Death of Creativity: Are sequels killing the film industry?

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Are franchises killing the creativity of today’s film industry?

By Toby Garside

Two decades ago, in 1996, the ratio between original concepts and unoriginal concepts (sequels, adaptations, re-makes, etc…) in cinema was 59.86% (85 films) original concept and 40.14% (57 films) being unoriginal, with adaptations making up 33.80% of that number. A decade later, in 2006, the ratio dropped by 6% leaving 54.74% being original concepts and 45.26% being unoriginal concepts, with adaptations still making up the vast majority but with sequels not far behind. Fastforward another decade to the present day, we see a drastic change in the ratio between original and unoriginal, with unoriginal concepts being the majority of modern cinema releases at 55.19% and 44.81% being original concepts. That’s an 15% drop in 20 years. So, what’s the cause?

In 2016, we live in an era of endless sequels and spin-offs: adaptations, sequels of adaptations, sequels of sequels of sequels of adaptations – you get the picture. We live in a time where Hollywood and major production companies are not taking risks but rather sticking to a formula. “Why make something new, when you can make a sequel to the highest grossing film of last year?” or “We could make film based on a popular comic or book franchise.”

The age of creativity in film is slowly dying but adaptations and sequels are not to blame. Who doesn’t want to see their favourite book series or character come to life on the big screen? The real problem is not the films but rather the people who call the shots. The people in suits, nice cars and big houses; they make the final decision on whether an idea goes on to be a film or gets destroyed in the overflowing rubbish bin by their desk. To them, filmmaking is not an art form but rather a source of income, why would you risk making a new idea when you could just make sequel to a popular film? It’s easy money. And there you have it. Money. Money is the death of creativity in cinema.

Money has always been the major factor in the cinema industry, money is everything to a production company. Money didn’t change the industry but the way  money is being made has. In the past, you didn’t make money from creating endless streams of sequels that clogged up the box office but rather from creating new films and ideas. It was a race; who would be next to release a bold new idea? Sadly, we now live in a world where the way to make money is to keep producing the same product until it slowly dies. After a few years, they can reboot the franchise carrying on the circle of life. But, is it just the production companies fault?

Money and production companies are not the only problem, we are. We, the audience, are also accountable, since we are the ones giving them money. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to enjoy a particular franchise but we have to remember the film industry is a service of goods. If the production company didn’t make enjoyable films then they would start losing money, so they cater to our every need. We enjoyed Marvel Cinematic Universe; well here, have a bazillion spin-offs, sequels and team-up films. We enjoyed Lion King and other Disney classics; well here we’ve got them all remade for you.

At the end of the day, production companies are here to make money and to make that money they need to make us happy. The fate of the film industry is in our hands. If we want new films, then we should encourage them by going to watch them at the cinema and if we want a sequel to a summer block buster, then we should encourage that. All in all, we should support the new and creative ideas of the film industry but also enjoy our favourite franchises.

Do you agree? Send your thoughts to HumanityHallows.editor@gmail.com

Toby Garside is a third year filmmaking student. He enjoys screenwriting, science fiction and fantasy.

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