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Lack of Originality in the World of Movies: Should We Be Worried About It?

Is it always worth it to try and go for something known no matter what, or should filmmakers instead focus that innovation and talent to something completely new and original?

By Art-Peeter RoosvePublished 6 years ago 9 min read

The recent negative backlash to the new "Ghostbusters" trailer, what by now can almost be called "the Ghostbusters trailer saga", has once again reminded us of the interesting place where the world of movies is at the moment: Trying to find more and more original and inventive ways to remain unoriginal.

I am, of course, talking about the heavy emphasis on reboots, remakes, sequels, franchises, nostalgia and adaptions in todays movie industry. In short - A heavy emphasis on known content.

Since it is done to such a large extent, the creators must find more and more clever and inventive ways to bring these movies alive on screen in order to stand out form the competition. That promotes a question: Is it always worth it to try and go for something known no matter what or should filmmakers instead focus that innovation and talent to something completely new and original? Let's take a look at the situation in world of movies and from where does the lack of original content become a problem.

Reasons Why the Emphasis on Known Content Makes Sense

I want to stress out that this is not going to be a rant about how everything is so unoriginal these days, how orginiality is dying out and how messed up the movie industry is in general, since I don't necessarily view the current situation in such a negative light. Also, I don't think the heavy emphasis on known content is just a phase that the world of movies is going through. I consider it more as another aspect that is here to stay, since in the past we simply didn't have that much source material to latch onto.

Furthermore, while I don't think that the heavy emphasis on known content is a problem no matter what, there is a certain point where it indeed becomes one. Before I bring out from where it starts to be a problem, let's have a look at the reasons we have this trend and some more positive aspects of it.

It is easier to get right into the good stuff.

Although introducing or setting up a new and original concept in a movie can be done in many exciting and inventive ways, it is fair to say that you can really start exploring the ideas and potential, that the concept has, once the set up is done. For example, that is the reason why Dark Knight and Empire Strikes back managed to improve on their already brilliant predecessors (Batman Begins and A New Hope).

Therefore, if you have something that is already known to a bigger or smaller extent, it is easier to introduce it (set up) and then get right into the "meatier" part so to say. That also brings us to the next reason why this trend is not necessarily a negative one.

A concept can and should be approached from many different points of view.

From a certain point of view ;) ...

Pretty much no idea, concept or a subject in this world should be taken in black and white two dimensional way. There are always grey areas and different ways on how to intellectually approach something. Movies are no exception.

If someone creates a movie or a franchise or adapion, it is always done "from a certain point of view" (On a side note: I'm starting to think it is actually impossible for me to say that line without Alec Guinness' voice ringing in my head). That means, there is always a possbility to have another approach to concept of a movie.

I am not saying that remaking something from another point of view should always be done, but it can lead to a broader and more informed understanding on the concept and ideas behind certain movies.

People are more open to movies with background and source material they have previous knowledge on.

Well duh... That is kind of an obvious point but still deserves some elaboration.

If we are looking at it from box office point of view, then let's be blunt about it: If you go to cinema to see a film, you must pay. Although I think that giving new and different movies a shot is important and to be encouraged, I completely understand that if one is giving away money to see a film, then anyone would like at least some guarantee or insurance that it is worth it. A known content gives that, thus bringing in more profit.

Naturally, it would be a better idea to choose the movies you go to see in cinemas according to critic reviews, good word of mouth and people involved in the production. But if you are not much of a movie fan and rarely go to cinema, you are not going to "do your homework" on Rotten Tomatoes for example to see if it is a good idea to see a certain movie. A known content with some popular leading actors is more than enough.

I want to stress out that I don't want to sound snobbish by what I said above. I just want to point out that when you are not that big of a movie fan, you will probably make your choices according to more easily visible and straighforward aspects.

Also, it is not even necessarily about the financial side. For example, if you have a long day and just want to chill and grab some snacs to watch a movie, you are most likely going to pick something that you know.

The heavy emphasis on known content means better quality and higher standards.

One of them tried a bit harder...

As said before, since this trend is happening to a such a large extent, it means that known content alone is not enough and you need to have a fresh or at least an approach full of style and energy on the sequel, reboot or adaption for it to be a succsess.

For example, I think that some years ago pretty run of the mill "Jurassic World" would have gotten a lot bigger praise and people wouldn't have been as critical of the the flawed "Terminator Genisys". But because we have so many of these known entities of movie world brought back, there are also higher standards for them, since it makes filmmakers to be more inventive and work harder to create something truly spectacular.

It's not like we don't have original content anymore.

There is still plenty of originality left. We still get original movies with original concepts and they do get their fair share of recognition and critical praise. Probably the only thing is that the recognition comes from movie buffs and not the general public, which means smaller view numbers, smaller profit and smaller incentive for filmmakers to take risks in the future.

Bare in mind that original doesn't necessarily equal good and fresh. In the end of the day, all that is important, is that a movie is inventive, well made, well acted, entertaining and clever. Doesn't matter is it original content or not. But there is a certain line...

From where does this lack of original ideas become a problem then?

At least he is having fun...

In my opinion, the heavy emphasis on known content becomes a problem when it is done in a "no matter what" way and seemingly without really thinking about it.

Only known content no matter what...

As elaborated above, there are many logical reasons why we have this trend. However, it is disappointing to see a situation where there are these inventive ideas and talent, but it can only be applyed to something that is already known.

A few examples. It has been talked about for a long time that Tom Hardy or Idris Elba should be the next James Bond (still hoping that Craig makes another one though despite the rumors ;) ).

First of all, I have nothing against these choiches. Both are exellent actors. Furthermore, in Idris Elba's case, I definitely don't agree with that utter nonsense out there that "Bond can't be black". The essence of Bond, in my opinion, is simple. He is a bit burnt out, witty and sleek badass with dry sense of humor who often goes against the authority and doesn't just blindly follow orders. We have seen many brilliant interpretations of it and color of the skin is not a part of that essence.

But what I dont't get is that when Idris Elba or Tom Hardy are indeed so perfect to play a sleek sercet agent, why not just create a new character to them and just make a good spy movie? To sum up, the problem here is that this option doesn't even seem to be considered. It is only about Bond (a well establihsed entity) that is almost synonymous with the sleek secret agent.

Furthermore, there was jokingly suggested that Gillian Anderson should play a female Bond. Honeslty, it could be interesting but again - If we are serious about the idea, why not create an original movie with a female secret agent played by Gillian Anderson as the lead.

That also brings us to the new "Ghostbusters" movie. Do I have the slightest problem with all of them being female this time around? No. I really don't care and if anything, I welcome it. But again, I cant help but to think that why couldn't they just create a new and original premise where the focus is on a team of badass women (played by talented actresses) fighting some monsters.

In short, the main issue here seems to be that an original and new concept to express talent is not even considered.

Less Incentive to Be Original in the Future

Praised by critics... not much box office

As I touched upon already, it is never nice to see when a well made original idea's limelight is taken away by a sloppily made known content that just rides on people's familiarity with it, thus discouraging the filmmakers to try new things in the future.

Not the best track record...

There is a counterpoint to what I said earlier about the heavy emphasis on known content forcing the filmmakers to approach them in more ambitious and inventive ways. The thing is that it also brings along a situation, where many franchises and concepts become tainted by bad movies that were made of them only because it is a known content and therefore had to be taken up no matter what. Many classics should probably be left alone completely. That, in turn, makes it harder to explore these franchises and concept's true potetntial, since people now have distrust towards them.

To Sum Up

The heavy emphasis on known content has many good qualities and originality doesn't necessarily quarantee quality. The lack of original content, however, becomes a huge problem when it starts to limit innovation, bold artistic choices and openmindedness in general. Therefore, to answer the question set up in the introduction of this article: Talent and innovation can and should be applyed to both a known content and something completely original. As long as the final product (a movie) is well made, entertaining, ambitious and inventive, it doesn't matter if it is an orginal concept or not. Having said that, we should never forget that originality must have a place in movie industry and it should be encouraged.

All things considered, originality and emphasis on known content not only can, but must coexist for the world of movies to be in as strong position as possible :) .


About the Creator

Art-Peeter Roosve

So, to put it simply (and slightly cheesily) I'm fascinated with life. And, well, writing about films, TV shows, video games, music, travelling, philosophy and Formula 1 among other is a fun way to explore it.

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