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. I agree..adaptations/reboots do work but only if there’s enough care put into them.

  2. Hobbit-In-The-Hole

    I thought this whole thing was called postmodernism…

  3. Best Editorial from you so far.
    Now I need to see “Melancholia” and “Song of The Sea”.

  4. Jurrasic World
    Terminator
    Alien
    Ghostbusters
    Star Wars
    Tremors
    Mission Impossible

    It’s going to be the year of remakes, reboots, and retcon’s, and with a lot of these titles, I am perfectly okay with this. Outside of a small selection of movies last year I didn’t have much care for what came out. It’s like they were saving everything up for this year.

    I’m also interested in some of the new/original movies as well that were announced, especially that new pixar movie about the emotions

  5. Snow White: based on a fairy tale
    Gone With the Wind: based on a book
    The Wizard of Oz: based on a book
    Pinocchio: based on a book
    The Maltese Falcon: based on a book AND a remake
    It’s a Wonderful Life: based on a short story
    Cinderella: based on a fairy tale
    A Streetcar Named Desire: based on a play
    The Robe: based on a book
    The Ten Commandments: based on a book (not a well-known one or anything, though…)
    Vertigo: based on a book
    Ben-Hur: based on a book AND a remake
    Psycho: based on a book, which itself was inspired by true events
    Dr. No and SEVERAL sequels (I’m not gonna list them all…): based on books AND are sequels
    The Godfather: based on a book
    The Godfather 2: sequel
    The French Connection: based on a book and true events
    Jaws: based on a book (also spawned several sequels I’m not gonna list)
    Superman the Movie: based on a comic book
    Star Trek the Movie: based on a tv show
    The Empire Strikes Back: sequel
    Superman 2: comic book sequel
    Scarface: remake
    The Wrath of Kahn: tv show based sequel
    Psycho 2: sequel
    Return of the Jedi: threequel
    Superman 3: comic book threequel
    Temple of Doom: sequel
    The Search for Spock: tv show based threequel
    Star Trek 4: tv show based four-quel
    Superman 4: comic book… four-quel…
    Back to the Future 2: sequel
    The Little Mermaid: based on a fairy tale
    Back to the Future 3: threequel
    Batman: based on a comic book
    The Last Crusade: threequel
    Star Trek 5: tv show based five-quel
    Hook: based on a book AND a remake of sorts/re-imagining/whatever it is…
    Goodfellas: based on a book and true events
    Terminator 2: sequel
    The Silence of the Lambs: based on a book
    Beauty and the Beast: based on a fairy tale AND the fifth remake
    Star Trek 6: tv show based six-quel
    Last of the Mohicans: based on a book
    Batman Returns: comic book sequel
    Aladdin: based on a folktale
    Jurassic Park: based on a book
    Star Trek Generations: seven-quel based on a tv show sequel (alright, I’m gonna stop with Star Trek…)
    The Fugitive: based on a tv series
    Batman Forever: comic book threequel
    Braveheart: based on a poem and true events
    Casper: based on comic books and cartoons
    Mission Impossible: based on a tv series
    The Prince of Egypt: based on a book AND a remake
    The Lost World: based on a book AND a sequel
    Batman & Robin: comic book four-quel
    Titanic: based on true events AND a remake AND is Romeo & Juliet
    Psycho: remake
    Lost in Space: based on a tv series
    The Phantom Menace: prequel
    Fight Club: based on a book
    American Psycho: based on a book

    … I’m gonna stop at the turn of the century, but hopefully my point has gotten across.

    And that’s not even all of them, because I was just listing the ones that immediately came to mind. And there’s also many, many more than I can’t remember or don’t know about.

    I suppose it’s okay to ask “Why is nothing original?”, but you can drop the “anymore”. Just going through the years off by heart, most of the big films that immediately come to mind were not original. Originality has NEVER been prominent in the film industry. There have been some periods where we see little explosions of originality, like the 70s… but by and large, studios have ALWAYS gone for established properties. This is nothing new.

    It may SEEM like we get so much more of it today… and we do, but we’re actually getting more of EVERYTHING these days, including original content. I could list a hundred original screenplays in just the last ten years if I didn’t waste so much time listing all the unoriginal movies I can think of since Hollywood’s “Golden Age”.

    But when we think about today, we can think of so many more examples because they’re fresh in our minds, so it SEEMS like adaptations, sequels and remakes are getting more focus now than they’ve ever gotten… Whereas ten, twenty years from now, we’ll look back and remember only the stand-out films, a significant portion of which will probably be original screenplays and it won’t look as overrun by the repetitive trash that we’ll forget about. Nobody’s gonna remember 2013 for Smurfs 2… they’re much more likely to remember it for Gravity.

    I also think that people’s standards for originality are getting more and more impossible. Even when the screenplay is original, people still pick it apart if they recognize it’s influences. Avatar was one of the few original blockbusters of the last decade, and people were VICIOUS with it for being too similar to this and that… I’ll never forget this quote from some guy on Avatar’s IMDb page: “I find it quite ironic that in an age filled with shameless adaptations, sequels, remakes, reboots… Avatar gets attacked for being unoriginal.” I like Avatar, but I can recognize it’s flaws, and unoriginality was never on that bothered me. Too many cheesy moments and cliched dialogue is what dragged it down, not similarities to Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas.

    If you want originality, there’s tons of movies from just last year you can check out. Heck, Chappie is an original screenplay that’s in theatres right now. I’ve heard it’s not very good, but it’s original. Unless you want to play the Avatar game and say, “No, it’s just a rip-off of RoboCop and Short Circuit!”… in which case, my previous point is proven. You can play that game with almost any original screenplay. Every story is going to be similar to some other story to some degree.

    Also, for the record… I find it a little funny that when Doug started talking about how tv shows are great now, in a video talking about originality… he shows Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, both adaptations, but doesn’t show or talk about Breaking Bad, which is original (and one of the best things in recent years, if not ever…)

  6. I’m really glad that there are actually people who put effort in making a live-action movie based on old nostalgia. For example, George Of The Jungle is based on an old cartoon from the same person who made Rocky And Bullwinkle, and everybody was shocked to see that Paddington was actually a good movie. Why? Because it’s a live-action adaption based on a toy that also had an animated series, and they would usually suck ass when it’s in live-action. *cough* Transformers.*cough*

  7. I always hated The Smurfs lol.

  8. A good commentary. However I think one major factor that often gets overlooked in this discussion is the economy. Pretty much everyone aged 25-35 had the rug pulled out from under them in 2007 and even now there are many who have yet to recover. Naturally, when the present sucks it makes people yearn for a (comparatively) better time in their lives and as a result revisit the things that brought them joy when they were younger. Yes, all this nostalgia is a phase fueled by the instant marketability of preexisting properties. However there’s a reason it started in the late 00’s rather than in the 90’s.

  9. The reason people love these & watch these is that the audience’s attention spans are so short that it’s not marketable to create anything lasting. That & the desire for instant gratification makes it so that a lot of people buying things don’t think about whether or not they’ll regret a purchase before they get something.

  10. Javier Fernandez

    While on the subject of Originality, why not an Old vs New between Judge Dredd and Dredd?

  11. I have to disagree on The Lego Movie being an adaptation. While I will give that the story and characters themselves are somewhat cliche when you come down to it (though no less enjoyable), the idea that it’s an adaptation because it’s Lego is like saying Melencolia was an adaptation because it used actual human actors. “Lego” isn’t really a franchise in the same way that Iron Ma or Thor are. A random stop motion on youtube using Legos (there’s a ton, go check) are no more based” on Lego than the Lego Movie.

  12. Well, yeah, we’ve been getting a lot of sequels, reboots, and sequels to reboots, but I think that’s what we as audiences have wanted lately, to the point where that’s what’s taken over the mainstream consciousness. What seems like good news to me is that we may finally be coming to a point where the moviegoing public at large doesn’t necessarily want another Transformers move or another Avengers movie, or 50 Shades of Grey Part Two.

    In a lot of ways, I’ve been glad I haven’t had money to spend on movies the last year and a half or so, but from what I’ve been hearing lately, there may finally be one or two I’d want to go see.

  13. Very good assessment of the way if things, and excellent look towards the future. As a side note, am I the only one who hates the lego movie? That’s the problem with remakes, as opposed to new ideas. With a new idea, you are taking a risk, so you have a more or less equal chance with everyone, at least in the beginning. With a remake, however, you have something which everyone already knows, which means that, though there is less of a risk, you also automatically have a smaller potential audience than you would normally, since anyone who wasn’t a fan of the original material, will not be responsive to a movie based on it. I was always the kind of kid who would rather read a book or do mathematics, than to play with legos, just being a bit bored by them. I never got into the lego games either, despite trying them for over 4 hours.

    That’s the thing I feel was left out, a bit, in this video. That you didn’t go into the flipside of remakes, the idea that, for those who weren’t thrilled with, or not fans of the original, you lose them immediately, whereas with an original product, if the marketing team has done their job, you have a bigger potential audience, since no one really can have any opinions of the product coming in, only of products like it.

  14. One could argue that Back to the Future should be rebooted and then another could argue that that person is a c*** for saying that. Some films should be left alone period

    • Quite honestly, I would be game for a Back to the Future reboot, mainly for the sake of updating the timeline (you know, 2015 doesn’t look anything like in Back to the Future Part 2). If they were to do it, it’s important that they try to stay true to the original movie in style and tone, as well as avoid overloading it with pop culture references (a common problem in modern day adaptations).

  15. Another thing to note is that sometimes original ideas are always most likely to have had some inspiration from a previous work. Many elements from Star Wars were inspired by samurai films, and Godzilla was actually inspired by the Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. The point is, because we live in a time where we have access to so many stories that we connect to, some of that story is going seep into our original ideas, so “technically,” you could say most of our movies are adaptations of a previous effort or idea (Birdman, while a very different and original movie, obviously has parts we recognize (Birdman sounds a lot like Batman (who Micheal Keaton once played) and the whole idea of making a broadway musical about Birdman is almost similar to how they tried making a Spider-man musical).

    As someone who wants to pursue independent filmmaking as a hobby, I can’t help but come up with ideas for adaptations more than original ideas. Sometimes I work around these ideas by considering concepts never seen before (like for my ideas on an adaptation of Beowulf, I considered a Terra Nova style world where humans from the future coexist with dinosaurs).

  16. I’m glad Doug actually bothered pointing out how good remakes/reboots exist. I’ve seen far too many instances where people just stick their heads up their asses and say they all suck.

  17. It’s a one thing to have an adaptation of relatively unknown intellectual property like “Guardians of the galaxy”, it’s something completely different to have yet another, unnecessary adaptation of well-known franchise; “The Dark knight’s” corpse are still warm, and yet WB are making yet another incarnation of Batman on big screen, this time they crossing him over with another most overused hero, Super-super-man. And they will both fight against Lex Luthor… never seen that before; except in almost all Christopher’s Reeve movies, with exception of “Superman III”… And why they are doing this? Because, they know that fanboys will eat it up, and they will ask for more… No, matter how good or bad, movie will be, they will going to see it. Same with “Star Wars”; objectively speaking SW prequels are bad and most people hate them, and yet people just can’t wait to see one of the most unnecessary sequels in history of cinema; Episode VII.

    Sorry, but fanboys/fangirls are hopeless. It’s time to face the facts: nostalgia is hurting movie industry; it’s killing creativity and originality, it’s the source of stagnation in Hollywood. And if if something is not growing, then it’s dying. It’s time to left nostalgia behind and to look to the future; to explore new possibilities and to search for new ideas. That’s what art is all about; it’s about creativity and innovation, not about repeating this same old, tired formula.

  18. There’s nothing wrong with adapting a book. Heck, the LEGO movie was pretty creative.

    The problem is not making moves that are not based on anything, but movies that are remakes or needless sequels. Also, adaptations that suck (Smurfs).

  19. Nostalgia Critic I have a question why are claymation movies always good

    • Unlike other films, claymation films take far to much time and effort to be anything other than a passionate endeavor, no one phones in a claymation film.

  20. “But that still doesn’t stop you from going to see them, does it?”

    Um, YES, it fucking does. Not everyone is a lazy drone who mindlessly shuffles into the cinema the second they hear a familiar name. For me personally, the decision as to whether I’ll see a movie or not is based mainly on quality. There is a massive difference between seeing the Avengers movie and the Michael Bay TMNT movie, and it’s not like it’s a mystery ahead of time which one is going to be any good. If you go to a movie that you know in advance is going to be a shitty cash grab based solely on name recognition, you’re part of the problem. Not every sequel or remake has to suck, but as long as people go to them without any standards in mind whatsoever, the majority of them WILL suck.

  21. Well im kinda proud to say that i did’nt wait until Robb started his “blockbuster strike” to start mine. It started with Harry Potter and its still going right now.

    Okay, there had been some exceptions because, hey, sometimes, you and your friends just want to go see a movie, right ?

    But most of the time, we should just hang on in a bar and talk instead of wasting our time and money.

    And i don’t even begin to understand those who go see Twilight, 50 Shades and Hunger Games… seriously, you did’nt see see it coming? It was in the trailer !

  22. Which is more horrifying to look at? Uncanney Valely CGI chipmunks, or Uncanny Vally CGI smurfs?

    The video game industry works the same way.

    Why not make a Top 11 List of Original Movies We Should Be Watching Right Now?

  23. New ideas are a good thing but only if its good the movie that you said dos not sound good at all
    I welcome new movies
    Some reboots are shit and unneeded
    Reality TV are never good they are all a waist of time and money

    Do you really hate the idea of a new Star Wars ok i do not like that Disney is owning it it could damage it but it dos looks cool

  24. THE CINEMATIC MIND

    You know it amazes me how documentaries never get attention nowadays. Have there been films before Network or Quiz Show? Cause I feel there isn’t films like them before they come out. People complaining about adaptations need to understand whether the book or play is great or bad. Then consider the flaws of that good book. If the plot does not work at all in the film, reconsider changing the plot, use the characters and the messages/themes with that new plot. Otherwise, never bother to adapt it to begin with. That’s just me. Think about it, some either need show, don’t tell, others need telling and showing. With Historical films either Bio-Pics or not is another matter.

  25. I do agree, though I suppose people like myself will always be more drawn back to more original films of the past. On something of a side note, as much as I enjoy your videos, I would like to see them come out with subtitles as I have grown up with an appreciation for them, living with a hard of hearing sister and mother, both of whom would really enjoy your videos as much as I if they could follow what is said.

  26. I really don´t care if a movie is a adaptation or not and why should I.
    A lot of my favorite movies are adaptations were i never read/watched the source material. And with the few I did there were enough differences to enjoy both.
    I compare only that adaptations or the parts of them whitch copied the source material.

    A sequel is not always more of the same, just watch Captain America: The first Avenger and Winter Soldier. And in some cases “the same” could have improved thanks to the experiences and the higher budget like in Terminator 2.
    A reboot can be something good after a Franchise goes downhill like Highlander. A good reboot would meen a good Highlander movie after decades and a bad one couldn´t do any more damage after the horrible sequels. Just look at Planet of the apes.

  27. I have the theorie that the percentage of stuff not based on anything else it’s the same since very long time ago. Just check in imdb for succesfull movies of some old year. You’ll see they are based on books, plays, older movies or true stories. Just not videogames or cartoons because of obvious reasons.

    The media that gets more original stuff are books, because you need just one person to write a book and a few editors. There are not too big risks. Once the product has proven succesfull, they make a movie about it. I mean, Harry Potter were not original movies, they were based on books. But books that were 3 years old or something like that. Same with Hunger Games, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey, etc. (and I’m not saying this stuff is good. Most of it I haven’t seen). They start as original in a media not so expensive.

  28. HEY! I have trust in JJ. Abrams and star wars!

  29. I’m guessing Doug hasn’t seen Everything is a Remix. everythingisaremix.info/

    Also, there is new content coming out, you just have to look for it because it’s usually not a “blockbuster” film.

  30. Anybody know what the stylistic looking animated movie shown a few times in the second half of the video is? It looks right up my alley.

    • found it, it looked like the same art style used in the Secret of Kells, turns out it was directed by the same guy, I was right, looks like it’s right up my alley. 😀

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.