How Remakes and Reboots will Destroy the Hollywood Studios
Show of hands: Who asked for Men in Black: International? Anyone?
Show of hands: Who wanted to see The Lone Ranger?
Solo: A Star Wars Story? Ghostbusters 3? Come on, people… really?
The dizzying number of remakes, reboots, and sequels are flying in and flying out of movie theaters at light speed, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the cineplexes are in deep doo.
Someone who has anything resembling a spine needs to wake the studio executives from their carbonite slumber and let them know that continuing with Business, As Usual, is going to turn multiplexes into the cinematic equivalent of elephant graveyards.
Gone are the days of the three major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) and movie theaters controlling the content being consumed in America and throughout the world. We’re seeing an alarming trend of kicking the cineplexes to the curb to keep our backsides at home and binge watch some of the most incredible, inventive shows ever imagined… shows that would have never seen the light of day back in the day.
I recently interviewed someone who works closely with the development arm of major studio and they told me that remakes, reboots, and sequels are the studio’s bread and butter and when they cross the line and try something original, the movie not only flops but flops badly.
Could it be that the studio execs are listening to the same creative heads that are addicted to worshipping at the throne of the Hollywood Regurgitron? (Hat tip to April Winchell.)
Producing a movie can be an extremely risky proposition from a financial point of view, and suggesting that someone greenlight a movie can be a career enhancer or a career destroyer. Who’s going to be cleaning out their desks the weekend after a film opens? Now that would be one hell of a reality show.
So, that’s why studios go with the tried and true, that is, until the tried and true turns blue in the face, gives up the ghost and dies.
Such was the case with the sequels no one asked for: Charlie’s Angels and Men in Black: International. The execs went to the well one too many times and a sea of red ink ensued.
(Note to Elizabeth Banks: You’re an incredible talent, but whoever gave you the advice to helm the Charlie’s Angels remake gave you really bad advice. You knew the history behind the franchise. The recent ABC reboot lasted less than a season. Being a good director requires you to do your homework. You signed on to a franchise with non-existent returns. That was your choice. It’s on you.)
So how can we stop this cinematic death spiral?
A phrase has been kicked around as of late: it’s called being a Filmtrepreneur, which is the theme of a gritty, no-holds-barred indie filmmaking manifesto by Producer/Director Alex Ferrari, called The Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Independent Film into a Moneymaking Business.
In the book, Ferrari challenges DIY filmmakers to be honest about the stories they want to tell and find out if there’s an actual demand/audience!
This is Marketing 101, something that studios seem to skip in favor of trying to ram content down moviegoers throats. Execs seem to believe that throwing a ton of cash at a property will reap extraordinary results. John Carter of Mars, anybody?
Studios have no idea what their audiences want anymore, and they’re willing to spend hundreds of millions of dollars hoping that they’re right. This mindset should scare every shareholder into bailing from the studio pronto.
With the mind-numbing amount of content vying for the world’s attention, wouldn’t it make sense for the studios to change with the times and create content that the world really wants instead of second-guessing them or taking the Castor Oil approach? Is it any wonder why AMC is starting to lean on alternative programming to help keep the lights on? Football in a movie theater? C’mon, studios, you can do better.
I also interviewed someone who works in the financial arm of another studio and they told me flat out that it was a dark day at the studios when one of the aforementioned sequels came out.
It is my hope and prayer that the studios will change with the times before we get to the point where someone says in the last movie theater to turn the lights out after they leave.
The studios aren’t the only game in town anymore, and if they’re not careful, the Filmtrepeneurs of the world will eat their lunch.
Written by: Jim Henson
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