Two Numbers: Less Money for Original Scripts Means More Summer Movie Sequels; It's Not Your Imagination. Unimaginative, Unoriginal Movies Abound

By Schonfeld, Zach | Newsweek, September 25, 2015 | Go to article overview

Two Numbers: Less Money for Original Scripts Means More Summer Movie Sequels; It's Not Your Imagination. Unimaginative, Unoriginal Movies Abound


Schonfeld, Zach, Newsweek


Byline: Zach Schonfeld

Been to the movies this summer? Then you probably noticed that sequels, prequels and remakes dominate the box office, while original films are scarce.

Define an original movie as any film not directly based on another movie or a TV series (it doesn't have to be an "original screenplay"--book and comic book adaptations are OK, if not previously adapted for the screen), and the numbers are striking. Take the top 10 highest-grossing movies of the past summer. Only four of them are original by this definition, and only one of those cracks the top five.

The top 10 summer movies pulled in $2.8 billion, according to figures from Rentrak, but the four "original" movies of the bunch generated only $828 million of that, much of it from the Pixar insta-classic Inside Out. And that's being generous, counting Ant-Man, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise but not a sequel, as original. The two top-earning movies--Jurassic World ($647 million) and Avengers: Age of Ultron ($458 million)--are both sequels.

"There's a real herd mentality [in Hollywood]," says Stephen Follows, a producer and film data researcher. "When one thing works, they double down." The flood of superhero movies, for instance, can be traced to the surprise success of Iron Man in 2008. …

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