The next time you go to the cinema, ask yourself: am I watching an original film, a sequel or a remake? These days, chances are the films you see are either sequels or remakes. A surprising number of Hollywood films released these days aren’t originals. Instead, they’re either sequels that have been made to cash in on a popular film, or remakes made to bring a commercially successful series to a new audience. These days it seems that the big studios are focused on
So just what is an original film?
For this article, we’ll define an original film as one that’s based on an entirely new story / idea that the audience haven’t been made aware of before. Movies based on books, plays, comic books etc., don’t count as originals because the audience will know what to expect when they see the film adaptation. Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t an original – it’s an adaptation – because it’s based on the book that somehow became one of the biggest selling books of all time; the movie San Andreas is an original because it isn’t based on a new story created just for the film.
Let’s look at 2015. Of the top 10 highest grossing movies, the only completely original one was Disney’s Inside Out – the rest of the top 10 included sequels and adaptations of existing stories.
It just so happened that a lot of the year’s biggest box office bombs were originals. So it seems that movies based on entirely new stories generally just don’t attract as many cinema-goers as remakes and sequels.
Why the focus on sequels and adaptations? Because filmmakers know there’s an existing audience who will want to see the film. Sequels are churned out a lot because if a film is successful, chances are people will want to go and see the next instalment. Adaptations are made because if a series – let’s take The Hunger Games, for example – has a large fanbase, then you’ve already got a sizeable number of people who will go to the cinema to see the adaptation of the book they’ve read.
What about remakes?
Remakes are popular these days. Some of the many films getting remakes in the next few years include The Craft, Jumanji, Three Men and a Baby, The Birds, The Mummy, Poltergeist, WarGames, Commando, Porky’s, Ghostbusters and It, to name just a few. Why do so many movies get remade? It’s simple: money. Remaking a film gets a lot of press, it gets people who saw the original interested and if the original was a success, chances are the remake will be a success. Some are even more successful than the original: take the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, for example. Released in 1971 and rereleased in 1996, it made just $25 million, whereas the remake, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which was released in 2005, made a huge $475 million against a budget of $150 million.
Giving the audiences what they want
So why are there so many sequels, adaptations and remakes? It’s partly our fault. We flock to see these films in our droves and Hollywood responds by making more of them. Hollywood is in a way playing it safe by not producing more original films – what it really boils down to is money. If original films fared better overall at the box office, we might see more of them. There will always be originals, of course, but a lot of them don’t do that well because it’s the sequels, adaptations and remakes that get people talking.