The last few years have seen a deluge of Hollywood rehash flooding the market place. I often overhear people complaining about the onslaught of film remakes and movies defiling precious childhood memories. With the current releases of Evil Dead and G. I. Joe: Retaliation, the trend continues to dominate theater screens everywhere and begs the question: what happened to originality?
2008 happened. Before the market crash of that year and the subsequent “Great Recession” that followed, a significant portion of studio financing came from European, and particularly German, private equity investment. The German tax code at the time allowed for easy and seamless private investment in Hollywood studios. The stock market was at an all time high, so the studios could take those private investments and make movies without the intense oversight of their corporate masters.
After the crash, the ensuing recession caused belt tightening around the globe. Germany said “no more” to lax private investment and the studios had corporate eyeballs peering intently into every nook and cranny to make sure that the movies made were definitely going to be profitable. That meant one thing: the built-in audience.
All six diversified media conglomerates whose various movie production and distribution subsidiaries command approximately 90 percent of the U.S. and Canadian box offices are owned by larger corporate entities. Viacom owns Paramount, Comcast owns Universal, The Disney Company owns Disney Studios, Time Warner owns Warner Brothers, News Corp owns Fox, and Sony owns Columbia. As with any asset, the studios are just part of bigger corporate portfolios, and, above else, need to make a profit. If not, a change in management is inevitable.
The enormous successes of movies like The X Men and Iron Man taught the studios that built-in audiences virtually guaranteed lowering the risk of a major theatrical release. If movies were based on comic books, and those comic books already had millions of fans, the films were bound to have millions of tickets pre-sold before the first shot had taken place.
Films are products that are bought and sold, and as such, are driven and controlled by the marketplace. If remakes and comic books movies are profitable, then the studios will continue to make them. Like comic books, video games, television shows, cartoons, and even board games have provided a wellspring of nostalgic material from which films can be culled, and if the studios feel that they can make a profit off of films based on those, then they will.
Simply put, The reason that there is so much rehash going on is because a lot of people like rehash…at least enough to buy a ticket and go to the movies. If people stop watching movies based on cartoons and comic books, and demand original content, the studios will have no choice but to follow suit.