There’s an old adage that goes, “Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it.” There’s another adage, a curse really, that goes something like, “I hope you get everything you wish for.” Both of these “curses” seem very appropriate for the current state of Hollywood.
Years ago, we’re talking early to mid cinema history here, movies spawned sequels. The Thin Man (1934) begat After the Thin Man (1936) which begat Another Thin Man (1939) which begat Shadow of the Thin Man (1941) which begat The Thin Man Goes Home (1945) and Song of the Thin Man (1947).
That’s a lot of begatting going on in early cinema. Universal Studio’s famous monster movies (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, etc.) all spawned sequels and spin-offs. Bob Hope and Bing Crosby starred in seven “road” movies from 1940 to 1962.
Let’s not forget the James Bond franchise started back in the 60s. There’s been a total of 23 Bond films with the 24th Bond film set to come out sometime in 2015.
Star Wars has spawned sequels and spin-offs in various forms since it debuted in the 70’s. Stallone and Schwarzenegger made their careers doing sequels during the 80’s and early 90’s. Almost every late 70’s and early 80’s horror movie spawned more Roman numerals than most people know.
Even the remakes people are complaining about today are not new to cinema. Remakes (they didn’t call them reboots back then, kids) were not unheard of in early to mid cinema history.
Both The Maltese Falcon (the one with Humphrey Bogart) and The Wizard of Oz (Judy Garland) were remakes.
An Affair to Remember (1957), starring Cary Grant, was a remake of 1926’s Love Affair. Beau Geste (1939) was a remake of Beau Geste (1926).
Pretty much every film buff can tell you The Magnificent Seven was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. Even Alfred Hitchcock remade his own The Man Who Knew Too Much.
The Three Musketeers has been made more times than any other movie in the history of film. Okay, I don’t have anything to back that claim up, but it sure seems like it.
Which brings up another point used to argue Hollywood is running out of ideas—all the books being made into movies. This isn’t a new idea either.
In the early days of cinema books were a natural go to for source material. The Maltese Falcon, Gone with the Wind, East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath, The Count of Monte Cristo, and pretty much most of the classic Victorian novels were fair game for studios. Batman, Superman, and Flash Gordon are just three characters that made the jump from the funny books to the silver screen.
None of these things are new concepts. Am I using history to back up the argument that Hollywood has not run out of ideas?
Yes and no. These movies were very popular and most are considered classics.
Here’s the thing- remakes, sequels, and movies based on books make money. The Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise has made over 3.7 billion dollars. Is there any doubt we will see a Pirates 5 and 6.
The Avengers in one of the the highest grossing movies of all time. Avengers: Age of Ultron, the sequel coming out this summer, will probably break some records.
Odds are we will see a lot more Avenger movies with a colon in the title. Iron Man 3 surpassed a billion dollars at the box office.
The Amazing Spider-Man came out to cries and jeers from fans of the original Raimi trilogy. “Why reboot a film when the last one wasn’t even five years old?” people asked.
They complained and whined all the way to the theater. The Amazing Spider-Man made over 750 million dollars at the box office.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes made almost 500 million dollars at the box office.
Ocean’s Eleven,Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Evil Dead, and Dr. Dolittle, just to name a few, all made money for the studios.
Movie based books like Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Divergent, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Da Vinci Code, World War Z, and many others all made money for the studios.
Some movies based on books like The Golden Compass, City of Ember and Parker failed on launch. But for every loser there is one or two that made money for the studios. It’s enough of an incentive for the studios to keep making movies people are already familiar with.
Here’s the hard truth of the matter-At the end of the day Hollywood is a business and, like any other business, they’re in it to make money.
Movie goers have historically shown that they will go see movies based on properties they know. More importantly, they have shown it economically.
Your average movie goer will not support creative or original movies. They spend their money on a remake, an established property, or a movie based on a book.
Hollywood, like any other business selling a product, will give the consumer what it wants or what they think they need. It’s basic consumerism; it’s Capitalism 101.
I don’t think so, but if you want original movies stop going to movies with numbers or colons in the title. Stop going to see movies based on a book you bought on Amazon. Go see creative movies (and while you’re at it define what you mean by original). Support a director like Nicolas Winding Refn, Wes Anderson, or Michael Gondry.
Support a director who’s breaking some rules or has a voice and is trying to say something. Support creative movie and story telling.
Have you seen The Sound of My Voice? Joe, Mud, Snowpiercer, Nymphomaniac, The Way Way Back, The Canyons, Ain’t Them Body Saints?
Hollywood will only make these movies if we support these movies.
Odds are you won’t search out the next David Lynch. Odds are you won’t see a John Favreau film unless it’s Swingers (which, of course, is a classic) or a comic book movie. However, I am willing to bet you will go onto Facebook, Twitter, the comment boards of your favorite website (we hope it’s this one) and espouse how bad Hollywood has become. You’ll rail that Hollywood has run out of ideas while not doing anything to change it.
The truth isn’t that Hollywood has run out of ideas. The truth is you ran out on Hollywood.