Posts Tagged ‘Hollywood’

Reviewing Silence resulted in bumping this segment back a few days, but today we’re dealing with that constantly nagging voice that whines that there’s nothing original left in Hollywood.

Its not the movie studios’ fault if folks choose to ignore good films they are not familiar with. Known commodities will nearly always win box office battles, because its easier to get people in the seats, but profit and box office receipts don’t equate to quality, and in this age there’s honestly no excuse for not seeing the amazing new films and ideas out there.

You’ll note that a star * = still in theaters, and +/- signs indicate how much more or less money the film made to its counterpart on this list last year.

Where Did They Come From?

There are four categories: Originals, Adaptations, Sequels (which include prequels and spin-offs), and Remakes.

To be fair, I’m only listing films that made it to wide release. If I counted limited release films as well, the original films would trounce the other categories in a landslide.



Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, plays, television shows, etc. Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage.

Films based on events, but not creative works, are still original films. In 2015 there were 61 original films released. This past year (2016), there were 68.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2016 were:

  1. Zootopia – $1.02B+$144M {Inside Out}
  2. The Secret Life of Pets $875.5M/ +$401.7M {San Andreas}
  3. Moana$555.2M/ +$311.4M {The Good Dinosaur}
  4. Sing – $488.2M/ +$250.5M {Spy}
  5. Passengers $292.9M/ +83.9M {Tomorrowland}




Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Legend of Tarzan), comic books (Dr. Strange), plays (Fences), TV shows, etc.

Reboots are classified as adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material.

The emergence of shared universes is making classifying some films tricky. My guide is that if the focus of the film is on a character or characters that have not headlined a film before (Suicide Squad and Dr. Strange for example), then it is an adaptation.

In 2015 there were 38 adaptations, this year that number is 44.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2016 were:

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them$810.6M/ +$214.3M {The Martian}
  2. Deadpool$783.1M/ +$147.2M {Mockingjay, Part 2}
  3. Suicide Squad$745.6M/ +$202.9M {Cinderella}
  4. Doctor Strange$670.2M/ +$150.9 {Ant-Man}
  5. Warcraft$433.7M/ +19.3M {Kingsmen: The Secret Service}




In this category are films that are sequels or prequels to other films. There were 30 sequels in 2016, that’s an increase of seven from the previous year.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels in 2016 were:

  1. Captain America: Civil War$1.15B/ -$547M {Jurassic World}
  2. Rogue One$1.04B/ -$499.9M {Furious 7}
  3. Finding Dory$1.03B/ -$470.1M {Star Wars: The Force Awakens}
  4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice$873.3M/ -$526.7M {Avengers: Age of Ultron}
  5. X-Men: Apocalypse$543.9M/ -$656.1M {Minions}




This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 4 remakes in 2016, up one in number from the year before. Here are their international totals.

  1. The Jungle Book$966.6M/ +$871.1M {Poltergeist}
  2. Ghostbusters$229.1M/ +$148.9M {Point Break}
  3. The Magnificent Seven$162.4M/ +$152.4 {The Loft}
  4. Pete’s Dragon – $143.7M


In Conclusion



Though the sequels brought in the most money in 2016, it was less than the previous year, with most of that shortfall moving to original films (especially the animated variety) and The Jungle Book.

Once again, the myth of Hollywood losing its creativity is debunked.


The Blockbuster Report

Ah, St. Valentine’s Day. Regardless of your plans this weekend, either with a significant other or on your lonesome, take a deep breath and promise yourself that you won’t go see a film just because it belongs in the romance genre. There are plenty of love films around this weekend, but they aren’t all worth your time. But before we talk about those, let’s briefly talk RoboCop.

The RoboCop remake has hit theaters, and it is my Film to Catch of the weekend. This may go down as my guilty pleasure of the year, but you know what? Its easily the best new film of the weekend, even if it is getting mixed reviews. And its still a better story than Twilight.

Joel Kinnaman as RoboCop.

Also in wide release, we have three romance films. Winter’s Tale falls quite a bit short of its source material, the classic novel of the same name. About Last Night falls into tired cliches about what true love is, while at the same time really departing from its source material (which actually did the same thing). Endless Love falls into the same trap. Neither are worth your time. When will they ever learn?

Limited release films of note include The Returned, which features an interesting twist on living in a zombie world, and Jimmy P, starring Benicio Del Toro and Mathieu Amalric. The latter film features a compelling true story about a Native American war veteran suffering from PTSD symptoms and his investigation into their true source.

Where Do They Come From?

There are four wide release films this weekend.

  • About Last Night: Adaptation from a play by David Mamet.
  • Endless Love: Adaptation, from the novel of the same name by Scott Spencer.
  • RoboCop: Remake
  • Winter’s Tale: Adaptation, from the novel of the same name by Mark Helprin.

Original: 5

Adaptation: 8

Sequel/Prequel: 1

Remake: 1

Re-release: 0


These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely.

International films not included until end of year if Oscar potential exists. This weekend’s releases not included.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend or like all films on this list, but these are my favorites to win awards.

1) The Lego Movie (NEW)

2) Gimme Shelter (-1)

3) A Field In England (NEW)

4) At Middleton (-1)

5) Life of a King (-3)

6) Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (-2)

7) The Monuments Men (NEW)

8) Ride Along (-3)

9) The Nut Job (-3)

10) Summer in February (-2)

Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and my predictions did quite well. I correctly predicted 87 out of 122 Oscar nominees. In head-to-head combat, I predicted more nominations correctly than representatives of Rotten Tomatoes, the Associated Press,, IMDB (by 12 picks!), the Huffington Post, Access Hollywood, and Entertainment Weekly. I also finished ahead of Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Brad Brevet of Rope of Silicon, and Claudia Puig of USA Today (again 12 picks here!). There were some big surprises, as there always are, but here’s a list of the nominees. My picks are in bold where correct, and crossed out when wrong, replaced by the correct nomination.

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Best Picture 

  1. 12 Years a Slave*
  2. Gravity*
  3. Her*
  4. American Hustle*
  5. Captain Phillips*
  6. Nebraska*
  7. The Wolf of Wall Street
  8. Dallas Buyers Club
  9. Philomena

Note: With only 9 Nominees this year, my 10th pick, Inside Llewyn Davis, was not nominated.

List of my Best Picture favorites can be found here, with nomination listing.

Best Actor

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Matthew McConaughey* (Dallas Buyers Club)
  3. Bruce Dern* (Nebraska)
  4. Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
  5. Robert Redford (All is Lost)  Christian Bale (American Hustle)

Best Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett* (Blue Jasmine)
  2. Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
  3. Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
  4. Judi Dench (Philomena)
  5. Amy Adams (American Hustle)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Jared Leto* (Dallas Buyers Club)
  2. Michael Fassbender* (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  4. Daniel Bruhl (Rush) Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
  5. James Gandolfini (Enough Said) Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Lupita Nyongo* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Jennifer Lawrence* (American Hustle)
  3. June Squibb (Nebraska)
  4. Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
  5. Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)

Side note: Gosh, I’m glad Oprah didn’t get nominated, I just wish I hadn’t switched her in for Sally Hawkins at the last minute.

Best Director

  1. Steve McQueen* (12 Years a Slave)
  2. Alfonso Cuaron* (Gravity)
  3. David O. Russell (American Hustle)
  4. Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) Alexander Payne (Nebraska)
  5. Martin Scorcese (The Wolf of Wall Street)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. American Hustle*
  2. Her*
  3. Blue Jasmine*
  4. Inside Llewyn Davis Dallas Buyers Club
  5. Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. 12 Years a Slave*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Before Midnight
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street
  5. Philomena

Best Animated Feature Film

  1. Frozen*
  2. The Wind Rises*
  3. Monsters University Despicable Me 2
  4. The Croods
  5. Ernest and Celestine

Best Documentary Film

  1. Stories We Tell* Dirty Wars
  2. The Act of Killing*
  3. Blackfish Cutie and the Boxer
  4. 20 Feet From Stardom
  5. The Square

Best Foreign Film

  1. The Great Beauty*
  2. The Hunt
  3. The Broken Circle Breakdown
  4. Omar
  5. Two Lives The Missing Picture

Best Cinematography

  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave The Grandmaster
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Prisoners
  5. Captain Phillips Nebraska

Best Costume Design

  1. The Great Gatsby*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. American Hustle
  4. Oz, the Great and Powerful The Invisible Woman
  5. Saving Mr. Banks The Grandmaster

Best Make-up and Hair

  1. American Hustle* Bad Grandpa
  2. The Lone Ranger
  3. Dallas Buyers Club

Best Production Design

  1. The Great Gatsby*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. Gravity
  4. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug Her
  5. American Hustle

Best Editing

  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave*
  3. American Hustle*
  4. Captain Phillips
  5. The Wolf of Wall Street Dallas Buyers Club

Best Visual Effects

  1. Gravity*
  2. Pacific Rim* The Lone Ranger
  3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  4. Iron Man 3
  5. Star Trek: Into Darkness

Best Original Score

  1. Gravity*
  2. 12 Years a Slave* Her
  3. Saving Mr. Banks
  4. The Book Thief
  5. All is Lost Philomena

Best Original Song

  1. “Let it Go” (Frozen)*
  2. “Young and Beautiful” (The Great Gatsby)* “The Moon Song” (Her)
  3. “Ordinary Love” (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
  4. “Atlas” (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) “Happy” (Despicable Me 2)
  5. “I See Fire” (The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug) “Alone, Yet Not Alone” (Alone, Yet Not Alone)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Gravity*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Rush The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  4. Lone Survivor
  5. All is Lost

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Gravity*
  2. Captain Phillips*
  3. Lone Survivor
  4. All is Lost The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
  5. Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Animated Short

  1. Get a Horse*
  2. Mr. Hublot
  3. Room on the Broom
  4. The Missing Scarf Feral
  5. Subconscious Password Possessions

Best Live Action Short

  1. The Voorman Problem
  2. Tiger Boy Aquel No Era Yo
  3. Dva Helium 
  4. Kush Avant Que De Tout Perdre
  5. Throat Song Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?

Best Documentary Short

  1. The Lady in #6: Music Saved My Life*
  2. Facing Fear
  3. Slomo Karama Has No Walls
  4. Cavedigger
  5. Jujitsu-ing Reality Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

There’s a rumor going around that’s been circulating for a number of years. That rumor would have you believe that Hollywood is losing its creative prowess, that somehow, just because sequels and reboots tend to make more money at the box office (which would seem obvious, right? A film with a previously established target audience that already likes the subject material would obviously make more money), that there are no good new ideas in Hollywood. Of course, we already debunked that claim last year, as you can see here. However, to keep up the good work, here is a look at the source material for all wide release films of 2013 (limited release films are not included, as their presence would skew the numbers even more towards original works than they already are.

Where Did They Come From?




Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, comic books, plays, or television shows. Originals include films such as Gravity and The Croods that are completely new stories, and films such as Saving Mr. Banks and 47 Ronin, which are original stories based on “real life” events (based being the key word here). Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage. 

As you can see, Original Films were the most common film in 2013, and they have been for some years.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

(* = still in theaters)

  1. Gravity* – $653M  
  2. The Croods – $587M
  3. Pacific Rim – $408M
  4. Now You See Me – $352M
  5. The Conjuring – $317M



Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Great Gatsby), short stories (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), plays (August: Osange County), TV shows etc. Reboots such as Man of Steel are classified as Adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material. Also films like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are considered Adaptations as well. These are not actually sequels in the sense that Iron Man 3 or The Wolverine are, but actually new adaptations of works that continue the story adapted in the first film. The Catching Fire film is an Adaptation of the Catching Fire book, and not just a film continuing the story of another film.

With 40 total Adaptations, they were the second most common film in 2013.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

  1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire* –  $798M
  2. Man of Steel – $663M
  3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug* – $626M
  4. World War Z – $540M
  5. Frozen* – $507M



In this category are all films that are sequels or prequels to other films. Easy huh? There were 19 sequels in 2013.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels at the worldwide box office in 2013 were:

  1. Iron Man 3 – $1.2B <——-Yes, billion.
  2. Despicable Me 2 – $919M
  3. Fast and Furious 6 – $789M
  4. Monsters University – $744M
  5. Thor: The Dark World* – $630M


This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 3 remakes in 2013, here are their international box office totals.

  1. Evil Dead – $97M
  2. Delivery Man – $31M
  3. The Big Wedding – $22M


Top GunJurassic Park, and The Wizard of Oz were all re-released in 3D this year.

In Conclusion

Once again, we see that the vast majority of 2013 films are brand new to the screen, either by way of Original Screenplay or an Adaptation. I include the box office data here for fun, but really, the amount of money a film makes isn’t the best indicator of how good a film is. Look how much money the Twilight series made, and that was awful. In closing, a reminder that these numbers I’m posting here only include widely released films, so there’s really nobody to blame but yourself if you haven’t seen them.

The final part of This Year in Cinema comes tomorrow, with my personal favorites from 2013, and 10 films I’m excited for in 2014!

The Blockbuster Report

It looks to be a pretty tame outing for new films this weekend. I had high hopes for Now You See Me, a new magician/bank robbing caper saga, but it looks to be middle of the road. After Earth, starring Will and Jaden Smith, is telling a story we’ve basically seen already this year, and it is far less effective, even though Oblivion  was far from perfect. As has become routine with M. Night Shyamalan films these days, skip it.

There are a few interesting if unspectacular limited release films out this weekend. ThKings of Summer is a pretty standard coming of age story with runaways and adventure. The East, a spy thriller starring Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page, looks decent, and Shadow Dancer, which could be the best of the three, is a drama involving a woman forced by MI5 to spy on her own family over their ties with the IRA (the Irish one, not the American one).


My Film to See this weekend remains Now You See Me. I like the cast and I’m a sucker for magician stories, even though this isn’t anywhere near The Prestige on my favorite films list. Plus it sure as heck is better than After Earth.

Where Do They Come From?

We have After Earth as an original film, as it was written by Shyamalan and Gary Whitta after getting the story idea from Will Smith. Now You See Me is also an original.

Original: 20

Adaptation: 16

Sequel/Prequel: 8

Remake: 2

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Mud

2) Before Midnight

3) Frances Ha

4) Upstream Color

5) What Maisie Knew

6) Star Trek Into Darkness

7) The Place Beyond the Pines

8) 42

9) Iron Man 3

10) Side Effects

New additions: Before Midnight (#2)

Departures: The Croods

The Blockbuster Report

This weekend, once again, we really only have one “big” film, the Michael Bay directed Pain and Gain. I really wanted this to be a good film, as it stars Tony Shaloub, AKA Mr. Monk, but one look at the trailer will show you that this will be pointless and stupid, even if it is based on a true story.

Mud Banner Poster

A better bet may be the new fresh-from-Sundance Jeff Nichols film: Mud. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Michael Shannon, the Rotten Tomatoes/Roadside Attractions synopsis goes as follows:

“Mud is an adventure about two boys, Ellis and his friend Neckbone, who find a man named Mud hiding out on an island in the Mississippi. Mud describes fantastic scenarios-he killed a man in Texas and vengeful bounty hunters are coming to get him. He says he is planning to meet and escape with the love of his life, Juniper, who is waiting for him in town. Skeptical but intrigued, Ellis and Neckbone agree to help him. It isn’t long until Mud’s visions come true and their small town is besieged by a beautiful girl with a line of bounty hunters in tow.”

The film is in limited release only. The only other wide-released movie out this weekend is The Big Wedding, which you should stay away from. Limited release films include Arthur Newman (Colin Firth, Emily Blunt), The Numbers Station (John Cusack), The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson), and 2012 Oscar nominee Kon-Tiki, Norway’s contribution to the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category.

Where do the Movies Come From?

If Mud reaches wide-release status, I’ll add it, but for now, there’s just Pain and Gain and The Big Wedding. Pain and Gain was adapted from a series of Miami New Times stories by reporter Pete Collins, while The Big Wedding is an American remake of a French film. That brings our totals to…

Original: 17

Adaptation: 14

Sequel/Prequel: 4

Remake: 2

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch (Not including this weekend’s films)

1) Upstream Color

2) The Place Beyond the Pines

3) 42

4) Side Effects

5) The Croods

6) Warm Bodies

7) Stoker

8) Evil Dead

9) Oz, the Great and Powerful

10) Oblivion

New additions: Oblivion (#10)

Departures: Mama

This week, an interesting graph hit the internet.  This graph “shows” that Hollywood is losing its creativity because (gasp!) out of the top 10 highest grossing movies in 2011, eight were sequels/prequels, and two were adaptations (Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger). Alongside those numbers, the graph “shows” how Hollywood is getting less creative because fewer and fewer of the top ten films moneywise are originals. And that my friends, is what we call poppycock.

Seriously? When was movie creativity ever evaluated by how much money it made?

There are a couple HUGE problems with this graph. First of all, although measuring years that are decades apart can show trends, ultimately, those years are STILL a decade apart and thus, can also just be small snapshots of the bigger picture. So there were no originals in the top ten highest grossing films of 2011. Well, in 2010 there were three: InceptionTangled, and Despicable Me. And, as the graph shows, in 1991 there was only ONE original film in the top 10: City Slickers. So if we only take 1991 and 2010 into consideration, then obviously Hollywood must be getting more creative! Just kidding. I won’t make that assumption, because I’m not into shoddy journalism.

Here’s the second, and biggest problem with this graph. WHEN IN THE WORLD DID WE START EVALUATING THE QUALITY OF FILMS BASED ON HOW MUCH MONEY THEY MADE?!? I mean, seriously, most of the time that’s pretty much all the studios care about, but, we as movie fans are supposed to know better! Not once have I heard anyone say they liked TitanicAvatar, or The Avengers because they made a lot of money. Similarly, I’ve never heard anyone complain about not liking a film because it didn’t make a lot of money. Sure, better movies tend to attract more viewers but there’s a reason that summer blockbusters don’t get a ton of Best Picture nominations. They aren’t the best films of the year based on what matters: quality.

So here’s the deal. If we’re going to say Hollywood is getting less creative, we have to look at not just the blockbusters, not just the Oscar-winners, not just a handful, we need to look at the whole picture. Which is where this graph comes into play. Let’s look at the breakdown of movies throughout the years, going five years at a time. It is blatantly obvious that Hollywood is, more or less, just as creative as it was in 1985. And that’s assuming that we’re only counting original screenplays (and maybe adapted screenplays) as ‘original.’ (Side note: I tried my best to include only wide release films, as limited release films are even more skewed toward original, and its hard to get accurate lists of years 10-15 years ago. So yes, if I included limited release films, original and adapted would have even higher percentages of the total).

Obviously, between originals and adaptions, over 75% of each year’s films are brand new to the big screen. Less than 9% are remakes (that includes American remakes of foreign films). How’s that for originality?

One interesting thing to look at: 2005 had more original screenplays than any other year and 1990 had more sequels than any other year. Again, this hardly proves anything because we’re just taking two almost random years and comparing them. But it does show something. Something so obvious that I shouldn’t have to be telling you. Hollywood makes movies based on what is popular and based on what people want to see. And in order to do that, they hire people to produce these films. There will always be someone who wants to turn a TV show into a movie. There was 21 Jump Street this year, there was The Flintstones in 1994, and Masters of the Universe in 1987.

The number of sequels, prequels, and remakes will fluctuate up and down. But we have to realize something. The more movies that are made, the more sequels we are going to get. When I saw Iron Man, I didn’t leave thinking: “I hope they never make another movie about him.” No, I want to see more. And we got The Avengers eventually. If movies based on Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Twilight are popular, people want to see more. Does anyone who liked The Hunger Games really not want Catching Fire to be made? So we can’t really scream bloody murder when there are more sequels being made, because most of them are deserving, either because the interest is there, or because there are more books in the series and people want to see them made.

Now we get to remakes. I certainly will be among the first to say that there are some movies that shouldn’t be remade. Footloose for example. But for every one of those films being remade, there are remakes being made because someone has a vision that a movie could be made better, or different, if they had a shot. The Ring was a remake of the Japanese RinguThe DepartedA Fistful of Dollars, and The Magnificent Seven are all remakes of foreign films. I’d say there are just one to four poorly chosen remakes made a year, if that. That’s less than 5% of all movies. Fine with me.  

And here’s what it comes down to. At the top of the ladder are rich studio bigwigs, but the only way they make that money is by taking suggestions and projects from directors, producers, writers, and actors. And these are all human beings who got into filmmaking because they are artists or because they want to share something they love with the world. If I got a phone call today asking me to write the next Sherlock Holmes or Daredevil film I would jump at the chance. If someone told me I could adapt a book I loved for the big screen, I would do it in a heartbeat. So what if someone has done it before?

Hollywood is just as creative as it has ever been, as if just because you’re adapting something or making a sequel, it doesn’t take creativity. If you don’t want to see something, don’t go see it. If you’re complaining about too many remakes (which are the least common type of movie anyway) or sequels, then think outside the box and go find originals. They are there if you look. And considering that for every year for the past thirty years (and likely more or less every year in history) there have been many more original films made than sequels and remakes, it shouldn’t be that hard.