Opinion: How new creative content has become rare on the silver screen

When “Ghostbusters” was rebooted in 2016, viewers and critics received it with a mixed reaction. For some, it represented a fresh redux of a timeless classic with a funny, all-female cast. And for others, it was an unnecessary remake of a classic film — with the addition of a female cast being an unnecessary injection of feminist politics. However, the film ultimately flopped at the box office, not only because of its politics, but also because of a singularly stunning issue: that a remake of a popular sequel simply wasn’t desired. A longtime formula for movies that made big box office bucks suddenly ran out of steam. This might be the beginning of a studio wide slump, as current movie series draw to a close and less new creative content is being produced — or being sent to the more cost effective medium of television.

Creating new media that achieves popularity is difficult. Studios gamble on whether certain ideas will fare successfully. If an idea for a movie doesn’t pan out well in the box office — or doesn’t receive critical acclaim — the studio could lose popularity as well as funding, making movie production more expensive. For example, the movie “Inception” was denied by several studios before being picked up by Legendary Studios and Syncopy Studios. The movie garnered numerous awards, most notably Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects. It also received a lavish box office reception to the tune of 825.5 million dollars. Another Movie that almost never existed due to hesitation from movie studios was “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” The film was denied by Disney for being too dark (after the studio proposed to make the film lighter and more humorous in atmosphere) and was also denied by Paramount Pictures before being picked up by New Line Cinema. Another movie series — perhaps the most famous and highest grossing series in existence — “Star Wars,” was initially denied by United Artists and Universal. George Lucas, the Director, ultimately found favor from 20th Century Fox, despite the studios lingering criticism of the film and doubt that it would fare successfully. To think that such revolutionary and well-made films were almost turned down due to its originality begs the question: Why would studios be so quick to reject original content? And what potential box office wonders have been turned down in the past and gone undiscovered?

Perhaps we should ask this instead: How can we incentivize studios to take on more new concepts? Old, currently running movie series such as “Star Wars” will eventually come to an end. Worse yet, attempting to extend movie series can make plots dry and uninteresting over time, and can turn blockbusters into flops. Studios should show more consideration for stand-alone movies with unique topics, or even creative retellings of old ones. Finally, give uncouth or unusual ideas, or original content, priority in screening for new material for films. If the film industry continues to rely on re-runs or extensions to worn out concepts or series, those studios will continue to lose money — and more importantly — cinematic creativity.

ILLUSTRATION BY ALEXX ELDER

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