Are fresh ideas a thing of the past in Hollywood?


Jonah Hex, Iron Man, Karate Kid, Amelia
Jonah Hex, Iron Man, Karate Kid, Amelia

I was checking my email and there it was on the Yahoo main page that Russell Crowe is in talks to do a remake with Paul Haggis. I couldn’t help thinking, yet another remake? Which is a strange coincidence the fact that my hubby just quipped last night how Hollywood is filled with oodles and oodles of comic-based flicks. Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, Thor, the list goes on and on and on. It’s as if Hollywood has this mentality that originality is for losers, as most people would rather pay to see Wolverine than say, Away We GoI can’t remember the last time I saw a film based on an original screenplay (Ok, ok, I’m finally gonna see Juno as my colleague just lent me his DVD). 

All this led me to deduce that most mainstream flicks being made lately fall into these three categories: remakes, comic-based or biopics. Wait, I’m forgetting one more: sequels! As soon as a flick’s box office hit at least twice its budget, you can bet a follow-up is already in the can. Horror films are notorious for this—we’ll be seeing SAW 12 before the decade is over—which seems to carry over to mind-numbing action fares such as Fast and Furious. Thank goodness indie productions are generally still on the artsy side, but you’d literally have to fight your way to find most of them in your local theater.

This site has tracked no less than fifty-five (you read that right, 55!) remakes in the works. And that was back in December so that number could very well double by now and some of them might’ve already been made. It came as a surprise to me that The Taking of Pelham 123 was a remake, and so is State of Play. I shook my head as I perused down the list, many of them aren’t good enough to begin with I couldn’t fathom why they warrant to be redone (I mean, Karate Kid? Seriously!)

It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago that seeing a superhero-type flick was a novelty thing. There were Superman in the 70s, Batman films in the 90s, but it seems as though once Bryan Singer’s X-Men became a huge hit at the turn of the century, a plethora of superhero-themed flicks began popping up faster than you can saw ‘pow!’ Just check out, a site that’s perhaps created to fulfill a niche market in the film industry. But now it has become the norm as original script is as rare as icicles in the sahara. Hardly a week goes by without a new comic/graphic novel adaptation being announced. Marvel and DC are constantly one-upping each other as the two main comic publishers, but Hollywood isn’t just adapting English-comics, there are a boatload of  International comics such as Japanese manga that’s still largely untapped by US market. 

Now, what’s Bruce Lee, Lance Armstrong and Judy Garland have in common? They’re all subjects of new biopics in the works. The trend of late seems to be female-based biopics. Julie & Julia (Julia Child), Amelia (Amelia Earhart) and Coco avant Chanel (Chanel fashion house) are all out this year. You don’t even have to be a ‘legend’ of sorts to be made into a biopic, rumor has it even Britney Spears will have its own biographical movie! And I’m sure you’ve heard the hullabaloo about Susan Boyle biopic, I guess now just being a contestant in some lame reality show gets you in the same league as Amelia Earhart? Oh well, the list is endless, with celebrities dead or alive being the answer of the industry’s creative drought. I’m not against biopics mind you, it’s just that Hollywood is habitually more interested in sensationalism than truth. But a handful of those do have merits, as we can all learn from somebody who has the courage to overcome adversity, or how an ordinary person beats the odds to follow his or her dreams. 

Likewise, there are well-written and good quality remakes out there (Scarface, Cape Fear – I bet you didn’t know Scarface was a remake, did you? Neither did I!). And some comic-based flicks can be as good as award-winning classics. The Dark Knight for one, is robbed of an Academy Award nomination.  

So who knows how long this trend will last, but my guess is they’re all here to stay. This blog says it best, the reason why they keep making them, is because we, the movie goers, keep paying for them.

4 thoughts on “Are fresh ideas a thing of the past in Hollywood?

  1. rockerdad

    Yes, an unfortunate trend that has continued since the 80s. Still, guilty pleasures abound: Silk Spectre spinoff…

    1. rtm

      Yes, at least there’s that… guilty pleasure. So when are you gonna get your Silk Spectre cutout for your cube?

  2. Mike

    In reality, the retelling of stories is par for the course throughout human history. As a child I read Hanzel and Gretel, and Jack and the Bean Stalk – very old stories. I think the film biz is recycling content because it’s not easy taking a risk with 100 million bucks and because of computer technology that can visualize many of these stories – thus making them new again. Watch for the film version of Knight Rider …

    1. rtm

      Yup, not all remakes are bad, but unfortunately most of them aren’t even worth the effort. Sorry, but Knight Rider would be one of them!

      Did you see my latest post? Now that’s one prequel I wouldn’t mind seeing!

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