Originality in Movies Essay

I’ve always thought that originality was something to strive for. It seemed that doing something nobody had done before would yield the best results, but it now seems that may not be the case. After looking through AFI’s list of the top 100 films of all time, it is clear that the death of originality in Hollywood isn’t something that is keeping a film from being considered great and is in fact helping make more profit for the movie industry. Sticking to familiar ideas can ensure Hollywood they will get the one thing they want: money.

So why run the risk of losing money when they can remake a movie knowing they will profit from it? Whether it be a sequel, an adaptation of a book or television show, or the same exact movie shown in 3D, movie-goers seem to flock to plots and names they are familiar with. Recently, Finding Nemo was re-released in 3D and has already racked up over 30 million dollars in just two weeks. Nothing about the movie changed other than it is being shown in 3D. Fans across the country already own the movie on DVD, yet they still spend their money to go see it in theaters again.

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The same goes for Lion King 3D released last year. A movie that many people already owned grossed nearly 94 million dollars during its stay in theaters. Though these movies may not be defined as “great”, there are plenty of examples of great movies that are not original ideas. In AFI’s (American Film Institute) latest list of the top 100 films of all time, only one film is a sequel. However, many are based on existing material. Just in the top 10, seven are not completely original ideas. Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, The Graduate, and Schindler’s List are all based off book adaptations.

Casablanca is based off of the play, Everybody Comes to Rick’s; The Godfather is an adaptation of a novel by Mario Puzo; and Lawrence of Arabia is based off the writings of T. E. Lawrence during his time in an Arabian desert. This list makes it obvious that a film doesn’t have to be a completely original idea to be great and many of these films are still popular to this day. Just because the more popular movies aren’t original ideas doesn’t mean that there aren’t any original movies being made. Independent films are almost always original ideas. But because they are independent films, they do not et the publicity that the films made by major companies get. This could be due to multiple reasons. One reason being independent films are not advertised much. They do not get much recognition due to a low budget. They have a low budget because they do not receive enough publicity for more people to pay to see an independent film. It seems as though its one giant cycle that leads to more money for big corporate companies and less money for small independent companies. Occasionally, an independent film company will make a breakout hit that will end up being very successful.

One of the best examples of this is Little Miss Sunshine, released in 2006. The film was released through an independent company. It ended up having 55 award nominations and winning 52 awards, two of which were Oscars. Though it’s not something that is commonly seen, original films are still being made, and occasionally they will become great. It is also true that unoriginal movies may just be noticed more in this day and age due to the type of movie. Many people do not know that seven of the top ten all time films were not original ideas, yet they know that another Spiderman movie is clearly unoriginal.

Many of the movies released recently have been based on comic books and superheroes. Not many new superheroes are made up anymore, so nearly all superhero movies are completely unoriginal ideas. Unoriginal films are also easily noticed when they are sequels to another film. Often these sequels are necessary to finish the story, but sometimes unnecessary sequels are made. One major example of this is Scream 4. Scream 4 was released 11 years after Scream 3. It was an unnecessary sequel because Scream 3 supposedly ended the trilogy, however Hollywood made another one for more money.

Although films that were not original ideas have been made since the beginning of film, they were not noticed like they are in this day and age. It seems that the main thing Hollywood cares about is money, and they will make any type of movie that gives them what they want. They don’t strive for originality because unoriginal movies are what makes the profit. Whether it be through a sequel, a remake, or a book adaptation, Hollywood will continue to make movies based off other peoples’ and films’ ideas.


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