Why is Nothing Original Anymore?

We all say we’re sick of it, so why do we keep seeing it, and why is nothing original anymore?

About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

230 comments

  1. Interesting topic, and one that I’ve given some thought to in the past. As someone who enjoys old movies (and by old I mean dinosaur old, not nostalgic old) I don’t think Hollywood has changed much over the years.

    Care to guess how many Tarzan movies there are? 51, that I’ve counted, not including TV shows. Dracula? 161. Sherlock Holmes? Fast approaching 300. Apparently there really is nothing new under the sun.

    So…yeah, I too wish Hollywood would churn out a few more original projects that are, you know, actually good, but there’s no cause to worry about the death of film yet.

    Until the 300th My Little Pony remake, that is. *whimpers*

  2. Inception was hardly original. It took a lot from Dreamscape.

  3. I’ve been watching NC for years and only just made an account. I just wanted to ask Doug, if he’s seen the recent film Kingsman: The Secret Service? It blew up the box office, stayed at number 2 only because it came out along side 50 Shades of Grey, and really deserves to be at number 1. It’s definitely inspired by nostalgia, being in the vein of Bond movies, Get Smart, the Man from U.N.C.L.E, and other spy shows and films from the 60’s-70’s, but it also is extremely inventive and Matthew Vaughn hopes to turn it into a franchise (and based on combined US and overseas box offices, it’s heading there).

    It’s incredibly violent, over the top, campy, but it never feels contrived. It really subverts a lot of tropes, and even includes a two disabled antagonists, a female hero who doesn’t become the main character’s love interest, and really creative stunt-work (apparently Colin Firth did 80% of his own stunts? I mean if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know how crazy that is).

    People have panned some of it for being too violent, not what they expected, but really, they just found it wasn’t safe enough, it didn’t match what they’d been given earlier in the action genre, and it was also funnier than the trailers made it out to be. I really think Doug would enjoy it, and I recommend it to any fans of Kickass (the comic it’s based on is by the same author), or Quentin Tarrantino. I really think it’s a step in the right direction for creativity.

  4. When it comes to the Oscars, I’m surprised that anyone outside of the movie industry even cares about them anymore, chances are they will just vote for whatever Oscar-bait is fashionable that year, the people who decide who and what will get an Oscar most likely haven’t even seen the movies in question and the main thing going for the Oscars is seeing which actress wore the best looking dress if you care about that sort of thing…

  5. Lemme try and answer… I don’t go see these movies as a great support to Hollywood, directors or actors but because I enjoy movies on the big screen and when there’s nothing better then this will have to do.

    Sure I’d rather to have had the local distributors show me “Viy” instead of “Transformers 3495836” but hell, if it’s between the transformers on the big screen and all that noise and adrenaline and visuals and just watching something at home… well, the ticket ain’t THAT expensive.

  6. DO AN “ARCHER LET’S WATCH” !!!!!!

  7. Original ideas are just a much bigger risk for bringing in the money! That is what it is all about: MONEY!!

  8. Actually, yes. Yes, it does stop me from going. I haven’t gone to the theater in a long time.

  9. Inception is not original, it’s based on a donald duck comic book.

  10. The videogame industry is suffering from the same thing. Short and indie films could be changed to digital and indie games. They’re the only ones tackling new ideas.

    Still is understandable for example Nintendo is having two new IPs this year and one of them sounds awesome but it’s kinda of reasonable believing it’ll be death on arrival.

    Still we’ll have Batman, MGS V, Halo 5, and Zelda.

  11. There may be only 7 movie concepts, but there are only 4 song concepts. Stop listening to music, o jaded ones.

  12. Yes, it does stop me from going to see them.

    No, I am not going to see Hunger Games.

    I wouldn’t see either movie. Recognized actors and praise don’t make it sound interesting. As for Smurf, I grew up with them and I’m still not sure what they are.

  13. *Sees Wreck-it Ralph*

    That was quite an original idea from Disney though ^_^

  14. Blaze The Movie Fan

    Yeah you’re right, originality is hard.

  15. In my opinion, it’s not that there are no original ideas anymore, it’s just that original ides are just formed in a safer way now. Take Iron Man 3, for example. While it’s not a good movie, ask any comic book fan and they’ll tell you that the movie pretty radically changed The Manderin into an entirely different character. Adaptations do have new ideas to offer for better or for worse. And I would argue that those ideas count just as much as some “original” films that follow typical plots of their genre like Insidious and Taken, if not, the ideas in adaptations should count more. The Secret of Nimh isn’t uninspired or unoriginal because it’s based on a book because the film is still it’s own thing, just like how the Guardians of the Galaxy has it’s own conversations and plot that so many people enjoyed.

  16. thank you so much for giving perspective on adaptations and reboots and also for giving attention to song of the sea.

  17. Doug, you might not want to present “The Secret of NIMH” as an example of an original story. While it’s true Bluth took great liberties with Robert C. Obrien’s original novel, it still counts as an adaptation. Just a loose one.

  18. Personally, while I do think it’s a good movie…I didn’t get that upset when I heard that The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. We had Big Hero 6 and How To Train Your Dragon 2, two completely superior films.
    What I DID get upset over was that the stupid fucking song, Everything Is Awesome, was nominated. It’s repetitive, it’s incoherent and it’s more overrated than Let It Go, which is actually a pretty good song (if not overplayed to death.)

  19. JP4: I’m actually looking forward to Chris Pratt challenging that mutant T-Rex to a “Dance-Off Bro!”

  20. I think the biggest question to ask is, how do you define original? You listed a bunch of sequels but (short of sequelitis) have new things that take the story the next step further or explore further into a known universe. And reboots are a new, original way of looking at things, by their general nature, especially if they are adaptations. How else would most films exist without being an adaptation of something like your favorite film NIMH? Hell, even that book got a bit of a change but was still mostly faithful and ultimately better.

    Example: Lion King is original…until you compare it to Hamlet. Star Wars is already Flash Gordon, a samurai epic, and Lord of the Rings in one and is getting an unneeded sequel from a hack. Jurassic World is a sequel that has nothing to do with almost any of the original characters, isn’t a reboot, and yet nothing of its story is a retread.

    But here’s an even better question…does an original idea/concept have anything to be given a damn about? Just because it’s original doesn’t mean it won’t end up as Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas or Manos, The Hands of Fate vs Marvel’s The Avengers or Gone with the Wind (which are both adaptations).

    Oh, and LEGO movie did get an Oscar – Best Song- and is overrated.

  21. Wait a minute! “The Walking Dead” is a comic book show. “Game of Thrones” and “Secret of NIMH” are just adaptations of books. How are these things any more original than “Guardians of the Galaxy”? In every case we’re simply adapting something from a written medium into a performing medium.

  22. I disagree with Doug’s thesis that the reason movie sequels are getting better is because they are now in the hands of people who grew up with the franchises and love them, as opposed to directors and writers who “didn’t care enough”.

    Firstly, people “back in the day” grew up with these franchises too, but that didn’t stop the stinkers. Batman comics have ben around for 76 years, as long as Joel Schumacher has been alive, but that didn’t stop him from making Batman and Robin.

    And as far as the directors and writers who “didn’t care enough”, you’ve got to realize that nobody ever intentionally makes a bad movie. Everyone always tries their damnedest; even if only because they know the success of the movie will determine their chances of getting another job in the future. The reality is that the studios control the game: a bad movie is far more likely the result of a studio either hiring people who weren’t suited for the project, or interfering too much in the creative process.

    I think the real reason movie sequels are getting better is due to a change in Hollywoods business model. Back in the day, the idea was you’d make a movie as marketable as possible, rush it out into theaters, and if people hate it, who cares, you already have their money.

    But now Hollywood is finally starting to realize that the best way to make money is just to make a good movie. Because if you do that, not only do you get good word of mouth, but you get people wanting to come back for the sequel. Make that one good too, and they’ll come for the next sequel. Earn that brand loyalty and they’ll keep coming back forever.

    The ultimate proof of this is in how directors are selected for projects these days. It used to be directors were hired based off previous box office successes. But now all the time you’re seeing small no-name directors being hired for big projects who have only directed one or two films in the past, often ones that bombed at the box office, but received great critical reception. (Joss Whedon for Avengers, Gareth Edwards for Godzilla, Brad Bird for Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Colin Trevorrow for Jurassic World, James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy, etc.)

    Because the studios are starting to realize that just making a good movie is the best way to get box office.

    • Actually there is something you should consider called an “Ashcan copy”. It’s where something is just made for the sake of existing mostly to just hold onto a license. Roger Corman’s The Fantastic Four was an example of that. Made with little concern for the purpose of holding onto movie rights before they expired.

  23. Interest video, Doug. By the way, I noticed one of the films shown as a clip is The Grand Budapest Hotel. I love the movie and I am a big Wes Anderson fan. Even though it seems as if you’ve seen the film, are you a fan of Wes Anderson’s other work?

  24. I’m not really bothered by the adaptations coming out as I only ever really see the Marvel movies, which haven’t let me down yet. What I’m bothered by is the reboots. All. the. goddam. reboots. We didn’t need Maleficent. We don’t need live action Cinderella. We didn’t need the reboot of Friday the 13th. And we don’t need yet another reboot of Nightmare on Elm Street. Those movies are either cherished or forgotten, move on to something we haven’t already seen on the screen. And don’t get me wrong, reboots can be good; The Thing (1982 ver) is one of my favorite movies ever. But once it had a good version, we didn’t need the 2012 version which sucked horribly.

  25. There is ONE movie that I am waiting for just cause the hero of the movie is my childhood hero that I loved and still love and I still play his old games. I am of course talking about Hugo and his upcoming movie, Hugo: The Worlds Worst Comeback.

    I have no idea if that movie is going to suck, but hell, I still need to see it, and will see it… Unless it gets canceled.

  26. It does annoy me a little when people complain about all the sequels and remakes as if it’s a new phenomenon…and it really isn’t. Hollywood has been doing this since the get-go, the only reason it may feel different is through the internet and home media we’re now aware of what they may be remaking or whatever and it becomes more obvious. I mean, in the classic era, they churned out sequels almost yearly of things like Universal horror–hell they didn’t even wait a year to do a sequel to King Kong–silent films were remade less than a decade later, etc. Hell, a lot of classics are remakes, adaptations, and the like.

    But that being said, as Doug mentions, that by no means says that original shouldn’t exist, and even Hollywood has interesting original properties these days (and even if those might seem similar to existing stuff, well, try and come up with something completely new in a vacuum and see how you go…)

  27. She wasn’t pissed off in Meloncholia, she had crippling depression.

  28. so… gravity falls vlog on new episode. its coming right

  29. Melancholy sounds incredibly stupid. Movies about the end of the world? How pretentious and boring.

    I don’t see anything wrong with a sequel to The Avengers. And it’ll likely stop after the 3rd as that seems to be the way Marvel wants to do it. I just pray they can get their hands back on X-Men and Spider-man so they can do those correctly. Besides, I really want to see Tony Stark have to deal with Professor Xavier.

    But most remakes and reboots suck no matter how you spin it.

    Finally, I always heard that it’s 12 plots, not seven, that we keep retelling.

  30. 1) I wouldn’t see ‘Melancola’ because I’m not a fan of Kirsten Dunst.

    2) There is a remake of ‘Poltergeist’ coming out?

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