Why Tinsel Town keeps recycling content and why they (probably) won’t stop
In December of last year, Entertainment Weekly revealed a first look of Disney’s “Aladdin” for 2019, which featured the newly announced cast on the cover. This was met with mixed reviews, leaving some excited and others a little skeptical. There was also a noticeable feeling of fatigue surrounding this announcement of yet another movie remake. Every day it seems some film or franchise is being updated. So what’s the deal, Hollywood?
Studios have been recycling popular stories for as long as Hollywood has existed, but there has been an undeniable influx of remakes in the past few years. According to Den of Geek, there are currently 121 remakes in the process of being made, and Disney alone has three set to premiere in 2019. This is primarily due to nostalgia, which sells exceptionally well these days. Two of the highest-grossing sequels of all time are “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Jurassic World,” both of which are tied to legendary franchises, and many of the remakes and sequels coming to theaters this year originated from beloved titles like “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Grudge,” “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.”
This practice of re-creating films usually comes in three forms. You’ve got your remakes like “A Star is Born,” which features a familiar story, give or take a few changes, with a shiny new cast. Then there are sequels or spinoffs that either bring back original characters for a new adventure or bring on a new cast to expand on the original franchise, such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or the new “Men in Black” movie planned to release this summer. Then there are reboots, which hit the reset button on a film by keeping the general concept but changing the story, such as last year’s “Tomb Raider” or the various “Spider-Man” series.
Audiences with a love for these stories and characters allow studios in Hollywood to make a film without any risk because if you take an already successful title, add a few extra story elements and some prominent red-carpet faces, you’ve got the recipe for a blockbuster. A successful track record is key, especially if it has the potential to multiply. Hollywood is much less interested in the spectacle of a single movie and has lately been drawn to creating franchises that will lead to more films down the line. Looking at the numbers, it is hard to blame them for falling into this. In Business Insider’s list of “Top Grossing Movies Worldwide,” 13 of the top 20 are sequels and three of the remaining seven are remakes.
Perhaps the most important driving force behind this trend is intellectual property, which Michael Rothman of “ABC News” defines as any storyline, franchise or character that a studio or production company owns. So as long as these studios own the rights to these stories, they can do as they please, making it even easier to just re-create a story. The industry has had a streak of massive success just from updating stories and rebooting franchises, so this strategy has really paid off.
Sequels and reboots have become Hollywood’s get-out-of-jail-free card, but this is not inherently a bad thing. Many people love seeing their favorite characters return to the screen for another sequel, and sometimes it is nice to see a movie from your childhood reimagined through today’s film standards. While some may prefer these franchises to remain untouched, it is important to remember that Hollywood filmmaking is – above all else– a business. If something is projected to make a quick buck, or in this case a quick billion bucks, can you really be upset when they jump at the opportunity?