I Can Write That 2: Electric Boogaloo

It’s no secret that for quite some time Hollywood has been making ostensibly safe bets with remakes, sequels, and films based on franchised properties like comics, games, toys, etc.

As both a businessman and a writer, I completely understand making belt-tightened, smart business decisions in this difficult economic climate.  Choosing to invest in projects with built-in audiences is just plain smart.

Heck, I just plunked down a sawbuck to see the remake of True Grit… and it was good!

However, since piles of quality, original material collecting dust is the unfortunate by-product of this ever-growing trend, my question is…

Will the time come when original ideas again dominate the market?

I don’t have the answer, but a couple things over the last day got me thinking.

Sequels, Sequels and More Sequels!
The title of yesterday’s article over at slashfilm.com says it all: 2011 Will Break The All Time Record For Movie Sequels.

Here’s a snippet from this informative article:

“By the end of 2011, Hollywood will break their record for most sequels released in a calendar year. According to Box Office Mojo, 27 films released in 2011 will be sequels, up from 24 in 2003. That averages to about one every other week and about one-fifth of total wide releases. It’s almost impressive if you don’t consider the lazy, money hungry thought that had to go into such an exorbitant amount of unoriginal content (and that’s not even counting the innumerable other films based on previously released material).” read more…

If I take off my writer’s hat and look at this from a consumer perspective, this would be less of an issue if it weren’t for the fact that having a built-in audience seems to put less pressure on filmmakers to create quality films in some cases  (Transformers 2 anyone?).  Even as I write this, I can’t help but think about when I saw the trailer for the upcoming Transformers 3, my first thought was, “That looks awesome!  I hope it’s as good as the first one!”  I’ll certainly go see it in spite of my Transformers 2 movie-going experience.

To be fair, the opposite is also true in some cases.  Just look at the Harry Potter film franchise.  I enjoyed every one of them.

A Manager’s Comment
Yesterday, I got a reply from a Hollywood Manager after he read Sawbuck.  While he didn’t feel he was the right manager for the script, he confirmed what I suspected about him as a result of the research I did before sending out the query… that he’s a quality guy!

His feedback and market-related suggestions were very much appreciated.  As to the subject at hand, a comment stood out in one of his emails that shows a related trend in Hollywood:

“… what seems en vogue these days are revamped classic characters in the public domain but I’m not sure how sustainable they are or if I’d recommend writing one unless you had the absolute most exciting revisionist take on one of them.”

So, along with remakes, sequels and franchised materials, it seems that also crowding the attention of Hollywood decision-makers is revamped content in the public domain; making it even more difficult for original scripts to be considered.

I can only assume that — at some point — original material will again dominate the market.  But how long it will be until that happens is beyond my scope of knowledge.

So, I have a choice: I can either sit and bemoan the status quo or persevere to create exceptional, original stories.

Since I choose the latter, I will continue to seek that balance between what is true to my creative self and what I believe to be valuable to those on the “business” side of show business.


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