For a long time now, people have been saying that Hollywood have no original ideas. While we’re getting into double figures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a seventh installment in The Fast and the Furious franchise, new properties are becoming less and less common. But why is that? And is it actually true?
So, congratulations to both Fast and Furious 7 and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, for both making it into the billion dollar club. It’s safe to say a lot of people saw both of these films, and for good reason. Not only did they have good, broad appeal, they were both largely good films. So that brings us up to Tomorrowland. Again, this is a film I enjoyed, although a lot of other people didn’t, but even before all the reviews were out and word of mouth had badly damaged it, Tomorrowland seemed to be a failure. It had a great cast, a director with an excellent track record, and an excellent trailer.
So how did it fail? Also, the use of the word ‘fail’ here may not be entirely appropriate, as it’s still making a decent amount of money, just not for a film with a budget as big as the one Tomorrowland has. But anyway… There are a lot of things you could try and pin it on, but the big reason a lot of people seem to think is behind it is that Tomorrowland is an original idea, and audiences, just like studios, aren’t willing to take a chance on original ideas.
Take a look at the biggest flops of recent years. Jupiter Ascending, R.I.P.D., 47 Ronin, Chappie, to name just a few. And those are only the ones that have been huge financial losses, and not ones that have just under performed. To put it into perspective, it’s harder for an original film to be a flop, because less money is put into them, so for these films to lose up to $100 million is really quite mind-blowing. The big problem is that the same people who say ‘there are no original ideas in Hollywood’ are the same people who won’t take the chance on an original idea, just in case it’s not very good, but will still see Transformers: Age of Extinction, even when they hated all the other films.
So that sounds like a closing argument, but there’s something else I want to discuss. Can a sequel be original? The answer, for me, is a resounding yes. A film might have characters you’ve seen before, be set somewhere you’re familiar with, be part of a genre you’ve seen a hundred times, or even be two or more of those things, but if the story or the way it’s presented is new, then that counts as originality. Terminator 2 was a sequel, and by no means the first sci-fi action film of its time, but nobody had seen anything like it at the time. The Avengers was the sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it showed audiences something they’d never seen before.
Perhaps this is a topic for another time, but I think it’s a ridiculous claim that nothing original is coming out anymore. On top of everything I’ve already said, take a look at the upcoming film slate, and count how many are sequels, prequels, remakes or reboots, and how many are new properties. When you actually think about it, it’s pretty difficult to make an argument that there are no new ideas in Hollywood.
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