Think of a film you most recently watched? For me, it’d be Going in Style (2017). A fairly good example actually considering it came out this year. Now, keep that film in your head, and answer this question. Is it original?
Now I don’t mean in the sense that the film is original in uniqueness. What I mean is that the chances of this film being something completely brand new are very limited. Moreso now than ten or so years ago. But there must be some reason Hollywood don’t publish as much new content as they used to. Well, of course there is, and here’s why.
It’s a gamble
What worries a lot of people about original content is, can it really live up to the money a sequel or reboot could make? I mean, with sequels and reboots, you already have a fan base that you can build on. I’m not saying there can’t be fans of a film, but it’s difficult to build a following for a new film if everything is going wrong.
Trying to build a new film series is even more difficult. One of the main problems is that, if the fan reaction isn’t there, chances are you won’t be getting that sequel you desperately need. But it’s not all down to money, of course it’s not. Sometimes things just don’t work out. There was supposed to be a Ghostbusters III, but instead we got a terribly redone version last year, over glossy. Basically, it was given the “Hollywood treatment”.
With an established film series like The Matrix, it’s very easy to continue working on it or even reboot it. Which is apparently what’s going to be happening. Can a reboot work? No, of course not, especially not if Keanu Reeves will be absent. But the thing is, it’ll cause enough controversy to at least get some press coverage and maybe make it’s money back. The new Ghostbusters (2016) film didn’t, so the hopes of that sequel have been thankfully culled.
Brands make more money
The thing about Hollywood is that it is a business. What does a business make their main aim? Well, their main aim will of course be to make as much money as possible. What makes the most amount of money when it comes to the box office? Sequels, reboots, remakes and superheroes. Those are what currently make the money.
Even dreadful films like The Green Lantern (2011) made a small profit. On a budget of $200 million, it made £219.9 million back. So what about brands like Star Wars? Well, the most recent film in the series, Rogue One (2016), made over one billion dollars at the box office. That’s mind bending. So why take a chance on a film like Baby Driver (2017), which only made 175.1 million at the box office.
Hollywood as of late is very hesitant to push into unique and original ideas. If it can’t be made into a sequel or something more than the base product, then what’s the point? Well, there are a few exceptions. A lot of Pixar films have been one off and no sequels have even been considered. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be making a hell of a lot of money with the toys, games and more.
A lacking of direction
Let me be clear, there are currently a hell of a lot of talented directors producing original content. Quentin Tarantino, Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan are always trying to work on something new and unique. But rather than a lack of direction, it’s rather that some directors really won’t leave their comfort zone.
Directors like Ridley Scott, while really good at their craft, are now sticking to their comfort zone. Why wouldn’t he stick to making the Alien films though? It’s a popular franchise and it’s most likely going to continue making money no matter how critically well the sequels perform. On a budget of $97 million, it made $232.7 million, so the series is still making money. An even better example is James Cameron, who has decided he’s going to churn out another four Avatar sequels.
You have to remember that Hollywood and the film industry is a business. Sometimes the wants of the fans don’t interlink with the needs of the business. Money is always going to be priority. Wes Anderson, a genius director, barely makes a marginal profit on a lot of his films, yet critics love it. There are times where critical opinion doesn’t match up with revenue, and vice versa.
A lack of creativity in Hollywood isn’t necessarily bad. Sure, it’s not beneficial for the fans, but it’s what’s going to make money. Don’t get me wrong, there are most definitely original directors working today that can still produce amazingly brilliant and unique films. What I believe is the problem is that sequels are just easier to make a profit off. Why take a risk of making something fresh and new when you can have a pretty much guaranteed success with something already made?
It’s highly unlikely that a sequel will fail in any sense of the word, there’s no real reason to not make one. There are those rare occasions where a movie that already has the brand behind it will fail. The recent Ghostbusters is once again another great example of that. But even the critically shunned films are doing pretty well for themselves. Resident Evil has been going strong and has finally concluded, making over $1 billion dollars from all of it’s films. That’s something to be applauded right there.
Is creativity dead? When it comes to original ideas, I’d say it is. Mainly because it’s heavily outweighed by the amount of sequels and remakes we’re getting. Even films based on video games and books are coming back into the mainstream. At this rate, the only originality we’ll have will come from the script and acting. Which isn’t a bad thing, but you can’t beat an originally crafted film every now and then. Especially when you compare it to the countless amounts of sequels that are released yearly.