Why are films never original?

In the world of Hollywood, most major blockbusters are one of four things: Superhero, sequel, remake/reboot or adaptation of a book, usually a young adult one. Very few films nowadays are original. Sure Pacific Rim and Interstellar are two examples of original ideas, but it is rare to see a new blockbuster franchise spawn from something new.

I have nothing against the un-original blockbusters- all five of my most anticipated films of the year (Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Spectre and Star Wars VII) fall into one of the categories I mentioned above. The ones I’ve seen as of July (Ultron, JW) have been great, and I hope the other ones are as well . But that raises my first point.

In Hollywood, it is all about money. The big companies want to profit from their businesses, so they need to entice a way to get as many people into watching the movie. Let’s get a scenario up:

A Hollywood producer is offered three scripts, one of which they will finance and produce. Their company is struggling and they need a big hit. Do they-

Go for the script based of a book franchise with a huge, established fan-base? (I personally imagine this as a Skulduggery Pleasant script.)

Go for a original sci fi movie with an unknown writer and director attached?

Go for a romantic comedy movie?

Now, the most obvious choice is the first one. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, insert book here are all books with huge fanbases. Sure the romantic comedy may earn some cash but the original movie is a huge risk as there is no fanbase for it and it may struggle to make any money.

So the first reason is the fact that movies with a guaranteed audience will draw people in. That’s why the Marvel movies are so popular; people like the Avengers, show people it and when the sequel comes out a bigger audience is there. Jurassic World’s monstrous profits are built not only on new fans, but on the 22 years of fans the franchise has built up since the first film, whether they saw it in cinemas back in 1993 or saw it recently on DVD like me. It’s also why Skyfall was the first Bond film to earn over £1 billion- a 50 year franchise with a 50 year fan base, with plenty of new fans who like the newer films watching. It’s why I know both Spectre and Star Wars VII will be huge profits, as both are old franchises with years of fans ready to watch.

The same is with books. A popular book is going to have a ton of fans, so a movie already has most, if not all, of the fans ready to watch the movie. This is why it is important to not make the movie a bad adaptation, as that will annoy the movie’s intended audience.

Another reason why films always seem the same now is the idea of trends. Right now the trends are superheroes, young adult book adaptations and reboots. If the formula works, then logic dictates that the formula should be stuck with. Yes, people may find it formulaic and repetitive, but in the world of Hollwood it makes sense.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing, and I’m not complaining about the state of current movies, but it’s just interesting to observe movie patterns and trends.

So, what adaptations would I like to see? As I mentioned, I would love a Skulduggery Pleasant movie, with David Tennant as Skulduggery, as well as seeing a Hellboy III. Any superhero adaptation is welcome as well.

In a few years I expect there will be more originality, as there are only so many superheroes, books and sequels. As of now, the current state of movies don’t bother, but I understand  if it annoys some people.

What adaptations would want to see?Any books or TV shows which should make it to the big screen?

UPDATE: This post was started before the Series 9 trailer. Since the trailer is now out, to save another blog post, I’ll quickly give my thoughts on it.

So the trailer looks very dark and creepy. I love the music and the monsters in it; there are Daleks (including a Classic Dalek in the background), Zygons, some cool robots, zombie Abraham Lincoln, blue hollow-eyed ghosts and a weird horned insect creature. Missy is back and I think the hooded figure seen by the pool may be the previous Master’s decomposing body before he turns into Missy, which is what happened in the Classic Series. It’s great to see a variety of locations and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the Doctor. Oh yeah, and he plays the guitar and wears sunglasses. AWESOME!


3 thoughts on “Why are films never original?

  1. The aim of all businesses is to make money and film and television are no exception. If you can make money without taking risks, then why not do so.

    I agree with you about an inherited fan base being a big reason for adapting bestselling books, but remember that a franchise only develops if the first one is successful. If Jurassic Park had flopped, then I doubt that the follow ups would have been made. It is the same for the Indiana Jones – make a profitable first one and the money for the second one will be easy to raise. It is the reason that ‘Star Wars’ became a franchise and ‘Battlestar Galactica’ ended up as a television series.

    Unfortunately, when a genre becomes popular, you get a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon. One successful reality TV show breeds 20 on the same theme and one successful superhero movie results in 20 that have more or less the same plot.

    PS: I noticed you mentioned ‘Pacific Rim’ as an example of original film-making. Have you seen the follow-up ‘Atlantic Rim?’. This film is truly gob-smackingly awful. You have been warned!

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