Hollywood's creativity problem and a (ranty) stroll through endless remakes...


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Art Waring

halozix.com
Hollywood has a creativity problem, and one that is, I don't think it is too crazy to think, largely based on the financial bottom line
The Writers Strike of 2007-2008 was a significant event in hollywood. Writers went on a unified strike, putting the entire industry on hold. If you look at 2008-2009, you will see different writing credits than before (although the strike did eventually end in favor of the writers). Daniel Craig had to write the script for the 2008 bond film because their writer went on strike, and he discussed it in interviews saying it was a very difficult process and the film may have suffered as a result. After that its hard to find films taking many risks in the industry.

The 90's was the end of risk-taking in the film industry. You saw films like Dark City, Seven, Pi, Cube, Natural Born Killers, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys, Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Gattaca, Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and so on. It was a completely different landscape in terms of creativity compared to today.

Blade Runner was seen as a disaster upon its release, and had frequent problems during production, its almost a miracle it was made at all. And yet, it changed the entire dominant aesthetic and gave birth to the visual influences now prevalent in the cyberpunk genre. Films like that don't exist today because companies won't gamble on new ideas. Instead of getting Neuromancer or Snow Crash we get Blade Runner 2049 dash 2.0.

-> Unfortunately it boils down to risk and returns on investment. They are in the business of making money as the first priority, so they will take the safe bet every time (remakes ect) rather than take a risk on an unknown quantity.

I mean, there can't be any other good big epic fantasy worlds to depict in a series
I doubt we will ever get to see it, but Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles would be right up at the top of that list.
 

Hollywood has been a sequel and remake factory for a solid century now, and from its earliest days it wanted to throw money at movies based on already established books and plays. Aside from risk aversion there is a certain jealousy of all those other industries that get to just design a product and sell minor iterations of it year-in-year-out for decades on end, while movie studios need to make a series of high stakes bets every year.

Now I would say that production and marketing budgets have gone more towards bankable franchises in recent years, and that Hollywood has embraced the long belated revival-sequel like never before in recent years, but ultimately the money has historically almost always gone to things that were bankable franchises, involved bankable stars, or rode some bankable trend. What we have is a moment when there aren't a lot of stars whom people will go out to the movies to see, and the most prominent bankable trend is itself nostalgic retreads.
 

Mercurius

Legend
The Writers Strike of 2007-2008 was a significant event in hollywood. Writers went on a unified strike, putting the entire industry on hold. If you look at 2008-2009, you will see different writing credits than before (although the strike did eventually end in favor of the writers). Daniel Craig had to write the script for the 2008 bond film because their writer went on strike, and he discussed it in interviews saying it was a very difficult process and the film may have suffered as a result. After that its hard to find films taking many risks in the industry.

The 90's was the end of risk-taking in the film industry. You saw films like Dark City, Seven, Pi, Cube, Natural Born Killers, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys, Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Gattaca, Delicatessen, The City of Lost Children, and so on. It was a completely different landscape in terms of creativity compared to today.

Blade Runner was seen as a disaster upon its release, and had frequent problems during production, its almost a miracle it was made at all. And yet, it changed the entire dominant aesthetic and gave birth to the visual influences now prevalent in the cyberpunk genre. Films like that don't exist today because companies won't gamble on new ideas. Instead of getting Neuromancer or Snow Crash we get Blade Runner 2049 dash 2.0.

-> Unfortunately it boils down to risk and returns on investment. They are in the business of making money as the first priority, so they will take the safe bet every time (remakes ect) rather than take a risk on an unknown quantity.
Yes, well said. I didn't know that about Craig...I guess you're talking about Quantum of Solace? (I still have no idea what that title means...lol).

Some really great films in the 90s. I do think some good stuff has some after, but it is few and far between. But the ones I mentioned in my OP - Arrival, Ex Machina, etc - all fit in with your list.
I doubt we will ever get to see it, but Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles would be right up at the top of that list.

It is kind of weird that we haven't...it is such an obvious choice (though not my personal favorite Zelazny novel(s)...that would probably be Lord of Light).
 


Mercurius

Legend
Hollywood has been a sequel and remake factory for a solid century now, and from its earliest days it wanted to throw money at movies based on already established books and plays. Aside from risk aversion there is a certain jealousy of all those other industries that get to just design a product and sell minor iterations of it year-in-year-out for decades on end, while movie studios need to make a series of high stakes bets every year.

Now I would say that production and marketing budgets have gone more towards bankable franchises in recent years, and that Hollywood has embraced the long belated revival-sequel like never before in recent years, but ultimately the money has historically almost always gone to things that were bankable franchises, involved bankable stars, or rode some bankable trend. What we have is a moment when there aren't a lot of stars whom people will go out to the movies to see, and the most prominent bankable trend is itself nostalgic retreads.
Yeah, I hear you. Hindsight is also an element, too, as we tend to remember the good stuff, not as much the bad. For every classic rock album we remember from the 60s-70s, there are a dozen bad ones that no one but a small few listen to.

But I still think there are fewer "future classics" being made. And certainly, we can look at the Oscar nominations and see a marked decline in the last 10-20 years.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
For me, the future classics are happening on the small screen. I'm also entirely ok with that. YMMV.
 

Art Waring

halozix.com
It is kind of weird that we haven't...it is such an obvious choice (though not my personal favorite Zelazny novel(s)...that would probably be Lord of Light).
My favorite is actually Jack of Shadows, short and sharp. But most people I know prefer Lord of Light.

Some really great films in the 90s. I do think some good stuff has some after, but it is few and far between. But the ones I mentioned in my OP - Arrival, Ex Machina, etc - all fit in with your list.
For sure. Some gems do come out every now and then. Minority Report could be another one to add to the list, but I think that's a 2002 film. Ironically, another PKD adaptation (bless PKD, without PKD= no Bladerunner).
 


Mercurius

Legend
My favorite is actually Jack of Shadows, short and sharp. But most people I know prefer Lord of Light.
I've had Jack of Shadows on my to-read list for years.
For sure. Some gems do come out every now and then. Minority Report could be another one to add to the list, but I think that's a 2002 film. Ironically, another PKD adaptation (bless PKD, without PKD= no Bladerunner).
Yep. Not sure that Valis or Ubik would make a great film, though ;).

On a side note, if I'm honest, I find Bladerunner a bit overrated...I see it most successful as a mood piece, and thus very impactful aesthetically. But from a purely movie-watching point of view, I actually liked the sequel more, even if it goes against the grain of what I said in the OP.
 

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