Are There Any Original Ideas in Hollywood Anymore?

Posted by Leah on 12/17/2015 10:50:11 AM

Article originally published on

        If you spend any time whatsoever watching TV these days I’m sure you’ve noticed one thing, that a LOT of what’s come out of Hollywood lately are sequels, prequels or repackaging of movies that have already been done. It seems like there’s something “new” every month,the most recent being Point Break and Star Wars.

                I know that repackaging movies isn’t anything new. Since the second decade of cinema, people have revisited films with the thought that they could do them better once the technology was better. The Hunchback of Nortre Dame, The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein, Dracula and many more have had more than their fair share of reboots, prequels and sequels, with one almost every decade since the very first in the 20’s and 30’s. At this point in time I’d almost say that it’s an unwritten rule and that if I don’t see a “new” version of these classics every few years I wonder what’s going on.

                But in Hollywood it seems that nothing is sacred these days and that not only are filmmakers “rebooting” more things than usual, but that each year there are more and more prequels and sequels to things that have come out in the past. This led me to want to do some digging. Are there really more reboots, prequels and sequels, or does it just seem like it? What are the ratios of original ideas to the various revisits? And if my hunches are true, what are we, the movie-going public, to do about it?

                I started by looking over the lists of every feature that has come out in the past three years on, but seeing that there are over 600 features released every year, I decided to focus on the top 200 only. According to my counts there were 52 revisits in 2015 (so far), while there were 148 original films. For 2014 the numbers were 67 revisits and 133 originals and for 2013 there were 68 revisits and 134 originals. What this all boils down to is a roughly 45% chance that a film released at any given time will be a revisit. I also took a look at the top 20 films for each of those years. Revisits took 37 of the 60 overall spots, which means that they held about 62% of the top box office spots for the last three years in a row.    

                Of course, just because revisits hold 62% of the top spots, that doesn’t mean that there are more of them over all. To get a clearer picture of whether this is just a trend or a bad habit, I had to look deeper. I had hoped to go way back, like to the 50’s or 60’s, to see if the same percentages would hold up then, but could only find reliable info back to the 80’s. Here are the 1980’s numbers.  There was only data from 116 features given and of the top 20 in 1980 only 3 were revisits of some sort. That’s a measly 15%. Out of the whole 116 there were 20 revisits, or roughly 17%.

                Comparing the numbers of the last three years to those of 1980 I think it’s plenty clear: while there are plenty of original films coming out every year, there are also more than a few revisits every year as well.

                As far as conclusions go, there are a few I can draw from all of this data, but I’m only going to focus on one. That is that Hollywood has a serious revisit problem, and we, the movie going public, aren’t helping matters.  The fact that 62% of the top 60 films from the past three years are revisits says loud and clear that people like things that are comfortable and familiar and that’s what they’d rather spend their money on. Hollywood has heard this message loud and clear and continues to pour more and more money into these films to make them so enticing that people just can’t say no, myself included. So what are we to do about all of this? Well, if we continue on the way we’ve been going I’m sure the revisit problem will only get worse. One solution to this problem is to decide, from now on, not to see any big budget revisits of any kind. But I know that’s easier said than done, especially since I’m sure all of us have invested a ton of time and money into various series, (Star Wars, The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, etc).

                A more realistic solution is to spend more time watching independent, original films. It’s time we all stepped a little out of our comfort zones and open our hearts and minds to the plethora of fantastic original films that are out there. It’s a little like trying new foods, some people are totally against it, and I get that. But just think of all of the wonderful new and original stories you’re missing by only sticking to what you know! Are all of them going to be instant classics? Of course not, but you lose out on so much more by ignoring them all together. So please, let’s band together and fix Hollywood, one original film at a time!