Hollywood is starting to lack content that is truly, or mostly, original. As production companies create movies solely in the capitalistic pursuit of money, the content that makes it to the big screen with multi-million dollar budgets becomes increasingly narrow.
The success of movies like “Avengers: Endgame”, “The Lion King”, and “Toy Story 4” lie in a combination of large production budgets and audience familiarity.
Movies like “Endgame”, with over $300 million as its production budget, have no choice but to be successful with the amount that has been spent on them. That multimillion dollar investment goes into countless advertising campaigns to garner millions in income, a privilege most movies will never get. Imagine if all producers had access to that much money, the variety of most popular movies would change drastically allowing more variety in Hollywood. But that is not the case.
The top seven grossing movies in 2019 (“Endgame,” “The Lion King,” “Toy Story 4,” “Captain Marvel,” “Spiderman: Far From Home,” “Aladdin,” and “It: Chapter Two”) all fit into one of three categories: sequel, based off a comic, or a remake. This continuation of these old story lines makes Hollywood seem like it is losing its originality, and it is. Hollywood is losing its originality, but not due to a lack of writers. It is losing its originality because major production companies are investing their money into franchise markets they have already found fruitful, the safe bets.
An example of this is the investment of the world into the Avengers franchise. With the popularity of the Marvel franchise, investing $357,115,007 into the production budget was no big deal. “The Lion King” (1994) had a special place in the hearts of children and young adults alike, making it a sure bet for gaining a huge audience; the same is true for “Toy Story”. Critics complain about this lack of originality, with the fault going to producers, but Hollywood is not solely responsible for this repetition –it’s us, the viewers. Hollywood is a profit-based entity, therefore, as long as we retweet, rave about, and support solely the same kinds of movies, companies will continue to milk their cash cows thus drawing out washed up storylines way beyond where they should have been stopped, like the “Fast and Furious” movies.
Now, there is some originality happening. The eighth top grossing film “Us” was an original piece by Jordan Peele. A horror film that, as confusing as it was, had a plot of its own that hoped to not only scare you, but to make you think about its meaning on top of all the allegories he wrote into the script. Whether it was good or not, it was the first movie on the list this year to not be a sequel or remake. It also scored the highest opening weekend for an original horror film of $70 million. Props to that.
Another original, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” by Quentin Tarantino, broke away from the mold and created a movie about the Manson family cult that took the life of actress Sharon Tate and four others. But instead of them dying, like in real life, they were able to kill the cultists. A happier ending, I suppose. It ranked 15th.
If you look at Box Office Mojo which lists the top grossing films and their rankings, you will see that all of the new content has a smaller budget and a small gross. Well if all the money that studios have is going to these big budget films, how can original content and newer writers find their place in the cinematic market? It can’t. Without funding the original content that definitely exists out there, studios will continue to gravitate towards the easier choice of repetition.