Hollywood’s Rejection of Creativity

In the summer of 2009, a film was released that was set to rejuvenate Hollywood’s thirst for original content: Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. Less than a year later, James Cameron’s Avatar came out, supposedly changing Hollywood forever. And just this summer, Christopher Nolan’s Inception was released to both critical acclaim and huge box office success. These original, auteur driven projects did not change Hollywood, in fact it now seems that their success has done nothing to fix the lack of original, creative content in Hollywood.

The reason I bring this up is a recent bit of news that has crushed many film fans’ dreams, including mine, that Guillermo Del Toro’s dream project At The Mountains of Madness was cancelled. While this may not be exactly original in the sense that it is based on an H.P. Lovecraft short story, it is still indicative of Hollywood’s lack of trust in proven filmmakers. Mountains of Madness is not a well known story, and while loved in the horror community, H.P. Lovecraft would not bring a huge fan base to the theatre, however Del Toro has more than proved himself.

It is understandable that studios are hesitant about green-lighting big budget original projects, as the risk is very high. It would appear that studios take for granted that audiences are uninterested in seeing films which are not connected to high profile books or comics, however as we have seen, this is simply not true. Studios have bred this supposed lack of interest towards original content. As we have seen time and time again, there is not only an interest for original content in film, but a huge gap in the market as well. There is a thirst for this kind of filmmaking, yet for reasons yet unknown, studios are trying to disguise this thirst as one time exceptions.

Avatar was not a fluke, nor was Inception or District 9. These are films which were able to reach out to mass audiences as they delivered completely new experiences, and yet studios do not want to accept this. If studios are waiting for film goers to prove that they want original content, they are ignoring the blatant examples that for the last couple years have been filling their pockets. That is not to say that studios should be trusting in all filmmakers, but rather that when someone has proven themselves some faith should be shown. Del Toro had a project inches away from being green-lit, yet the studios doubt was too strong.

Of course filmmakers must prove themselves before they are trusted to complete a profitable passion project, but if studios are unable to accept that this works, we will continue to see great filmmakers struggle to get their dreams on film. If studios continue this foolish game, we may not see another Inception or District 9, and have to settle instead for yet another video-game-turned–movie-reboot.

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6 Responses to Hollywood’s Rejection of Creativity

  1. Ben says:

    It’s a sad state for film lovers. Thankfully we have had a lot of foreign and independent films to save the day. I have never put my faith in Hollywood and I especially won’t until these remakes and crappy video game/comic book films die down.

  2. Kate says:

    The thing I didn’t like about Avatar was that it was so completely unoriginal, and many people agree. It was basically just another pocahontas/ferngully/dances with wolves/ect.

    • The plot was similar to many other films, but I think the comparison to Ferngully is very dismissive of what Cameron accomplished with this film. He was going for a story which everyone could relate to in its simplicity, and while I don’t always agree with that, he accomplished something so spectacular with both the world building and the visuals that the film is unique.

  3. Yes, I completely agree, but this is the aftermaths of the 70’s. Ever since then, the dumbing down has continued to decrease to such a low level, that the only thing people and studios want to see are books based on comic books, or even worse, movies based on some ride in a theme park….

  4. Spiney Norman says:

    All movies coming from Hollywood are not the product of creative thinkers but from the minds of accountants and marketers. If they can’t spoon feed it to the mass market of the average American moviegoer, then the accountants won’t give them any money. The film maker has to prove to the bean-counters that it has the same potential as (insert any generic blockbuster movie here) and can be made for next to nothing. Before a movie is made today its box office potential is determined from theatrical to foreign to PPV to Blu-Ray to TV network sales. It has become so much a business that the show part is being left in the dust. We are left to fight for the few scrapes of decent films that come from Independent film makers or Foreign sources, only it is getting tougher to see even those in the theaters. Movies are a stress release for the general population, the more stressed they become, the more mind-numbing movies are released. Lets just hope the economy get better soon.

    • RunningSiren says:

      Film producers have to depend on being able to sell the distribution rights around the world, otherwise no one will see it. And you have to raise as much money as the film cost to advertise it, otherwise no one will see it (i.e. most Canadian films). So you manage to raise enough financing for a $15 million project – then you have to hope you can raise another $15 million to get the film seen – not an easy task anymore. There’s the travel costs involved in shopping it at the various film markets associated with major film festivals (and fly around the cast too). and how many times have we heard of a much-lauded film waiting months and months to “open” because no one has bought the rights to distribute.
      While “The King’s Speech” was not in my top ten films of 2010, it was on many other lists only because Harvey Weinstein took a risk and probably spent about $25 million or more advertising the film, flying around the cast for interviews and generally making sure everyone knew about this film (that apparently only cost $15 millio to make).
      And with the demise of countries’ film funding in general, the scenario is not good for getting some interesting independent projects started, nevermind seen.
      Makes me sad, because no matter how many of us still go to a movie theatre and pay our $12 for a wonderful film like “Never Let Me Go,” it really isn’t helping the people who decided to make this film in the first place because there are just not enough of us.

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