A Ready-Made Audience: Why Hollywood Loves Adaptations, Sequels And Reboots

23/09/2016 16:36
Warner Bros

I'm an admirer of film, everything about the medium I can admire on varying levels: be it the subtle forming of the plot that the script's author produces, incredible scenes of imagery that the director composes, those moments of being unable to look away from the actor's onscreen presence - coupled with emotional performances that transcend the screen giving you goosebumps as you shudder in your seat - not to forget the touching highs and lows of a majestic musical score.

So I don't find it too snobbish that I occasionally find myself poring over the lists of film trailers, looking over the plot and perusing the actors to be featured. But after a few films in you begin to realise a pattern emerging. The sheer number of sequels is... well, staggering, the growing number of adaptions from novels, comic-books and TV shows makes the head hurt. But the recent trend in remaking old films anew is especially worrying. Trying to correct past mistakes I can understand but some original works - though not flawless - should be left well-enough alone in the vault of great works and unmarred by association with a terrible remake. I find myself asking if original big budget films are becoming a thing of the past.

Why is it movie studios insist on releasing seemingly unending media franchises such as the Fast and Furious series, Star Wars, Planet Of The Apes, James Bond's outings, Alien, and many more? How is it I can find reboots of priceless cinema being trodden on with with nothing truly new to add but different actors? Why is there an influx of novel adaptions making it to the big screen?

The answer must surely be that worshipped thing - money.

It's an easy answer to scream out, but a look into the highest grossing films of the last few years will surely show a trending pattern which the movie studios have no doubt been aware of for some time. In 2014 the ten top grossing films were in some form or another either an adaption, a sequel or a reboot. The one exception was Interstellar, but to make the point, Interstellar was at number 10; seven of the ten were sequels and more than a few were adaptions from comics, novels and surprisingly a toy line.

I find myself wondering how these types of films can completely dominate the cinemas. In 2015 the ten highest grossing films comprised of eight sequels, four being adaptions from comics, novels and a TV series. More than a couple of the highest grossing films ever made I wouldn't even consider adequate, yet they still perform exceedingly at the box office, but still I question why.

Simple - because they ARE sequels, adaptions and reboots. They benefit from already having a loyal fanbase, a ready-made audience that wouldn't require as much marketing to and good odds on returns.

Comic book adaptions have followings of both the young and old, whether it be a sequel to a terrible first outing or a remake, the fans of the comic will want to see how the characters are portrayed differently. This can be said of book adaptions like Hunger Games or the Harry Potter series, where fans love to see their favourite stories brought to life.

It naturally follows to a studio that if an original film is successful, then a sequel could be considered a smaller risk due to the previous good reputation to discerning moviegoers. Reboots I find usually seek to capitalise solely on the success of the original film, be it a sole movie or a media franchise; these films can be well made, but for the most part I believe they don't try to create something new but to rehash the same old story. But whatever happens, the name of the film will stand out more than anything original the studio produces.

Whether this trend continues remains to be seen, but looking at this year's releases and current high grossing films - with five of those ten in the list being adaptions from comic book characters - I wouldn't bet against it. Would it really matter to the audience though.