Is Hollywood all about remakes and sequels?

For me, it is not a question anymore. Originality is dead, which is becoming the 'fact.' But is it so? Let's take a look at the box office history, the only reliable scale to measure success in Hollywood. From Box Office Mojo's database, the following is the breakdown of top 20 films in the past year (as of Oct 2009):

  • Remake (reboot): Star Trek
  • Sequel (including prequel): Transformers, Harry Potter, Ice Age, Madagascar, Wolverine, Night at the Museum, Quantum of Solace, Fast and Furious
  • Original (adapted): Twilight, G.I. Joe, Marley and Me, Slumdog Millionaire
  • Original (totally original): Up, The Hangover, Monsters Vs. Aliens, The Proposal, Gran Torino, Paul Blart, Taken

There are two surprises, both of which are positive for us moviegoers. First, there is only one remake: Star Trek (and it is an excellent movie in itself). Second, the number of totally original films (seven) almost matches the number of sequels (eight). If we add the number of adapted works, "original" (more or less) films contain more than half of the top 20 films in the past year.

The hope is not lost yet. As long as movies based on original screenplays make money, we can expect the local cineplex won't be just about showing Spider-man / Shrek / Pirates of the Caribbean.