As original as ever

John Hepp, Reporter

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It’s true: Hollywood has a bad case of sequel-itis. The “Fast and Furious” franchise currently has nine films, with a tenth on the way. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has bloated to 23 total movies, along with several spin-off TV shows. Even Disney, the mastermind that came up with classics such as The “Lion King” and “Aladdin” is releasing hollow live-action remakes of these films in an obvious attempt to cash in on nostalgia and score big numbers at the box office. These days, it feels like Hollywood is made up of big studios pumping out the same old methodical remakes and sequels in an effort to line their pockets.

In reality, however, there are original movies constantly released in Hollywood that are being overshadowed by the likes of Universal and Disney, who market their movies substantially more than some of these smaller studios. This creates the perception that all that’s out there is big budget franchises, when in reality, that’s not true. They simply have the backing of a larger studio and therefore are made more known to the public than smaller movies. It’s a vicious cycle: these blockbusters make hundreds of millions because audiences flock to them, so these studios have the money to shove the advertisement for the sequel down your throat. For every “Nightmare on Elm Street” remake, there are several original, creative movies that people just don’t hear about because they don’t have the studio backing of the larger movies.  

Moreover, even though many of these rehashed movies may seem formulaic on the surface, there is actually quite a bit of creativity underneath in some instances  Take the third Thor movie “Thor: Ragnarok,” for example.  The first two had gotten a mediocre reception, so in the third installment, Marvel strayed from the comics, infusing it with an 80’s-inspired color palette and a more lighthearted tone.  The movie received rave reviews and is praised as one of the best Marvel movies, exemplifying the originality that exists even within these big movie franchises.

There is a false perception that movies aren’t unique anymore, and this problem lies not within Hollywood, but the viewers themselves. There’s a reason that these sequels make so much money: we go to see them, constantly. We, as viewers, are drawn back to spend hundreds of dollars every summer to see what our favorite characters are up to. Many of these unique movies don’t have mass appeal—and that’s what makes them what they are. The art of filmmaking is amazing because if you don’t want to watch the comedic satire of the Nazi party in “Jojo Rabbit”, then you can watch “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”’s sprawling depiction of 1960’s Hollywood, or “Midsommar”’s terrifying depiction of cults and pagan rituals. These movies are just a fraction of what has released only this year. There is so much out there to explore in cinema, but the majority of audiences simply don’t care. They would rather watch another bland remake, which lends to these truly extraordinary movies going under the radar.

Yes, many of these blockbusters are easy to watch. They’re formulaic action movies, or comedies. The good guys beat the bad guys and everyone goes home happy in the end. But, they don’t challenge the viewer. They don’t make the viewer think. They aren’t ambiguous or open to interpretation. There are very few blockbuster movies where the audience comes out of the movie thinking, analyzing what they just watched. The average movie-goer doesn’t necessarily want to be challenged to think analytically about a movie and its themes; they just want a feel-good popcorn movie, which ultimately leads to many of these innovative, thought-provoking movies feeling unfavorable to many movie-goers. Incredible original movies are out there; they’re not hiding. Audiences just need to ditch the franchises, go out, and challenge themselves with amazing original movies.