Remakes, Sequels, Reboots... Does Hollywood Need Help?

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Today we live in an interesting age of Hollywood. Each year we get a plethora of original films to feast on€we also seem to get more and more sequels and remakes. And reboots. And adaptations. It€™s something you€™ve no doubt heard before. Or you€™ve at least considered it: Hollywood often seems to make it look like there are no original ideas left in the world. While I€™ve adored many of these films, I€™ve also found myself wondering, am I part of a bigger problem here?

A quick look over the major films listed on IMDb for 2013 reveals that this year we will receive 30 sequels, 3 prequels, 2 reboots, 4 remakes, 1 spin-off and 7 major adaptations. And that€™s just what I found in the 250 most popular titles for 2013. Imagine what we would find if we went through the entire year€™s output! Some generous maths will tell us that about 1 in 5 of these films are not original ideas. But let€™s also take into account that a massive portion of these films will not be theatrical releases. What we get is roughly 40 out of 110 major theatrical releases this year are rehashes of content that already exists. That doesn€™t actually sound so bad at first, but this is just because we are so conditioned to the idea that Hollywood churns out sequels that 70 original films sounds like progress. We aren€™t seeing the reality of the situation. Almost half of these films are not original content. It seems like we could just naturally flock to the original films and show Hollywood where we stand; but the general audience won€™t do that. Most people will go to the movies they recognise and understand. I guarantee that we will be hearing a lot about Iron Man 3, Paranormal Activity 5, Anchorman: The Legend Continues and Monsters University this year. Meanwhile plenty of original films will slip under the radar.

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That€™s not to say there aren€™t plenty of excellent original films shaping up to get attention this year. The incredible looking Neill Blomkamp effort Elysium will definitely make a splash and surely the conclusion to the Blood & Ice-Cream trilogy, The World€™s End, will get some special attention. But we can€™t ignore the fact that each year, these films are coming up against bigger and more brutish box-office rehashes (that€™s what they are let€™s not kid ourselves). Look at the Marvel universe. I adore these films, but at what cost do they come to the original market. With Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World each staking a massive claim on a different end of the year and a number of other superhero epics filling out the gap in between, how can we expect original works to thrive. What I€™m trying to figure out, at the moment, is whether this is a genuine issue that we, as the audience, should be concerned about; or whether this €˜sequel epidemic€™ is more akin to a Hollywood global warming. Everyone€™s making a big fuss about it...but it may well be that it€™s all going to level out naturally in time. To figure this out I€™ve come up with a simple solution: look back in the ages. Here's what I discovered... Let€™s go back exactly fifty years. I looked at the top 250 titles on IMDb for the year 1963 and I was able to pick out 3 sequels and 4 adaptations. Now I€™ll be the first to point out that I€™m only 18 years old at the time of writing and, even with extensive hours of film viewing, I€™m not going to be a natural at recognising sequels of the 1960s. But the lack of titles including the term €˜return€™ or a numbered bookmark tell me a lot. Sequels were a lot less popular fifty years ago. A LOT less popular. Some more quick maths tells me that we get about 5 times more sequels today than we did 50 years ago. So when did the onslaught begin? Let€™s travel forward 25 years to 1988. Looking through IMDb this time, I found 29 sequels and 3 adaptations. Something changed in those 25 years. And I think I€™ve figured out what. Looking through this list something became apparent to me...franchises were taking off in the 80s. Die Hard, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Rambo... sound familiar? They€™re all still being produced today. Action and horror were the most common culprits. The blockbuster had taken off. So who do we have to blame? Jaws of course; Hollywood€™s first blockbuster. Not that there€™s anything wrong with Jaws. It€™s an excellent film. But Jaws was the first massively successful film to put entertainment over meaning. It was quite probably the film that indirectly caused the popularity of the modern franchise. Obviously the 80s was the decade that fathered the franchise. Jaws, Back to the Future, Die Hard, Poltergeist and a million cheesy horror classics by Wes Craven and company. The list could go on for a long time. These films (and some of their sequels) are all excellent...but they produced a lot of crummy sequels. And what did Hollywood executives learn from it? Familiar rubbish sells better than unique gold. Nine times out of ten. Look how out of control things have gotten. There are over 40 non-original works coming this year. How many do you expect to be masterpieces? After all this research there€™s not a lot I can actually tell you that will solve the issue. Is it really all that serious? Maybe. But at the end of the day the movie industry is an industry... we can€™t stop these things being made. Instead all we can do is keep watching the original films. I imagine, since you€™re reading this, you already do. So instead here€™s a different appeal. Spread the news. Tell your friends and your family and people on the street if you have to. Don€™t let your friends go to Transformers 3 if Looper is on. Original films are still awesome! And there are plenty out there that are largely undiscovered. You might get a dud sometimes. But at least you can support some original efforts. Just remember to read the blurb before you go into the cinema. You won€™t be doing us any favours by supporting Movie 43.

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Matthew Murray is an 19 year old film student in New Zealand. He is addicted to music, movies, gaming and television and spends his time feeding the obsession! When he is not writing about these things, he is lining up for these things, talking to people about these things and sitting around dreaming about these things.