Rehashing old ideas in Hollywood

The endless array of prequels, sequels, and adaptations needs to stop, and Hollywood needs to regenerate some of the creativity it once possessed.

The trend in the film industry has been to create prequels, sequels, and adaptations of the same films with the same character, the same plot line, and more of the same action sequences. Dramas, comedies, and romantic comedies have become few and far between with the onslaught of action and fantasy movies.

But, why this type of movie? Dr. Herbert Gooch, a political science professor that teaches a class in politics in film says there are two reasons.

“One, the audience that turns out in the highest numbers tends to be young, and so they like the action, they like the fantasy,” said Dr. Gooch. “Two, Hollywood these days, as a whole, makes over half of its products abroad.”

The film industry is catering toward movies that contain little dialog, a simple plot, and a ton of action so that the foreign audiences can more easily follow the film.

Senior Jason Oberg, a communication major with an emphasis in film and television production, said studios focus too much on the foreign market.

“Studios seem more preoccupied with a global budget as opposed to a domestic budget,” Oberg said.

This summer is a great example of focusing too much on the international market. According to businessinsider.com, the fifth transformers movie, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” grossed $244.4 million domestically and $828.1 million abroad. Clearly, the market was not targeted toward a domestic audience.

For a number of reasons, the summer 2014 box office did not do nearly as well as domestically as the film industry had predicted. Businessinsider.com said the 2014 summer box office was behind 15% from summer 2013.

“’Guardians of the Galaxy’ is now the only film [of summer 2014] to go over 300 million, but if you look back at last summer ‘Iron Man 3’ or ‘Despicable Me’ both went way over,” Dr. Gooch said.

According to Dr. Gooch, the summer season is where the film industry receives 40% of its revenue, so if the industry does not do well for the summer, it is very likely that the industry will do poorly for the year.

This drop in revenue might be enough of a blow to force the film industry to switch gears and focus a little more on the narrative and dialog. Keegan Guy, a communications major and aspiring actor, said the narrative of a film decreases in quality when more special effects are used.

“They’re wasting too much money on the visual aspect when the story is just as important if not more important than seeing things blowup,” Guy said.

It is doubtful that the film industry will drastically change to accommodate the domestic market, but a few key changes would make a world of difference. One of these changes is creating a film that is not a reproduction of an already existing film.

Looking at the top ten grossing movies of summer 2014, none of the movies had original characters. The movies are all sequels like “Transformers 5” and “22 Jump Street” or remakes of older movies like “Maleficent” and “Godzilla.”

The film industry is playing it safe with its blockbusters and sticking to what has worked in the past in order to prevent a flop. If Hollywood wants to keep America’s attention, it needs to give us something to hold on to.

Hollywood needs to give us something more than 120 minutes of action. Give us an interesting plot, quippy dialogue, characters we can relate to, and a message that makes us think about the movie days after we’ve stepped out of that movie theatre.

Then we can talk Oscars.

 

Julie Griffin

Published October 8, 2014