Reboots and Remakes — The Death of Creativity in Mainstream Hollywood

Just one glance at the roster of Disney’s films slated for release reveals a troubling trend. A wide majority of their upcoming releases are live-action reboots of animated classics. As I went through the list of Disney movies slated for release, I became increasingly shocked by how many of these titles I had already seen, in their original animated forms. From “The Jungle Book” to “Alice in Wonderland” to the sequels of those films, Disney now has 16 live-action remakes of animated classics currently in production or slated for release. It really saddens me, a life-long consumer and lover of Disney’s entertainment, to say this: Disney, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, heralded for centering all of its focus on the creativity of its entertainment products, is now departing away from what originally made it great: originality. As the title suggests, and this goes beyond just Disney, I think we are seeing a grave tragedy in modern day film, and that is the incessant refusal of studios to invest in new ideas and creativity. As a result, we are being given a barrage of remakes and reboots of films we’ve either heard were great films from years ago, or ones that we’ve already seen before.

Let’s try to understand this epidemic first. Why are studios so insistent on putting us through worlds that we’ve already seen? The most obvious explanation is money. Studio executives know that a remake of a classic, like Beauty and the Beast for example (starring Emma Watson, slated for a March 2017 release), is far less of a risk than a totally new concept, and a remake of a classic will undoubtedly bestow them with a ton of cash. In essence, studio executives are becoming increasingly uptight on what sort of productions they want to invest in. They want guaranteed returns, so it only makes sense to them that they invest in known franchises once more. It is more than safe to say that a re-visit to the Star Wars Universe would be a massive financial success. They know that the very name of the title will remind audiences of the glorious original they saw years ago, and audiences will buy tickets to see the same thing again just because that world they were immersed in years ago is still a world that captivates their imagination. But this creates a serious problem, and its more of an issue of art: My generation, the millennials, will end up having almost no original films that go on to define our era.

We know the ’70s to be the decade that showed the world what Hollywood was capable of, both on a technical scale (Star Wars, 1977) and storytelling (The Godfather, 1972) in large scale productions. The ’80s is a decade almost synonymous with the words “action film”, with movies like “Die Hard” and the Rambo franchise becoming the unforgettable pop-culture of this era. Right now, in the 2010s, the superhero genre is king, but it is growing cumbersome and repetitive fast, with studios trying all sorts of things to sell seats like pitting heroes against each other (Batman v Superman & Captain America: Civil War). Today, the issue isn’t sequels, its remakes of movies from these decades of established pop-culture genres. Films like Total Recall, Judge Dredd, Star Wars, Die Hard, Jumanji and numerous others either have seen or will see remakes or reboots in the 2010s. Why can’t we see Hollywood do in this era what its always done in its glorious past, invest in original works? Why are studios becoming more and more hesitant to take the risk they’ve always taken before and spend their money in original screenplays or building new franchises? These are questions that I hope will become irrelevant in the future, because if one thing is true about all art, it’s that a good original work of art is almost always better than a redo of another.