HOLLYWOOD WRITER’S BLOCK? SEQUELS, REBOOTS, & REMAKES

If there is one constant in the modern-day movie industry, it’s the steady barrage of motion picture sequels, reboots, and remakes that bombard theaters each year. For a while now it’s seemed as if the sheer number of sequels, reboots, and remakes has steadily grown from year to year. Just look at 2011. The year featured reboots such as “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” and “X-Men: First Class”. We also got several pointless remakes like “Footloose”, “Fright Night”, “The Smurfs”, and “Arthur”. And of course, the year was loaded with sequels from popular “franchises” such as Harry Potter, The Transformers, Twilight, and Pirates of the Caribbean; animated films like “Cars 2”, “Kung Fu Panda 2”, and “Happy Feet Two”; and a host of other stuff ranging from “Spy Kids” to “Scream 4” to “Hangover 2”.

That was last year. Just take a look at what we have already seen and what we can expect for the rest of 2012. It’s still early in the movie year and we’ve already seen remakes like “21 Jump Street” and “The Three Stooges” and a host of sequels such as “Journey 2”, “Wrath of the Titans”, “Underworld Awakening”, and “Ghost Rider”. To add to it, this year we have already seen  3-D re-releases of three movies: “Star Wars: Episode 1”, “Beauty and the Beast”, and “Titanic”. Here’s just a sample of what’s still coming out this year:

  • “Men in Black III” (sequel)
  • “Piranha 3DD” (sequel – I guess)
  • “Madagascar 3” (sequel)
  • “G.I. Joe: Retaliation (sequel/reboot)
  • “The Amazing Spider-Man” (reboot)
  • “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (sequel)
  • “The Dark Knight Rises” (sequel)
  • “Step Up: Revolution” (…….sigh…..)
  • “The Bourne Legacy” (sequel)
  • “Total Recall” (remake)
  • “The Expendables 2” (sequel)
  • “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2” (sequel)
  • “Resident Evil: Retribution (sequel)
  • “Paranormal Activity 4” (sequel…kinda)
  • “Red Dawn” (remake)
  • “Skyfall” (sequel)

There are several more that you can expect to see in 2012 but you get the point. It seems that sequels and remakes aren’t a big thing these days. They’ve become commonplace. Now let it be known that there are some movies on the list that I am really excited about seeing. It’s also true that some sequels are incredible movies. It’s also worth noting that THE TOP 9 GROSSING MOVIES of 2011 were sequels which shows that there is an audience for them. So it certainly isn’t a question of bad financial decisions and it’s certainly not unreasonable to make movies that will sell tickets. But it begs the question, is there a shortage of originality and creativity in Hollywood?

I can remember when a movie sequel was a pretty big deal. You didn’t see many of them and when you did it usually drew a lot of attention. That’s certainly not the case today. And Hollywood’s sudden affection for remaking 80’s movies and TV shows has led to more head-scratching results than memorable films. I guess in a way that’s my biggest concern. Just how many of today’s sequels, reboots, and remakes are really good, memorable films? How many will stay with us for the rest of our lives. How many are just easy money grabs that have little to no lasting impact? I tend to think more of them are utterly forgettable than true movie treasures.

But as I mentioned, not every sequel, reboot, or remake is bad. Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” not only rose above the superhero genre but it was an incredible movie. This year’s “The Dark Knight Rises” is my most anticipated movie of the year. And there are still many good quality filmmakers that are making great original movies for us to enjoy each year. Add in independent films and foreign cinema and there are several outlets to discover good movies. But so much of Hollywood’s efforts and resources are going into treading the same water that I can’t help but wonder, is the struggling industry desperate for dollars at the theater or does Hollywood have a bad case of writer’s block that only seems to be getting worse?

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7 thoughts on “HOLLYWOOD WRITER’S BLOCK? SEQUELS, REBOOTS, & REMAKES

  1. I don’t think it is getting worse. Personally don’t midn sequels and the fact that something is either a reboot or a sequel doesn’t mean it is bad, like you say. They still need to be written, which is almost as big of a creative process as writing a new movie (sure you already know the characters and have some general idea), but a sequel/reboot does mean almost as much work to get it out there. Then there are tons of new movies out each year as well which are bad.
    I watched an interview with Werner Herzog and he said that each year only delivers 3 or 4 great movies and he’s got a point.

  2. Thanks for the comments! You make good points and I agree with what you’re saying. And to be clear, there are several of those movies I mentioned that I’m genuinely excited about and will be seeing in the theater myself.

    But maybe “worse” isn’t the right word – maybe they’re becoming “more prevalent”. For example, look at the number of sequels in, let’s say, 1982. Then compare it with the number of sequels in 1992, 2002, and 2012. I think there’s been a steady increase.

    You’re certainly correct that it takes a lot of effort to put together a good sequel. But I do feel that many sequels are looked at as easy money while others are made with no justification at all.

    Thanks again for checking out the post. It’s certainly a good topic for discussion.

  3. It’s difficult. There’s too many awesome exceptions that make me happy they do so many remakes and sequels. I’m more against remakes. I’ll be especially distraught when they start remaking my favourites. Then again, I’ll probably stay away when they do that. I love too many sequels to be anti them. But then I can’t believe how many films get a sequel. How did Clash of the Titans get a remake? No one liked it did they? It’s our own fault, we all go and see them so if we want more originality we need more people who want to see original films. There’s still plenty out there for those of us who look so it’s all good with me! Great post!

    • Gulp…In the interest of full disclosure and honesty…I was one of the 5% that liked “Clash of the Titans”. “Wrath of the Titans”…not good at all. LOL! I’m guilty as charged!

  4. “Men in Black III” (a bit late don’t you think)

    “Piranha 3DD” (gonna be a carbon copy of the first movie. Might check it out on DVD if I’m in the mood for some T & A & gore… or just watch the first movie again)

    “Madagascar 3″ (sigh)

    “G.I. Joe: Retaliation (did people actually like the first movie?)

    “The Amazing Spider-Man” (doesn’t look promising)

    “Ice Age: Continental Drift” (just stop)

    “The Dark Knight Rises” (looking forward to this)

    “Step Up: Revolution” (how many of these things are there now?)

    “The Bourne Legacy” (Isn’t this a reboot? Don’t like the series so I won’t bother)

    “Total Recall” (Could have done something interesting with this, but the trailer looks absolutely generic)

    “The Expendables 2″ (First one was dire, skip.)

    “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2″ (should check out the first part at some point, I really want to see how they did the vampire C-section I keep hearing about)

    “Resident Evil: Retribution (who watches these?)

    “Paranormal Activity 4″ (hasn’t the gimmick been worn out by now? How long before this series goes direct to DVD?)

    “Red Dawn” (Bet this ends up being Battle LA with kids, a movie made to cash in on the popularity of video games like Call of Duty, Red Alert, Freedom Fighters, Homefront)

    “Skyfall” (I’ll go see it. Will Craig redeem himself after the terrible Quantum of Solace or will his bond be remembered the same way as Brosnan’s; good first film, average to crap subsequent films.)

    I think that the problem is that it costs so much to make movies nowadays. Somehow we’ve gotten to the point where a movie like “the 40 Year Old Virgin” costs upwards of 25 million dollars and you can’t make an action movie for anything less than 100 million. And when you’re slinging that kind of money around you want to be sure that you’re going to get a return on your investment hence the large number of movies based on successful existing properties.

  5. I think the creativity well has run dry years, no decades ago in Hollywood. I mean, seems like every other movie released now is a sequel or remake. There are still good sequels but that’s quite rare these days.

    I’m with Pete, how could a movie like ‘Clash’ got greenlit, but then again, as long as people are willing to see ’em, Hollywood will keep making ’em. That’s why people like Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry are practically billionaires! 😦

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