Staggered across this little observation that (gasp!) Hollywood studios are producing the same old crap over and over again. Whew that's an insightful insight if I ever saw one, insightful enough to send me on a rant.

Every studio is desperately seeking franchises, tentpoles, remakes, reboots, prequels and sequels. Original is a dirty word. It means having to start something from scratch with no safety zone. We know that books, plays, tv shows, videogames, theme park rides, comics and graphic novels are easier to make than anything original.
It's about fear of failure. In today’s Hollywood, it takes guts to be original.

Ok, an obvious take on an obvious trend. Even the author's take on Hollywood's unoriginality is unoriginal, but it was enough to spark a rant. I don't think Hollywood studios' reluctance to back original stories has much to do with "guts" as it does money. Making movies is a business, pure and simple. The theory goes that you'll make more money commoditizing a winning product (or formula) and selling it as many different ways as possible to as many people as possible in the least costly (and least risky) way.

Now I'm just a hothead spouting ideas, but I'll bet an IMDB membership1 that if you went back through the history of American film-making and studios you wouldn't see much embrace of originality then or now. How many pictures did Charlie Chaplin make doing the same shtick? Harold Lloyd? W.C. Fields? Mae West? Buster Keaton? How about Edward Robinson, James Cagney (forget Yankee Doodle Dandy) or Humphrey Bogart? All of them typecast and pigeon-holed because why screw around with a winning formula. If you found a persona that the public liked (they voted with their nickels), give them more of the same.

This isn't rocket science. Sure the spark of the idea may have been unique, but being grossly unoriginal is what every good business is founded upon.


1 Not actually a bet. Some restrictions apply. Offer void in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Utah, and on each major continent including Antarctica.


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