The Chris Column: The Green Glow of the Unoriginal
By Chris Alexis
As I understand it, fashion trends tend to act like a boomerang. Once propelled away, they inevitably return. The same, ultimately, is true of movies. Recent and upcoming releases include THE KARATE KID, ROBOCOP, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, FOOTLOOSE, FRIDAY THE 13TH, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, RED DAWN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN, and MAD MAX. These are new films. But they’re old films. I distinctly remember being a kid and seeing, or knowing about, all these movies. But they’re back — new and improved. (I say that last part with a dose of dripping sarcasm for the most part.) But there’s a natural curiosity to see what the Hollywood of today has done with the movies of yesterday. I certainly find myself reading about them and even buying tickets. (Of course, remakes are limited to the 80s. They include everything from OCEAN’S 11 (1960) to THE CROW (1994) … just sayin’ when it comes to the above list.) The question of wondering why Hollywood is putting out so many remakes is hardly a unique one. And in response, some studio folk have said it’s about brand recognition. If they put out a movie with characters the general public is familiar with – and already a fan of – you have a built-in audience. And, as an overall public, we can’t blame Hollywood for making these films. If all these films bombed, they wouldn’t keep churning them out. But it’s all about the green glow of these remakes. The green glow of cold, hard cash is what makes the Hollywood world go round. It always has and it always will. Do I own the new KARATE KID on Blu-ray? Yep. Think I’m going to buy a ticket for ROBOCOP and even TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES? Of course! (I grew up on those turtles…) And this is something I have in common with literally millions of people. The same goes for sequels. I can’t wait to see Superman return to the big screen for the sequel to MAN OF STEEL, where the hero clashes with Batman. It doesn’t come out until 2016, but I’m already set to camp out for tickets. Again … so are MILLIONS of other people. And each one of them is more than willing to pull out their 10 bucks for a seat. And a healthy portion of that population is going to see it multiple times. And this isn’t limited to superheroes. There’s a lot of buzz about the fourth JURASSIC PARK film, the next chapters in the AVATAR universe, and of course, the next STAR WARS trilogy *and* spinoffs. Just to name a few. Tired of the rehash? Original films with no connection to previous franchises can still be the main output of Hollywood if it’s what the public demands. We’d need to stop putting money into these remakes and sequels if we want those particular wells to dry up. But there’s another layer to this thing. And this is directed toward those with dreams of being a successful Hollywood screenwriter. As someone who has made numerous attempts to get read by the studio brass, held the occasional meeting, and read numerous interviews with executives, producers and readers … I know they’re telling people great scripts are hard to come by, honestly. Everyone, it appears, wants to be a screenwriter. And with the piles upon piles of scripts that appear on the desks of Hollywood, most of them just aren’t any good. Sure, there are some great scripts floating around out there. And producers are always, always looking for those. But the truly great script is more of a rare commodity than you might believe. So, to those aspiring writers … I say this. Hone your craft. Write and re-write. Polish it and make it the best possible script you can. Write from the heart, make it relatable. Make it a solid page-turner. And then work hard and do everything you can to get in front of the right people. It’s no easy feat. It takes some people years and eight or 18 scripts to get a foot in the door. But if that’s what you want, and you seek to put something new and wonderful into Hollywood, do whatever you can if it’s your dream. The more original films we see and new – and truly great — scripts we produce, the more Hollywood will take notice. If we, as a general public, reach a point of saturation with the remakes and sequels, we have to stay out of those auditoriums. I admit to being drawn in by the unoriginal on multiple occasions, but I don’t make up the masses. I’m just me. And you’re just you. All I know is Hollywood is forever drawn to the green glow. Where will it stem from? That’s up to us. The ones who make the movies will simply follow our lead.