The problem with Hollywood:

Total posts: [26]
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Last woman standing
I'm sure most of you will agree with me on this one. In fact most of you have probably known this for a long time. It's probably a trope.

We all know Hollywood is a business, and for them to succeed they have to make sound financial investments. The problem is anyone making a new movie would have to prove to the studios that there is evidence this movie will succeed before the execs are willing to land a whole bunch of money on it.

This means proving that it will have an audience who is willing to go and watch it.

Which means a heavy reliance on remakes of other movies and adaptations of books, comics, plays and other forms of media.

And when there are no more of those, or those things are successful they will (a) make sequels (b) make remakes (c) produce things similar to what was successful (fractured fairy-tales, supernatural love-triangles and so on) or (d) reboot the franchise.

And thus they is hardly ANYTHING in the mainstream movie scene that is original or different.

Anyone agree? Or more importantly any ideas on how we could get something different in our films?
For whatever reason, they're usually unwilling to take risks on anything new. Any property you see getting greenlit these days is almost certainly the result of some execs looking at a vaguely similar hit film and thinking "This could be our (insert name!)"

This doesn't just go for genre films or groundbreaking works either. As much as I dislike his films, I was appalled when I read about the crap Tyler Perry had to deal with while trying to get studios to make his movies. He's made a killing with his Madea movies and what not, but the execs all told him to go to hell at first because "Nobody wants to see movies with black leads."
Yes. They're not willing to make gambles. The exceptions come when there's a director with enough prestige and/or money to do a big project (Nolan's Inception, Cameron's Avatar, Lucas' Red Tails; can also be someone other than the director - Jackson produced District 9). The other way original ideas can get out there is if you're willing and able to make something good without a lot of money behind it (e.g., Chronicle), though even then it can get folded into other trends - it's getting a sequel because Hollywood now know comic book movies sell.

Comic book movies are actually an excellent example. Until the first X-Men film and the first Spider-Man film, comic book movies didn't have any reputation as moneymakers. After those - and the combination of the success of those two franchises with Nolan Batman movies' success - comic book movies got a reputation as box office gold, and this year provided 3 of the top 5 highest-grossing movies. So sometimes a new idea can get through - and then everyone copies it and to some extent its use becomes flat and overdone (the Marvel films aside from Avengers have mostly been mediocre).

So it's hard to get the money to try anything new; if you try something new and fail, your idea goes nowhere; and if you try something new and succeed, it gets old fast because of everyone trying to piggyback on you for profits. End result - not a whole lot of art left in Hollywood.
I contest the idea that there is a "problem" with Hollywood, or rather, that this particular "problem" is new in any way shape or form. Hollywood has *always* been risk averse. The only thing that changes over time is which kinds of productions Hollywood views as "low risk."

The rest has to do with budget, which ultimately has nothing to do with how creative Hollywood might be, and everything to do with an unwillingness to accept that they have competition.
Home of CBR Rumbles-in-Exile:
The ratio of good/bad and creative/formulaic movies have always been about the same. It's just that the business has continued to grow and our ability to access and watch the more experimental independent films has increased.

I would argue that even the independent films have the same ratios, sometimes "experimental" is a formula all on its own.
The thing with experiments is that most of them fail.
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
7 Polarity6th Sep 2012 03:37:31 PM from Caracas, Venezuela , Relationship Status: I wanna know about these strangers like me
Not to mention, Hollywood has always been the main juggernaut behind most movies, so I don't see the problem with a thing that provides most of the movies we watch.

Sure, they are risk averse, and so they might only pay attention to a movie with say, a good actor like Bruce Willis. But at the same time, that line of thinking got us Die Hard. So I honestly don't share your views on the problem with hollywood. Unless you prefered that all movies were Bollywood musicals.
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8 wuggles6th Sep 2012 06:15:18 PM from Miami, FL , Relationship Status: With my statistically significant other
I don't necessarily think that Hollywood's getting more formulaic, I mean some of the movies that are considered the greatest of all time are book adaptations (Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Jaws, The Godfather, etc.). So to say that adaptations are the problem isn't necessarily true. I think it's just that now we have more movies coming out. Also, indie doesn't necessarily equal great. I think the biggest problem with Hollywood now is the lack of diversity. I think Hollywood is more likely to take a risk with a white cast than a minority cast.
Studios used to have an "indie" production house or the like. Think miramax championing Kevin Smith's earlier works. Then indie movies started becoming formula and that sorta turned to shit. I'm surprised they haven't decided to try again though. You make a movie for 100 million dollars and I'll make 100 movies for a million and we'll see who gets more hits.

Jaws was a book? Seriously? Has anyone here read it? Was it any good?
11 maxwellelvis6th Sep 2012 07:27:45 PM from undisclosed location , Relationship Status: In my bunk
Mad Scientist Wannabe
[up]Apparently the book was much more about sex and the Mafia than it was about sharks.
Of course, don't you know anything about ALCHEMY?!- Twin clones of Ivan the Great
12 Prowler6th Sep 2012 09:10:55 PM , Relationship Status: On the prowl
Caw! Caw!
[up][up] Jaws is quite a decent book, but a far better movie.

edited 6th Sep '12 9:11:04 PM by Prowler

Dungeon Man
Most of Kubrick's films were adaptations. Most of them were altered heavily though, like Dr. Strangelove which wasn't supposed to be a comedy well it delivered well, loved the movie more than the book grin

edited 7th Sep '12 6:02:54 AM by BrickRoad

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14 Cider7th Sep 2012 03:24:41 PM from Not New York , Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
The Final ECW Champion
The execs told Tyler Perry no one wanted to see his leads? Had they never heard of Men In Black? Independence Day, the pursuit of happyness, Oprah? Don't they know 1/5th of the population is what most people in the US would consider "black".

I'd flat out say I don't believe it if I did not hear this kind of thing so much. We will turn half the black characters, most of whom will have five minutes of screen time in a hour thirty movie, white just so people won't think Spawn is a "black movie". The for an hour and hour twenty there will be a blue clown lizard fighting a demon/zombie on screen but those black people will somehow scare white people? Americans, aren't you offended? Hollywood thinks you're a bunch of pussies or something it seems.

edited 7th Sep '12 10:20:19 PM by Cider

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15 Deboss7th Sep 2012 05:31:23 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
I'm mostly satisfied with what Hollywood is producing. I wouldn't be upset if they produced more of what I liked and stopped adding in little bits that annoy me, like token romances, but overall, they provide a decent bit of entertainment. Taking a huge gamble might get you rich quick, but it won't keep you rich. So they've stuck with the basic idea of adapting books and what not.
[up][up] Will Smith seems to be the movie exception to that rule, rather than evidence against it.
[up][up][up] Being fair, Tyler Perry is partly responsible for that. I have zero interest in seeing anything done by him, not because it stars black actors, but because everything I've ever heard of him doing has been narrow race-specific comedy.
Home of CBR Rumbles-in-Exile:
Maybe because that's the only thing with black actors Hollywood is willing to make?
19 Cider7th Sep 2012 10:51:32 PM from Not New York , Relationship Status: They can't hide forever. We've got satellites.
The Final ECW Champion
Hotel Rwanda, Great Debaters, Deep Blue Sea and Fat Albert then. Let's not bash Will Smith.

Point is comicwriter didn't say anything about content, he talked of rejection over actor choices. Which I'd find hard to believe if I didn't know George Lucas, the guy so rich and influential he pioneered visuals just to make his movies look the way he wanted, had trouble getting a Tuskegee Airman picture out. I mean, they did the lost Battalion two or three times and love making Nazi movies so it can't be because of the period or setting.

Rwandans themselves say the movie gave Historical Hero Upgrades to a few white people who ran and didn't turn back in real life(that's not to bash the people involved because that's what they should have done. Just the director or whoever)

Doesn't seem to be about making white people look good either, just putting them in view. A film about the diamond trade and its links to massacres, slave labor and child soldiers decides to use a white arms dealer making things worse as one of the main protagonists? I don't think Pablo Escobar could empathize with the guy but in what was mostly black on black conflict they focused on this guy for some reason right?
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20 Parable7th Sep 2012 11:59:43 PM from California , Relationship Status: Star-crossed
State of Mind
Out of curiosity, how many of the old classics are original films and how many are adaptions or books, plays, or based on real events?
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21 DeviantBraeburn8th Sep 2012 12:05:01 AM from Dysfunctional California
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22 Deboss8th Sep 2012 02:32:19 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
@ Parable, do you have a list of "old classics" we can do some research on? We need a sample size. Also, do you count stuff like the Wizard Of Oz where it's both an adaption and a remake several times over?
23 Parable8th Sep 2012 05:14:37 PM from California , Relationship Status: Star-crossed
State of Mind
I hadn't really thought of that. But upon a quick Google search, how about using the AFI's Top 100 Films as a guide. Most of them are pretty old. Scroll down past the list and there is like 50 other movies that are notable mentions or something.

edited 8th Sep '12 5:15:39 PM by Parable

And it's a long way forward, so trust in me. I'll give them shelter, like you've done for me
24 Deboss9th Sep 2012 12:08:45 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Give me a second for research (by which, I mean I'm going to read the opening on The Other Wiki, or remembering tidbits from other places, so if someone else knows better, say so):

Citizen Kane: Based on a True Story although it was sort of a criticism for a specific person, does that count?

Casablanca: According to the wikipedia page: it was an adapted play (that wasn't used, so I don't think it counts for adaption) and was apparently fairly "stock" for the time period.

The Godfather: Book.

Gone with the Wind: Book.

Lawrence of Arabia: Based on a True Story.

Wizard of Oz: Book. And a dozenth remake on the famous one where they switch to technicolor.

The Graduate: Book.

On the Waterfront: Series of articles, might be Based on a True Story.

Schindler's List: Book and presumably Based on a True Story.

Singin' in the Rain: Hm, tough to call. It wasn't explicitly based on anything, but it's a look at stuff that Hollywood deals with on a regular basis. I'd feel okay calling this "original work" if you ignore that it's self referential of show business.

It's a Wonderful Life: Short story.

Sunset Boulevard: Similar to Singin' in the Rain, it's based on "life in Hollywood" rather than a pre-existing story.

The Bridge on the River Kwai: Book, which wasn't Based on a True Story which is surprising for most war films.

Some Like It Hot: Remake of a french film.

Star Wars 4: Original, but a throwback to previous fiction, so it was basically distilling a genre. Do we count that as original?

All About Eve: Short story.

The African Queen: Book.

Psycho: Book.

The General: Based on a True Story through a memoir.

China Town: Based on a True Story.

One Flew Over The Cookoos Nest: Book.

The Grapes of Wrath: Book.

Two Thousand One A Space Odessey: Short story, but the screen play was written by the same author, so I'm inclined to call it original.

The Maltese Falcon: Book.

Raging Bull: Based on a True Story through a memoir.

ET: No direct basis, but "The concept for E.T. was based on an imaginary friend Spielberg created after his parents' divorce in 1960. In 1980, Spielberg met Mathison and developed a new story from the stalled science fiction/horror film project Night Skies." which still makes it count I guess.

Dr. Strangelove: Book, but only barely. We count that as original if you like.

Bonnie and Clyde: Based on a True Story.

Apocalypse Now: Book, but loosely apparently.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Based on an unpublished story. Not sure how to count that.

The Treasure Of Sierra Madre: Book.

Annie Hall: Original.

The Godfarther II: Book.

High Noon: Nothing AFAICT, however I'm tempted to call "genre distillation" similar to Star Wars, but without being more familiar with the time line of Western genre development.

To Kill a Mockingbird: Book.

It Happened One Night: Short story.

Midnight Cowboy: Book.

The Best Years of Our Lives: Based on the summary, I'd call Based on a True Story. The funder decided to write the story based on a news article, and then commissioned a story, which was published in writing first.

Double Endinmty: Book.

Doctor Zhivago: Book, but loosely.

North By Northwest: Creator distillation according to the description. Take that as you will.

West Side Story: Play.

Rear Window: Short story.

King Kong: Adapted from some kind of story.

Birth of a Nation: Book.

A Street Car Named Desire: Play.

A Clockwork Orange: Book.

Taxi Driver: Original.

Jaws: Book.

Snow White: Fable.

Intolerance: Original for the most part. Involves Jesus.

Butch Cassidy: Loosely Based On A True Story.

Lord of the Rings: Book.

The Philadelphia Story: Play.

From Here to Eternity: Book.

Amadeus: Play.

All Quite On The Western Front: Book.

The Sound of Music: Musical.

MASH: Book.

The Third Man: Original, but written by a writer as a book at the same time.

Fantasia: Mostly original, however part was from a previous character.

Rebel Without a Cause: Original.

Nashville: Original, but another entry in "life in the entertainment biz" section.

Raiders Of The Lost Arc: As with Star Wars, Lucas wanted a genre distillation. A George Lucas Throwback if you will.

Vertigo: Book.

Sullivan's Travels: Semi-original. It's a mix of Gulliver's Travels and "life in the entertainment biz".

Tootsie: "Story"

Stage Coach: Short story.

Cabaret: Loosely adapted from a musical, which was loosely adapted from a play and a book.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Original.

Silence of the Lambs: Book.

Network: Original, but another entry in "Life in the E Biz" set, I'm beginning to notice a pattern of these.

The Manchurian Candidate: Book.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Play.

An American in Paris: Sort of original. It's a musical based on what amounts to a soundtrack.

Shane: Book.

The French Connection: Book, but ultimately Based on a True Story.

Forrest Gump: Book.

Saving Private Ryan: Loosely Based on a True Story and a statue.

Ben-Hur: Book.

The Shawshank Redemption: Book. By Stephen King of all people, doesn't he write horror?

Wuthering Heights: Book.

The Gold Rush: Original. Chaplin.

Dances with Wolves: Book.

In the Heat of the Night: Book.

City Lights: Original. Chaplin.

American Graffiti: Original, but based on his own life.

All the President's Men: Book, Based on a True Story.

Rocky: Original.

The Deer Hunter: Sort of original, cannibalized another script.

The Wild Bunch: Original.

Modern Times: Original. Chaplin.

Spartacus: Book.

Giant: Book.

Sunrise A Song Of Two Humans: Short story.

Platoon: Original, but based on creators experiences.

Titanic: Sort of Based on a True Story, sort of original. I'll let you guess which parts are which.

Fargo: Original.

Duck Soup: Original. Marx.

A Night at the Opera: Original. Marx.

Mutiny on the Bounty: Book.

Frankenstien: Book. Duh.

12 Angry Men: Teleplay.

Easy Rider: Original, but based on counter culture.

Patton: Based on a true story through biography.

The Sixth Sense: Original. Shymalon beats so many of these other directors if you consider "it has to be original" to be make/break requirement for quality.

The Jazz Singer: Original, show biz.

Swingtime: Original but musical based on pre-existing music.

My Fair Lady: Musical play.

Sophie's Choice: Book.

A Place in the Sun: Book.

The Apartment: Original.

Goodfellas: Nonfiction book.

Pulp Fiction: Original.

The Last Picture Show: Book autobiographical.

The Searchers: Book.

Do the Right Thing: Original.

Bringing Up Baby: Book.

Blade Runner: Loosely based on a book.

Unforgiven: Original, but a genre deconstruction.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: Original.

Toy Story: Mostly original from the look of it. Inspired by a previous "talking toy" story.

Yankee Doodle Dandy: Autobiographical apparently.

So, the general impression I get is that books are the most common source, a decent portion of which are based on real events. A number of works are original, the most common "inspirations" for such works being either genre distillations/deconstructions, "life in show biz", war stories, and some prolific comedians in the thirties (5% of these films IIRC). There's also the issue of whether or not you count musicals built around pre-existing songs.
Two Thousand One A Space Odyssey: Short story, but the screen play was written by the same author, so I'm inclined to call it original.
Yeah, Arthur C. Clark and Stanly Kubrick collaborated on the plot, and the novella and the screenplay were written more or less simultaneously.

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