Violet Van Fleet ‘21, Feature Editor
When the average American is scrolling through their Netflix account, it is painfully obvious that Hollywood nowadays is flooded with awfully-made sequels, live-action remakes, and spin-offs that no one asked for (cough, Dumbo (2019), cough). Pair that with our parents reminiscing about all the unforgettable movies from the years before us, and it is easy to wonder where Hollywood went wrong.
The 1980s and 1970s brought us films such as Jaws (1975), The Godfather (1972), Labyrinth (1986), The Princess Bride (1987), and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986): fantastic movies that served as monuments to the magic that can be created in a film studio. Recently, it seems as though making money and throwing out quick cash-grabs has become more important than producing quality.
This is not new. Hollywood has been pumping out unwanted sequels and staining the lineage of perfectly wonderful films since before most of us were born. One clear example of Hollywood’s declining standards is the case of the sequels that follow The NeverEnding Story (1984). Many of us know the original film from the catchy tune that Dustin from Stranger Things sings over the radio with his girlfriend while his friends listen in confused, second-hand embarrassment.
Lesser known is the slew of sequels it inspired. If you are a die-hard fan of Atreyu, the tenderest eleven-year-old warrior the world has ever seen, then, by all means, do not watch The NeverEnding Story II: The Next Chapter (1990) and The NeverEnding Story III (1994). Without turning this article into a film review, let us just say that these continuations of the beloved film barely fall short of cataclysmic. Not even Stranger Things could save it. When asked about the evolution of movies, Film as Literature teacher Mrs. Brittany Smithkort said, “In my opinion, while the visual effects are of higher quality, it has become harder to create original stories. That’s why we have seen a lot of remakes.”
This is being done to countless movies. The same cookie-cutter plots are being used over and over again along with stretching out a series far longer than it should be like with Indiana Jones. Companies create watered-down films and act surprised when people pay attention to quality, but in reality, as long as you have bought a ticket, they are satisfied. However, this is quickly changing. In hand with piracy, many film studios are being affected by a dip in profits due to less attendance and overall involvement in new movies. VanityFair.com said that “between 2007 and 2011, overall profits for the big-five movie studios—Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Disney—fell by 40 percent.”
Today, the conditions of our theaters are even worse, especially with Disney pushing seemingly dozens of lackluster live-action remakes that have audiences everywhere praying that their childhood will not be ruined due to the poor quality of these remakes. Of course, there are exceptions. Peter Pan (2003), Maleficent (2014), and Aladdin (2019) have added to the character development while still doing the original story justice.
Hollywood has seemingly forgotten the purpose of making movies, which is to inspire, spread ideas, and promote thought. Here is some more food for thought: Computer-generated imagery (CGI) does not always make a film better. There is simple beauty in a classic cartoon that hits the average viewer with enough nostalgic vibes to give them whiplash—in a good way, of course.
While there seems to be no hope for the future of movie-making, there is a solution to this dilemma. The answer could lie in finding inspiration from books and short stories as well as recreating movies in terms of book accuracy. For example, recreating the Percy Jackson movies (2010 and 2013) and a Miss Peregrine’s House for Peculiar Children (2016) remake is also in order, preferably one that does not change the core details of the main characters. Pulling from our literary friends has yielded many wonderful results in the past, such as the television series Good Omens (2019), based on the book by Neil Gaiman, which left many fans satisfied and yearning for more.
Hollywood filled our childhood with color and light, but that is already fading. They must be stopped from short-changing the future generation with unoriginal ideas and sad representations of what movies should be. Movies are about seeing yourself as a part of the story, not as a rebranded copy.
Photo courtesy of forbes.com