release thing for more than a Century. I am fairly certain that Gone with the Wind was released 5 different times between it’s original release and 1979. Sadly, even though I program short films for a bunch of festivals, with incredibly limited exceptions, there’s almost no real market for ‘em. Last year, I watched 800 shorts, only two of them made any significant cheddar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmelton Keith Melton
  • http://www.facebook.com/kmelton Keith Melton
  • http://www.facebook.com/kmelton Keith Melton
  • http://www.facebook.com/jasondhi Jason Sondhi

    Rad! Nice work

  • CJ

    Except I’ve spotted at least one inaccuracy. The Polar Express was not an original, it was an adaptation from a children’s book. Plus why is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part one listed as a sequel and not an adaptation like the others? Plus what is A Bug’s Life a remake of?

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    That’s excellent! I took your numbers and quickly put together totals by decade. The results speak for themselves… Half as many original films in the 2000s as there were in the 1980s. And the 2010s are shaping up to be even lower.

  • Nien

    This list is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen

  • Nien

    This list is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen

  • kevin

    the majority of the US population. she’s not implying you are in this category, she’s using “we” as a term to address the people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619486820 Gordon Elgart

    A Bug’s Life is a loose remake of Seven Samurai. Very loose. Perhaps that’s what he was thinking.

  • Argento

    Is it maybe that Hollywood is a machine driven by money and that they test and analyze where that money might be and market to the largest segment of the movie-going population? Maybe, as a country, we (the people – smirk) are getting dumber and lazier. Maybe the general populace doesn’t want to be bothered with thought provoking stories (today, the American public views the artless bumbling of the Da Vinci Code as high art). All of this is cyclical, as we the people grow dumber, the lively returning tide of those who want more will speak up. Hopefully, the meaningless crap that is being churned out today will be washed away by new films and filmmakers and we’ll see another period of great film like the 70′s and 80′s.

  • Argento

    They aren’t discussing re-releases, they are discussing remakes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deneishia Dee Jacobpito

    My guess is: The deathly hallows part 2 is more of sequel than an adaptation because they split book 7 into 2 movies and part 2 is not a stand alone adaptation. That’s just my guess.

  • David Misraje

    I
    have a theory. Here it is, for what it’s worth. My belief is
    that when a civilization runs out of creative mythology to communicate
    depth and complexity within its society, it is on its way out. No
    stories left to tell=stagnation and decay. I think we have run out of
    stories to tell, or those in charge aren’t listening. Either way, I
    think it’s a sign of our slow demise. Joel and Ethan Coen gave us a shot in the arm, creating a whole new brand of American mythology, tied to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Who will lead the way now?

  • The Misanthrope

    Shame, Tyrannosaur, Attack the Block, Fire in Babylon and Melancholia have nothing to do with Hollywood. The first four are British productions, the last a Danish and Swedish co-production.
    Fast 5, X Men:First Class and ROTPOTA are sequels/prequels of existing popular franchises – with established characters, worlds and story arcs there’s not much originality to them (the latter two were great fun, though).
    War Horse, The Ides of March, The Descendants, Tin Tin and Hugo are adaptations of already popular plays/books/comics (of which, Tin Tin and War Horse are originally Belgian and British, respectively). Hollywood had no creative input: They took proven popular creativity from other media and appropriated it. The only original Hollywood film on your list is Young Adult – produced by the Hollywood system from a screenplay expressly written for the purpose of being made into a film.
    From the sound of it, you’re either ignorant or misunderstood the article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmelton Keith Melton

    Ok, I was not aware that Polar Express was an adaptation.
    I went back and forth on the Harry Potter books calling them sequels and adaptations because they filled both roles. Same result as ‘non original works’ The Lord of the Ring films got the same treatment.
    A Bug’s Life is a remake of Seven Samurai.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kmelton Keith Melton

    Ok, I fixed the list with your corrections. Thanks!
    http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/akbar56/847416/101049/101049_original.png

  • rjc

    Following your simplification “The Silence of the Lambs” fits into SEQUEL category. “Manhunter”, which is an adaptation itself, has been made in 1986.

  • Devorah

    Amazing stats… interesting why you are suggesting shorts will lead the way. Devo, Pres. Noble House Entertainment, Inc.

  • Jinx Y

    Aren’t we misinterpreting this infographic? The list of top 10 grossing films doesn’t tell us “what Hollywood made” – it tells us “what consumers chose/bought”.

    Hollywood still made lots of original movies in recent years – they just didn’t sell as well as the movies that were sequels, so they didn’t make it to the “top 10″ list.

    And who determines which movies sell (or don’t)? It ain’t Hollywood (otherwise there would be no box-office flops)… it’s the consumers who ultimately decide which movies make it to the “top 10″ list, by voting with their dollars.

    So this infographic says much more about consumers (their choices, and how it has changed in past decades) than it says about Hollywood.

  • Bobby Hill

    Just to add to your good work, here’s a chart showing trend lines per category.

  • duchamp

    2001: A Space Odyssey is not an adaptation. Kubrick and Clarke developed the screenplay together, film and novel were both results of this same process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.capogrossi Jon Capogrossi

    The films that get me into theatres are the films that seem interesting to me…If I feel like I already know everything that will happen in the film, if I feel like “I’ve seen this already”, then I wait for it to come out on Redbox and rent it for a buck later…Example- The Amazing Spiderman…I just wasnt intersted enough in going to see this instant reboot to shell out money for it…I’ll rent it. People said it was cool…I still didn’t feel interested….As a parent, it is harder for me to go to the moveis than it used to be…I have to really want to see something to get out and see it In the last few years, there are only certain films that I made sure to show up on opening day to see (even in half empty theaters)… Super8, Avatar, Cloverfield, Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Inception… a couple others that I didnt see on opening day but made a point to get out to the theatres to see it includes Moon, Prometheus, and -yes- The Avengers…. NO, not all the films I just mentioned were classics…..HOWEVER It was pretty much all about anticipation- the feeling of “I can’t wait to see this movie, it’s going to be cool, it’s going to take us on a fun and exciting journey”…just being interested in the film- What’s it about? What will happen in this film? As a sci-fi fan, this is what causes me to decide if I’m going to pursue going to see it or not…I support original movies because I am interested in them. With instant reboots, remakes, and the glut of comic book movies, I pretty much feel like the movies is no longer the place to be on Friday nights–It USED to be, at least to me…I was 13 years old in 1984 and I saw pretty much ALL of those top grossing (and original) movies of 1984 in the theatres and those movies have influenced me even to this day…NOW, things have definitely changed… I don’t know why more original screenplays were turned into films in the early mid 80′s as compared to now, I don’t know what it was about Hollywood THEN that seemed to support original screenplays being made into films as opposed to NOW… However, I do agree that it is a sign of decline

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    I’m not sure consumer habits have changed so much as Hollywood is now analyzing these habits so closely that many ideas that run counter to existing trends aren’t even considered.

  • http://www.shortoftheweek.com Short of the Week

    I’m not sure consumer habits have changed so much as Hollywood is now analyzing these habits so closely that many ideas that run counter to existing trends aren’t even considered.

  • godiva de maus

    Point taken, but you do miss a larger point. The masses go to movies that are presented to them that strike their fancy. But if the film has limited exposure, investment in advertising, doesn’t play at a large number of theatres, then it is less likely the public will have an opportunity to consider whether the film “would” strike it’s fancy. So, yes, many times the public chooses films that aren’t that great. BUT then again, if a film doesn’t have the distribution support behind it, the public will rarely do the hard work of seeking it out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cherry.moon.7543 Cherry Moon

    Original would mean thought, thought would mean questioning, questioning would mean change, change would mean challenging the status quo. Instead we mindlessly watch sequels and sell our souls to the Hollywood Box Office Monster.

  • erik

    Need of a new IP in 2011 = 0

    With all the sequals prepared, and produced, there simply wasnt NEED for a new IP in 2011. This article is hence fuckig stupid, dont read it.

  • Dukla

    When big corporations took an active role in the movie industry, this is the result you get. Reliable return on investment, ie. sequels, remakes.

  • shiner

    2001 is an adaption. It’s based off Clarke’s shorts stories “The Sentinel” and “Encounter in the Dawn”

  • shiner

    2001 is an adaption. It’s based off Clarke’s shorts stories “The Sentinel” and “Encounter in the Dawn”

  • haggie

    Claims like these are weird to me because they start with the assumption that the increase in sequels is inversly related to a decrease in creativity or diversity. That just isn’t true. In the first half of the twentieth century, Hollywood studios produced far more films (hundreds) but they were all very much in the realm of genre exercises. A film’s genre was about the only thing that made it different from any other film, but certainly not much different than any film born out of the same genre. WB made noir, MGM made musicals, and on, and on. Hollywood’s reliance on genres then is pretty much the same situation that we have now, only the genres have become franchises. Star Wars is a genre, Harry Potter is a genre, Twilight is a genre (and each of these examples have copycats that expand the genre beyond the films that originated it). Plus, we still have all those old genres as well.

    The great films of the past that have been canonized are largely the exceptions to the rule of genre formula. They are great because they exceded the immediate demands of their genre. In other cases, these great films are simply the best example of a particular genre exercise.

    We should also note that the late 60s through the early 80s was a very strange time for Hollywood in that the Production Code had been abolished, filmmakers had new freedom to make films without fear of censorship (or being blacklisted). Because of this, the influence of foreign films and other alternative modes of sotrytelling (avante garde, etc) seeped into Hollywood (before the appearance of the “blockbuster” changed the way Hollywood worked all over again).

    Hollywood is simply continuing to do what they’ve always done: make formulaic films. But we should also recognize that the idependent market has grown immensely (including an entire submarket of independent films that are actually funded by Hollywood) and that foreign films are being produced by more countries, and that films from both of those markets are now easier to access than ever before. The percentage of Hollywood films against the totality of films has shrunk immensely. That they are producing sequels is not really all that big of an issue. Hollywood was never any more “original” or “creative” than what it is today.

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    I think we mostly agree. And I appreciate the historical perspective ;)

    The big question for filmmakers is: if Hollywood’s roll in the film industry is shrinking, what will fill it’s place?

  • Brent

    Hollywood needs to get its act together quick. Transformers 4? Seriously Hollywood?

  • Jimbo

    I think we are to blame. At the end of the day Hollywood is a business and if money is being made on shiity sequels and stuff why should they change. I hope that a time will come when orignality returns to the HollyWood blockbuster. Inception and Avatar seem to me to be the only two original ‘epic’ films to be made in the last few years. And both of those rode on the successes of their directors (Nolan and Cameron)

  • Jimbo

    I think we are to blame. At the end of the day Hollywood is a business and if money is being made on shiity sequels and stuff why should they change. I hope that a time will come when orignality returns to the HollyWood blockbuster. Inception and Avatar seem to me to be the only two original ‘epic’ films to be made in the last few years. And both of those rode on the successes of their directors (Nolan and Cameron)

  • http://www.andrewsallen.com Andrew S Allen

    Yes, Hollywood is a business and is typically run like one. And we, the audience (customer), vote for what movies (product) we want to see with our dollars. The question I’m interested in now is: why now? Why are audiences preferring sequels more now than they did 10/20 years ago? What’s different? I suspect it has to do with market conditions and the increased competition from TV and online video. But that may need to be another article ;)

  • http://twitter.com/TyleKurner Kyle Turner

    yep, I agree.

  • Emani Burton

    You have valid points but also it is a recession and sometimes its is not worth the money for 8 -10 dollar movie productions. Now if they stated making movies like Fair Lady OR gone with THE Wind- you know all day events- then people wouldn’t pirate or wait for net flicks.

  • Emani Burton

    You have valid points but also it is a recession and sometimes its is not worth the money for 8 -10 dollar movie productions. Now if they stated making movies like Fair Lady OR gone with THE Wind- you know all day events- then people wouldn’t pirate or wait for net flicks.

  • Bob

    If you remove the kids movies it makes it even look worse.

  • Anonymous

    stop paying to see it. problem solved. people like it.

  • Anonymous

    distribution cost money. do you have any idea how many films are made a year that don’t make money? it’s not like this is a free medium. it’s a double edged sword. they push and push and push a movie and people don’t go see it then people lose their jobs. I.E John Carter

  • Bunny

    I find it’s getting more and more difficult to find movies I enjoy. I thought maybe that Hollywood was starting to run out of good stories to tell or they all just got too wrapped up in the CGI hype and decided CGI and explosions are better to focus on than a good story, that I am just getting older and I’m not as easily amused as my younger days or all of the above. I can only hope that this article is right and that someday they will make some more good movies again.

  • Jason Sondhi

    Don’t disagree, I’ve long loved Blockbusters, but the CG action fatigue is really setting in. GI Joe (ugh) was the epitome of this for me. That’s why, though i wasn’t crazy about the film, What Forster did with “World War Z”, ditching a written and shot pyrotechnic ending to reshoot a subtler, quieter, finale was a hopeful sign for me.

  • LeCthu

    The problem is when bringing an original script becomes a suspicious critea for the industry. Who wants to take a risk for an original script? It is easier to sell an adaptation and make sequels than defend something original.

    Don’t forget that it is not the same business. 200 millions $ budgets are not for original scripts, 50 may be, but never 200. The chance is that the differences between a 200 millions $ buget movie and a 50 millions $ buget movie is not so big on the screen, most of the budget are promotional stuffs.

    If original means necessarly low budget that is a problem. Let a place for every cinema.

  • William Barkley

    Let’s try an experiment. Let’s say that you persuade banks to loan you $100 million and you’re going to invest it in a movie. Now, you want to get your money back to repay the bank loans, and hopefully make some profit. Are you going to invest in a formula flick with a decent rate of return, or risk your money on a “maybe?” Don’t forget, the banks are waiting to be repaid. It’s evolving this way: The big screen is for big-budget formula flicks. Small screen movies are for new ideas.

  • William Barkley

    YES! We must raise our fists and demand:
    1. That we be entertained
    2. That scripting, directing, acting be thought-provoking and original
    3. Tickets sell for pennies on the dollar
    4. That actors demand less pay and marketing costs are free

    BTW, two years later (2014) we’re still in a recession. Everything stated in posts dated 2012 are still relevant two years later. One thing has changed: Production costs have increased, and H’wood is shooting more movies outside of California.

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  • Vittorio D’Antuono

    Agreed. But Fast 5, seriously? I’m a F&F fan but that one is not definitely the most original one so far.