There’s a lot to be said about the state of originality in the film industry. It is an industry that has been dominated in recent years by remakes, sequels, and adaptations (comic book adaptations in particular). This has been compounded by the announcement, made by Disney recently, that Jon Favreau will direct a live-action remake of 1994 Disney animated classic, “The Lion King”. The announcement has raised more questions over whether or not Hollywood has finally ran out of original ideas.
Remakes have always and will always be a part of the film industry. In fact, some of our favourite films such as Star Wars “The Force Awakens” (a rethread of “A New Hope”), 2007’s “True Grit” and 2004’s Dawn of the Dead are remakes. Even all-time classics such “The Departed and Scarface” are, in fact, remakes.
As for sequels, Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Back, Mad Max: Fury Road, Creed, The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War are all phenomenal. Not to mention, Godfather Part 2 and Terminator 2 are seen as among the greatest movie sequels of all time by many.
Truth be told, a lack of so-called “original content” no longer serves as much importance in Hollywood as it may have done before. After all, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, of the top 10 highest grossing films of the year so far in America - 5 are sequels. To name: Finding Dory, Captain America Civil War, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Jason Bourne, and Star Trek Beyond, two are comic book adaptations: Deadpool and Suicide Squad. Four if you include Civil War and BvS and one is a remake - The Jungle Book. That leaves just Zootopia and The Secret Life of Pets as “original” concepts.
So judging by this, films that are sequels, remakes and adaptations making a lot of money. In fact, some of the eagerly anticipated films this year are not, as film purists would call, original. Films such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are merely extensions of other film franchises.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stinkers that are either remakes or sequels or adaptations (Transformers for example) and original ideas are always welcome, but any problem relating to Hollywood “running out of ideas” is massively overstated.
For starters, as discussed, many remakes are very successful at the box office and at the end of the day, this is what matters to studios. Even Avatar - the highest grossing movie and one of the most overrated movies of all time - borrows plot elements from a litany of different movies making it a semi-rethread of sorts.
Not only that, while there are a lot of poor attempts at money grabbing when it comes to remakes, reboots, adaptations and sequels/prequels, many films of that sort are fantastic and ground-breaking. Hell, the Jungle Book remake was a far better and more rounded film than its 1967 predecessor. As well as that there is Toy Story 3 (a film I was dreading before release) which then established itself as one of the greatest sequels of all time and I will take on anyone who says otherwise.
Originality will always hold a place in Hollywood. For every Disney live action reimagining, there is original magic such as the all-time classic Inside Out or Zootopia. For every Paranormal Activity sequel, there is Don’t Breathe or It Follows. Hollywood has not run out of ideas and as long as there are creative and gifted storytellers, it never will. Besides, be careful what you wish for as it’s clear successful originality spawns sequels.