Angelina Beltrani, Culture Editor
I am burnt out. I’m not sure where creativity has gone to die this semester, but it has left me without any warning. Thankfully, I do not speak for the entire creative community. I am surrounded by inspired people in my classes. I have heard countless intriguing and original story ideas. I’ve watched students bounce ideas off of one another. I’ve seen wildly different interpretations of the same prompt. And this is just what I’ve encountered in my studies at SUNY Oneonta; just imagine the whole campus. Then we could look beyond our school, and I think there would be no argument that there is an endless amount of talent and creativity waiting to be discovered.
Yet, if we look at the stories Hollywood is giving us – they’re lackluster. We are bombarded with sequels, remakes, and reboots. If you look at the most recent box office trends based on gross income, the week of Nov. 3, 2019, the reboot “Terminator: Dark Fate” stands at number one followed by the sequel “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.” “Joker” is number three – a character and backstory we are all familiar with. Not far behind, we have the remake of “The Addams Family” coming in fifth and the sequel “Zombieland: Double Tap” in at sixth. Thesr are just the most recent examples I found, but we know there has been an ongoing trend of digging up old ideas to create new content in film and television. I’m sure if I gave you a second, you could name several more. It’s not a bad concept inherently, but it has been done to excess in the past several years.
Why is this the case? Money. That’s no surprise; the film and television industry are businesses after all. Producers want to greenlight screenplays that have proven successful before because no one wants to make a movie that flops at the box office. For example, Forbes has dubbed “Joker” the most profitable comic book movie ever. So, it makes sense, right? Well, for all that it’s worth, “Terminator: Dark Fate” standing at number one didn’t stop it from losing money. The film was expected to make around $40 million but only came in around $29 million in the United States, and it only made $102 million internationally. The film cost $185 million to produce. Therefore, this movie isn’t making Paramount, Skydance, orDisney any profit. In fact, they are losing money. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” only made around $6 million in profit taking into account US and international income. And so, are old ideas really the safe option? Maybe. It might work sometimes, and it has as we can see with “Joker” and other films but, it doesn’t every time and yet producers still back up this way of thinking.
Why not take a chance on an original idea that has the potential to make millions? Why not create something with a little more artistic integrity? It’s not for a lack of ideas. About 50,000 screenplays are registered with the Writer’s Guild of America every year. And that’s just what is registered. It is scary to create. To construct something from nothing, you have to be the first person to believe in it if it wants to survive. It is even scarier to think the people who hold all the power will not believe in it simply because it is original.
As a consumer, I am tired of the same hackneyed ideas in media. Frankly, I think it’s also a really cheap way of feeding off our generation’s nostalgia which arguably I think my generation is particularly notorious for. It’s a tactic that can work, but as we’ve seen, it’s not foolproof. People want to be entertained, and we may be eating up some of these sequels, reboots, and remakes but only so many, and are they really sustaining anyone?
And on a final note, as much as I criticize the idea of rehashing old concepts, and I don’t support this logic but to get on level with a producer: this trend is only possible when someone takes a chance on a new idea. Once you do that, you can reap the rewards through sequels, remakes, reboots, etc. That’s only if you see the worth in something original. Is there really all that much to lose if it’s always a gamble anyway?