The Economics of Hollywood Part II: What’s with all the Remakes, Sequels and Reboots?

By Geoff Ratliff

Hollywood has gotten really lazy lately. Or has it? I’m not certain exactly when the trend reached the out-of-control level that it’s at now, but over the past several years it appears that the studios have taken us as consumers for granted by force feeding sequel, after remake, after reboot upon us. It’s elevated to a point where it appears that less and less quality films are being made, but this simply isn’t true. There are plenty of good movies being made these days, but you often have to look a little harder to find them amidst all the noise and heavy promotion behind The Things, the Final Fantasy 3D’s,  the Green Lanterns, and the Transformers 3’s of the world. It’s easy to blame Hollywood for the current state of affairs, but like the current state of the music industry, the real problem is with us the consumer, for as much as we’d like to believe otherwise, our tastes aren’t as sophisticated as we’d like to believe they are.

Lest you believe I am standing on my pulpit belittling the masses, I assure you that this is far from true. I love my bad pop music and CGI infested summer blockbusters as much as the next person. Of the three films I mentioned above, I saw three of the four on opening weekend (Final Fantasy 3D wasn’t in my wheelhouse, but more on that later). When it comes to fiction, I like my big, glossy, loud films; you can keep your 700 page novels. I was as big a fan of the Harry Potter franchise as my wife was when it came time to seeing the movies, but I haven’t read one page of any of the books. Give me my two hours of mostly mindless entertainment and I’m good to go. This attitude describes 80-90% of the movie going public, and Hollywood knows this. Where I personally differ from Joe Popcorn Lover, is that I also financially support the 50/50s and The Big Years of the world, something that most people don’t do.

The safe argument is that the big box office movies appeal to a wider audience and about that there is no question. But why? Well that answer is pretty simple too. People would rather spend their weekend evenings being temporarily suspended from reality, not reminded of it. I get that; so if Hollywood is simply giving us what we want, why do we bitch about it so much? Well, frankly, we don’t.

Some will have you believe that there is some Occupy Hollywood movement objecting to the making of Saw VII or another Spider Man reboot, but that’s not quite true. There are a small number of critics who take their jobs way to seriously, bashing these films in their newspapers and on websites and loudly proclaiming that the death of Hollywood is eminent, ignoring all the while that entertainment is, above all else, the name of the game. Maybe the Hollywood that they once loved is no longer recognizable, but the industry as a whole will survive and continue to do just fine in its current incarnation and the movie going public will be no worse off because of it. Declining box office sales are not some eminent sign, as declining record sales were for the music industry – that the system is broken. Like Calgon, sometime we just want to be taken away, and Hollywood is doing a fine job of obliging.

Follow Geoff on Twitter @snglemarriedguy

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