Directors have always been hailed for their originality and it is those original ideas that carry through to an audience and make them say, “wow, I would not of thought of that”. An original idea whether it be the story, the cinematography or a twist in a plot can be the difference between a good film and a great film. However there is a dark cloud looming over the film industry as of recent years sequels and adaptations are taking control of the box office. Hollywood is at the brunt of the problem with 7 of the top 10 films (US) in 1981 being original and in 2011, 0 out of 10 of the top films were original. But it isn’t the director’s faults; many contracts come with the promise of money but with little self invention. Large industries such as Disney who have already established so many original films are pushing for sequels and remakes.
Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it has become more and more accessible and affordable for filmmakers to come forward and present their ideas. We are at a period of recycling and are feeding off by-gone tails like Alice in Wonderland and Hansel and Gretel to scrape at the ideas of originality. But why the problem? Why should we be worried that there are less and less original ideas? As an audience we flock into cinemas, pouncing on the newest creations in film but with all these sequels does it become predictable. In comedy if someone already knows the punch line to a joke, the joke is no longer funny and this is true for films. Technically it can be brilliant, but at the end of the day the audience is left thinking “Saw that coming” rather than “wow”. So what is the solution? Personally even though this is a modern topic around magazines, journalists and newspapers I don’t think we have to worry world wide events inspire film makers alike for example 9/11, 2012 are two significant recent events that effect everyone in some way, with everything that is going on in the world it leaves film makers the opportunities to find them and bring back the originality to cinema. Another question that needs to be asked is predictability something that would draw an audience in or push them away. On one hand if something is predictable as mentioned it could become boring and stale depending on how it’s delivered. For example nightmare on elm street (1984) was fantastic and ahead of the game for the horror genre at that time, as a slasher it frightened the audience not only on screen but off screen as it played on peoples real life fears of someone coming into a house and killing them (burglary). As an original film this also plays on the over exaggerated audience fear of violence in our social economic world. As an American film it reflected an era when the crime rate in America was at an all time high, burglaries were on the increase and this film plays on public fears, the fear that something could actually happen. It also has interesting connotations of this in the story plot where the characters real life fears are being brought out in their dreams and the audiences real life fears are being brought out by watching these dreams. However, as the sequels flooded in the simplicity of the first film was lost and it turned into a comedy / horror with the main character performing a rap at the beginning. Sequels are fine as long as they don’t lose sight of where they came from. Some Directors play on exaggerated violence / racial stereotypes and explicit language to evoke emotions in an audience for, example Django Unchained directed by Quentin Tarantino was helped in terms of popularity because of the negativity towards the film which helped fuel its success. This links to the effects debate and oppositional audience responses when looking at the uses and gratifications theory. Quentin Tarantino directs Django in a way that goes against the mediated and non – provocative needs of the audience evoking an oppositional audience response. This audience represents a focus group for the effects of violence and how it ties into our own ideologies of social protocols.
Originality can also be mistaken for something that we haven’t seen for a long time and maybe forgotten about. For example Paranormal Activity was one of the first mainstream handheld camera horrors but in fact it was derived from the blare witch project. And the reason the Blair Witch Project came about in the first place was because of the rise in accessibility for hand held cameras. Originality can also be linked to the directors themselves. When you go to see a film you can tell which film has had an influence from a specific director. For example Christopher Nolan adds a sense of drama and seriousness to his films, the “Christopher Nolan Treatment” is a phrase now reflected in his adaptations of comic book classics with Superman to take the next leap forward.
In conclusion we have nothing to worry about. New directors will come along with a fresh take on things and old directors will explore new areas. Socially we will change and film will adapt to that change. In terms of audience the quality of the films are still there it is just the critical opinion of them that has changed, the fact that adaptations and sequels should be slated because they come from existing works is wrong, they should hold merit in their own right and will not lose the interest of the audience ads long as they don’t deviate from their roots too much. There are more ideas out there than their are people or even films most haven’t been realised yet.
- Sequels / remakes popular
- Money – directors / producers making films just for the cash.
- At a period of recycling, re-imagined fairy tales (Hansel / Gretel)
- Technology and social websites growing, filmmakers can put forward their ideas easily. (YouTube)
- Safe investments, putting money into ideas that are proven to work (Marvel).
- Basing films on recent events
- The fact that as we develop and things change movies will move forward as well
- Paranormal activity – safe investment, makes money, has room for sequels
- Safety of current economy. Audience sees something they like, they spend money on it, they will want to see something similar, which is where sequels and their demand come into play.
- Directors looking beyond the standard model (Quentin Tarantino)
- Who’s to blame, Hollywood or us?
- Answer in marketing for riskier original ideas, audiences will want to watch them, for example the artist.