As usual, I wanted to see a movie last week, so I checked the Daily News for show times at my local theater (The Ritz in Voorhees has always been a personal favorite). Anyway, here were my main “big movie” options: Iron Man 2, Robin Hood, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Clash of the Titans. Also known as: Sequel, Remake, Franchise Reboot, Remake.
It seems like a recycled story is all that Hollywood will green-light for production these days. Whatever happened to original screenplays? You know, where the script is made from scratch by a creative person who imagines everything on their own, without old TV shows, books, or older movies acting as a blueprint? Case in point: Behold the 10 most anticipated movies of 2010, per Access Hollywood:
- Shutter Island (based on the novel by Dennis Lehane, release date Feb 19)
- Alice in Wonderland (remake, release date Mar 5)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (franchise reboot, release date April 30)
- Iron Man 2 (sequel, release date April 30)
- Robin Hood (remake, release date May 14)
- The A Team (based on the TV show, release date June 11)
- Eclipse (sequel, release date June 30)
- Inception (original screenplay, release date July 16)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (sequel based on the novel by JK Rowling, release date Nov 19)
- Green Hornet (based on the comic book series, release date Dec 17)
3 sequels, 6 franchise reboots/remakes,/based on “fill in the blank”, and only 1 original screenplay.
At the end of the day, movie making is a business, so money and profits are the ultimate driving force in deciding what scripts get made. The theory is, if audiences spent money on a film the first time around, they are more likely to return for Part 2. (Or 6, if you are the Saw franchise.) If you enjoyed the TV show Thundercats as a kid, perhaps you’ll shell out $10 to see the movie version (coming in 2012). Ditto for Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” books, which will be developed into a film by Ron Howard. From a business perspective this rationale is understandable, the economy has been rough these past few years, and no studio wants to finance the next Waterworld. Put the money into the safer bets. Risks are few and far between these days.
Studios should note though that not all recycled films with built-in audiences are success stories. Remember Speed Racer, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Land of the Lost? How about The Spirit, or Catwoman? Yeah, I wish I could forget too. All received bad reviews and tanked at the box office. All were backed by studios who thought the stories were already identifiable to the public, and therefore would draw paying audiences and significant profits.
But it’s not like original screenplays can’t make money- there was this little picture last year called Avatar. Highest grossing film of all time, and a completely original story thanks to Jim Cameron. Up, Inglourious Basterds, The Hangover, The Proposal, Juno, Wall-E… all movies written from scratch, all made huge profits for their respective studios and distributors. Problem is, for every one of these movies there’s a Wall Street 2, Toy Story 3, and Shrek Forever After.
Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely see some of the “Sequel-itis” films above once released. But to me, the best movies are ones that completely blow my mind by telling a story I’d never heard of, thought of, or seen before. The Matrix. Finding Nemo. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Inception (I’m hoping, can’t wait to see!). They make me leave the theater doing my best Keanu Reeves “Whoa” impression. They challenge me to think in new ways. They make me immediately call my other friends and say “go see this right now so I can talk to you about it!” Unfortunately these films are too rare these days. Which is a shame to us, the public.
But back to my Daily News search and Ritz dilemma- so what did I end up watching? The Phillies game on Comcast. Because at least then I didn’t already know the ending.