NOBODY MAKES ORIGINAL MOVIES ANYMORE.
Okay . . . That’s not true. People do make original movies. They are out there, but not everybody is willing to put in the effort of scrolling through Netflix, Amazon Prime, or (insert random streaming service here) to find them. Most of the general movie-going audience will head to their main theater and see what everyone else is seeing. There is nothing wrong with that. Not every city has the luxury of an indie movie theater. However, the choices of original movies even at major movie theater chains is thinning every year. Cinephiles have been talking about this for a long time, saying exactly the opening line of this article verbatim. In the end, that statement just isn’t true – take it from someone who watches a lot of horror movies, a genre where you will find a lot of those great original stories.
Now, I’ve said “original movie” a few times, which sounds vague. Basically, what I’m talking about when I refer to something as “original” is any movie that isn’t a sequel, prequel, reboot, or adaptation. The basic premise should be completely from the mind of the writer and/or director, standing on its own apart from existing properties. The world of independent film has been booming the past couple of years, churning out some of the most original and fresh movies every year. Unfortunately, the problem arises with finding these movies to watch them. There’s a reason most people don’t know firsthand any of the movies up for awards at the Oscars these days. Most of these great original movies are available through iTunes, Amazon, or some other form of VOD. Even though millenials are taking over the internet and probably would have no problem finding underrated independent gems, there is still a large number of people in the world, including many millenials, who want to see movies in the more-traditional theater setting. This is where the problem lies.
I saw Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, which has been getting rave reviews, the other night and I enjoyed it a lot. Though I didn’t love it as much as most people, it’s undeniable that it is one of the most original movies of the year. It was refreshing to watch a movie I didn’t feel like I had seen before, with cool premises and characters that I didn’t feel like I already knew. In the modern cinematic world, this is hard to come by. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the movies currently playing at my local Regal theater: Cars 3, Baby Driver, Despicable Me 3, The House, Transformers: The Last Knight, 47 Meters Down, All Eyez On Me, Rough Night, The Book of Henry, It Comes At Night, The Mummy, Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2. Out of those fourteen movies, only five of them are original properties (and that is only if you count a knockoff of The Hangover as original). In that crop of movies, we have reboots/franchise tentpoles, a fifth entry in its series, some comic book movies, and a book adaption. Why is there so little originality within easy reach?
At this point, I know what you’re thinking: “but Deezus. . .dO yOu kNow HoW hARd iT iS TO cOme uP wITh aN oRigInaL mOviE?” I’m glad you asked. It’s not very hard actually. Here are five ideas that I thought of while sitting in my room that could totally be made today*:
Speak of the Devil – A black comedy starring Franklin, a meek, down on his luck stockbroker. Franklin has no girls, no money, and, most importantly, no confidence. One day, a voice in his head starts telling him how to get ahead and befriends Franklin. It turns out that this voice is the Devil. Years later, to pay off his debt, The Devil tasks Franklin with assassinating the president.
Do Not Disturb – A hard-boiled character study into a hotel maintenance worker who fantasizes about murdering residents. We follow his slow descent into madness, surrounded by the different, odd personalities within the hotel. Soon, as dreams begin to grow more menacing, thoughts become reality.
Mind Games – An intimate thriller led by a gambler/con man who has won all the games and taken every casino in town. Needing a new thrill, he hears about one very high stakes secret game. This game turns out to be played by a group of psychic card players. Can the con man outsmart players that are already inside his head?
VIP Status – A coming-of-age story that follows two broke college freshmen who hatch a plan to steal VIP tickets to Coachella. The movie spans a twenty-four hour period as the girls embark on a drug-fueled odyssey of self-discovery through the illustrious music festival.
Number One Draft Pick – An emotional sports drama based around the life of a highly-touted college wide receiver as he plays through his senior year of football, juggling temptation, personal relationships, and the pressures of being the projected top draft pick for the NFL.
I’m not saying that these movies would all be big summer blockbusters. But, considering these pitches were all hatched in around twenty minutes, this is not a half-bad start. All I’m really doing is entertaining the notion that anyone can come up with an original idea. I’m no screenwriter, but how much harder is it to come up with an original idea rather than taking someone else’s ideas and making them your own?
There are many young, talented writers and directors out there with original ideas who are making fresh movies. Unfortunately, no one is seeing these movies. It is a vicious cycle: another Transformers movie is made, and people go see it because it is what is offered to them. Another Transformers movie makes money, which leads to another Transformers movie being greenlit and, eventually, made. It is not just on Hollywood for not green lighting or screening original movies. The responsibility is also with consumers. If you want to see more original movies, you have to support them.
So, the next time that you want to watch a movie, instead of spending money to settle for another mediocre Pirates of the Caribbean movies, find an indie movie online and rent it instead. High-quality original movies are out there, and they are so easy to find. You just have to watch them.Now, pardon me. I have to go find a director for Mind Games.