It seems since the dawn of time that film buffs have ringing the apocalypse bell for Hollywood, pointing its reliance on sequels and overall lack of originality. Google “Hollywood lack of originality” and you will find article upon article that claims how terrible and exploitative Hollywood is to keep churning out the same junk and expect consumers to gobble it up.
The terrible truth? They consumers do usually gobble it up. The simple fact that Hollywood keeps making sequels, reboots, and adaptations is because they make a lot of money. Star Wars and Jurassic Park are the perfect evidence of this. Both are established franchises, both have upcoming films (The Force Awakens, and Jurassic World, respectively), and both will inevitably make a whole lot of money.
The rabbit hole goes a bit deeper than this, extending to franchises that come back after a decade or so of absence. They have a very special kind of success, City A.M. reported.
“Of the 50 highest grossing movie franchises of all time according to aggregator Box Office Mojo, 24 have seen films added to the canon following a break of 10 or more years. Plenty have had slightly shorter breaks between installments, but a gap of 10 years or above is the time frame most relevant to the return to Jurassic Park or a galaxy far, far away. Of those 24 franchises, 23 contained three or more films which tended to follow a familiar pattern: An adored blockbuster hit, a decline in audience interest and critical reception, before a bid for a return to past successes once the franchise had been left alone for a while.”
Both Jurassic World and Star Wars fit the bill for that description quite nicely. Both started off as beloved and slowly declined in acclaim as the sequels continued. What’s more, both have also released trailers for their upcoming installments.
In three days, Jurassic World’s trailer has garnered over 30 million views on YouTube alone, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens has brought in just under 9 million in less than a day’s time. The online buzz for these films is through the roof, and any news regarding these properties is practically guaranteed to go viral. And apart from this, unless the sequels are a complete train wreck in quality, they will undoubtedly make hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue at the box office.
What message will this send to Hollywood producers? “Audiences love when old franchises make a comeback!” And because filmmaking is more a business than an exercise in creativity, this will result in more Star Wars, more Jurassic World, and more old franchise returns.
Now make no mistake, this does not excuse a bad movie. Over time, bad movies are bound to beat an audience weary, and before long it’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones all over again. But it can take multiple bad sequels before an audience actually drops off a film franchise, putting millions in studios pocket in the meantime (likely much more money than if they had opted to make two more original films instead). It’s no wonder Hollywood loves franchises.
In short, if you want Hollywood to bank on its originality, make sure the only films you see aren’t based on anything or a part of any existing franchise. For the almighty dollar is all that counts. If you want proof. Look no more further than the recent Transformers sequel. The accolades have been nonexistent, but the sequels keep on coming due to the sheer spectacle that general audiences love to see.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that just the audience’s fault?
[Image Credit: Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer and Jurassic World trailer]