Film & TV

The Future of Cinema: Franchises – The Original Screenplay or the Empty Seat?

This autumn saw one of cinema’s biggest box office flops in the form of the Peter Pan remake: Pan. Despite a production budget of $150,000,000 and stars such as Cara Delevigne and Hugh Jackman – cinema goers didn’t bite the bait making it the 8th largest box office fail of all time. And according to The Hollywood Reporter, audience numbers have plummeted across the board in the last 16 years.

So what’s changed?

Well for one, television is having its moment with the video streaming service, Netflix for one have had great success introducing us to the art of the binge-watch. Letting the days slip by as you watch hours of TV in bed is not only now socially acceptable, it’s in vogue!

“In 2004, original movies made up about 38% of films”

And times have changed. About ten years ago, going to the cinema was a lot more of an event, than it is now. We’re now far more likely to go to the cinema a few times a year; to catch on the latest instalment of the latest franchise.

This could be cinema potentially paving a way for new art forms but its nature is in debate along with the issue of if this is a positive for the industry. If you take a scroll through the IMBD’s favourite films of all time as voted by the public, you’ll find mostly classics from the 80’s and 90’s and mostly original screenplays: When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall, Vertigo – among others ‘classics’.


Yet today, the films which garner attention, conversation and critical acclaim, are franchises, remakes and adapted screenplays. These categories continue to create much-loved unique viewing experiences but are they doing so, at the expense of creativity in screenplays? The proof is in the numbers. According to Yahoo Movies, the number of original stories told by major studios dropped from nearly 59% in 1984 to about 51% a decade later. In 2004, original movies made up about 38% of films, a lot, compared to today’s less than 25 %.

The success of Boyhood and Whiplash last year proves that there is no lack of original screenplays but rather a lack of support for them.

Cinema is far from fading away but without getting behind the independent film industry, whether through attending film festivals or simply our city’s cinema’s; such films are unlikely to get a wide release. This comes down to you, the loyal viewer, if you wish to be consumed by unoriginality and a screen dominated by remakes of films we’ve already seen then carry on, if not, try something different, abandon the franchise every now and then.

Susan Akyeampong

Images: pixelkompressor and Insomnia Cured Here via flickr

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Film & TV

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