Time and time again I hear that Hollywood has no creative ideas and everything is nothing more than an adaptation of a book, or stage play, a sequel, a re-imagining, or a remake. When you look at the staggering amount of films being produced within the categories previously listed, it can certainly seem that the simple answer to the question of if Hollywood has a creative problem, it’s a resounding, “yes.” While I know I can’t be the only one with Super-hero fatigue and sequel sickness, I have recently began to look at the question more closely.
In 2018 the top five grossing films were, Black Panther (based not the Marvel Comic of the same name), Avengers Infinity War (also based on a Marvel Comic), Incredibles 2 (the sequel to 2004’s smash-hit), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (the sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World, which was a relaunch of the already 3-film-deep franchise), and Deadpool 2 (the sequel to 2016’s hit, also based on a Marvel Comic). Every one of the films match the categories I listed at the beginning of this post. Interesting. What is more interesting is that it is not until number 14 of the top grossing list until we get to an original film, and that is Bohemian Rhapsody, which tells the story of Queen- not exactly that original. So then it is really number 15 on the list with A Quiet Place that we get a truly original story on film. We won’t see another original story until number 33’s Rampage (shutters), and 38’s Smallfoot. Out of the 100 top grossing films, there were 42 with original stories, and that is including true stories, without those there were only 35.
Okay, we have the data, but what is interesting is that a ton of great cinema was released last year. Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Eighth Grade, and Roma were all great entries into American cinema, have you seen them? What about Bad Times at the El Royale, Cold War, or Game Night. None of these films cracked the top 100 grossing films of last year (aside from Game Night at number 43, and technically Cold War is a foreign film, but Amazon distributed it here in the states).
What I am getting at, is that I think Hollywood’s “creative rut” is less of a “rut” and more of a response to what people want. People speak with their money. With Black Panther, Avengers, and Incredibles 2 making over $600 million each, it’s safe to say the people have spoken. Hollywood likes one thing: money. If we can support those smaller films, the ones with original stories, I’m certain that more films like them will be made. My top 15 list of must sees in 2019 consists of 12 original stories (I’m including true stories here as original), check them out below:
The Farewell (Based on true story)
A Hidden Life (Original)
Little Women (Based on a novel)
Harriet (Based on true story)
Queen and Slim (Original)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Based on true story)
Judy (Based on true story)
Lucy in the Sky (Original)
Rocketman (Based on true story)
The Last Black Man in San Fransisco (Original)
The Laundromat (Based on true story)
Cats (Based on musical of same name)
The Goldfinch (Based on book)
Just 3 films on my list are adaptions of other source material (which doesn’t bother me nearly as much as botched sequels, and creatively bankrupt remakes). What I want to encourage you to do is to find those original stories, share the trailers on social media, and go support them! They are out there, we just have to find and support them. When we do, Hollywood will take notice. The creative projects are out there, we just have to get the money to them.
Do you have a favorite original story from last year (2018) or this year already? Let me know in the comments!
* All data from The Numbers