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Sequels, Remakes and Adaptations: Why Hollywood Won't Change

2 June 2011 by Richard Phippen

The Hangover Pt.2 (10)Critics say The Hangover Part 2 is just a rehash of the original

Looking at the up-coming summer, we realised sequels, adaptations and remakes are overpowering the release schedules. Rich Phippen looks back at the last twelve months to figure out why Hollywood is so obsessed with rehashing old ideas.

As tempting as it is to believe that it's a recent Hollywood trend, sequels, franchises, remakes and book adaptations have been a major part of the Hollywood production process for much of the movie world's existence.

From Gone with the Wind to Goldfinger, many of cinema's greatest moments began on the pages of novels.

And sticking with Bond, franchise has not always been a dirty word. Ever since Dr No, audiences have cried out for more 007 adventures, and weren't particularly bothered when the source material ran out, leaving screenwriters to come up with the likes of Die Another Day.

And in the 80s, nobody complained that George Lucas planned on making half a dozen more Star Wars movies.

Indeed, movie franchises have largely been responsible for the highest levels of anticipation, unless an 'original' movie gets incredibly positive word-of-mouth, they cannot compare in the anticipation stakes.

The Dark Knight - Billionaire Bruce Wayne owner of Wayne EnterprisesTake Christopher Nolan for example. After Batman Begins, audiences couldn't wait to see The Dark Knight. And likewise, each story we write up on The Dark Knight Rises piques our audience's interest.

But what about Inception? Apart from the few of us who got to see the trailer early doors, it wasn't until the advance reviews came in that the anticipation really kicked in for most.

So is it really a surprise that studios plough their millions of dollars into films that have a ready made fanbase?

The problem is, while we openly wish for adaptations, reboots and sequels to our favourite stories (ok, probably not reboots), we rarely feel any emotion toward a franchise that we don't like; instead we bemoan the lack of originality in Hollywood as Twilight 4 comes out, to the pleasure of a fanbase oblivious to exactly how cynically the studio is treating them.

The fact of the matter is, if we really don't like the ever increasing ratio of unoriginality, we would stop going to watch the movies, the bean counters would stop recommending scripts with numbers at the end of the tittle, or a colon halfway through.

But as you can see from the gallery below, Hollywood is still extracting an excessive amount of money from us by making paint-it-by-numbers sequels.

Nearly half of all releases last year were based on another film, book, or comic, and it's getting worse - in 2011, *** sequels and adapts will dominate the box office.

And when you break it down even further, only **% were regarded as critical successes.

Negative reviews for sequels are nothing new, and rarely something the studios fear. For with the likes of Saw, they don't even bother with press screenings, knowing full well the fans will find out the movie is there, whether the newspaper reviewers get to slag it off or not. 

The Karate Kid, which received a lukewarm reception from reviewers, justified its existence with a haul of $176m Stateside, and even more depressingly, the utterly atrocious Little Fockers scammed over $148m.

But, there's hope. Sex and the City 2 has one of the most rabid fanbases, with the first movie sucking in over $***m. But, whether it was the critical reaction, or the word of mouth, which can only become more prevalent in the social networking era, enough fans steered clear to make a third movie highly unlikely.

The same applied to The A-Team, a movie over 25 years on the making. Perhaps its target audience is too old, too weary of 80s nostalgia to care.

Whatever, the moral of the story is, we can't complain about the torrent of sequels, reboots and adaptations while we're walking into cinemas to see the very thing we hope not to.