It is obvious that creativity is in critical condition in Hollywood. There are still creative entertainers around. Just look at Lady Gaga. However, movies seem to be mostly rehashes of old material, and there have been very few inspiring offerings this year in the movies. The question is: why?
The Hollywood Writers’ Strike
In 2007 and 2008, the Writers Guild of America went on strike. This means that virtually all writers for TV and Movies working in the U.S.A. were no longer writing. During this time, the Hollywood studios didn’t just stop writing movies. Instead, they tried to get by without them. In the process, the studios discovered something. If they re-used old scripts they saved the money that would have been spent on writers, saved spending time writing for a script, and people still forked over their money to see the movie. Two years after the strikes Hollywood still isn’t the same.
Some of us have been hit harder by the global economic downturn than others. Yes, the major movie studios still work with budgets that most of us can’t even imagine. They have not, however, emerged unscathed. Even Hollywood is looking for ways to save money. The economics are pretty simple. Let’s look at the new movie of A Nightmare on Elm Street as an example. The studio already knows that the 1984 version of the movie was a success. It is much cheaper for them to recreate this classic horror movie than to develop a new one. Yes, there are a lot of artists working in the cinema world. However, it is above all show business.
The Box Office
As much as we all say that we want original new movies, the reality of the tickets we buy doesn’t always reflect this. Look, for example, at the recent movie of Fame.Very few people saw the movie because they saw the previews and were excited. Most people saw the movie because of the 1980 original film and/or the 80’s TV series. The newest installment of Indiana JonesI saw because it was nostalgic. I remember seeing the earlier movies when I was a kid (they’re some of my dad’s favorites). It may not seem as exciting as a new story, but people-myself included–are suckers for nostalgia. We like sequels (and prequels) and re-imaginings. The studios like it because their film has a guaranteed audience.
Why has Hollywood stopped making a lot of creative new movies? Quite simply: it probably has more to do with money than anything else. Creative movies can be huge successes, but they can also bomb at the box office. Revisiting familiar topics often makes for cheaper movies and more of a guarantee when it comes to profits.
“Writers Say Strike to Start Monday” by Michael Cieply and Brook Barnes, The New York Times
“Strike’s toll on Calif.: $2.5 bil” by Elizabeth Guider, ET