Why Does Hollywood Copy Old Plots?

Written By: Timothy Fish Published: 3/5/2007

You have probably noticed that Hollywood makes a practice of reusing old plots. Many movies are based on a book. If it isnít based on a book it may be a remake of a previously successful movie. It might be based on a comic book character or on a television show. You might ask if Hollywood can come up with something new. They are supposed to be a bunch of creative geniuses. At least that is what they say at their annual awards show.

The Cost of Creativity

I donít think the movie industryís problem is so much that they canít come up with anything new, but the demand for success makes it hard for them to do something new. It can cost millions of dollars to produce a movie. Even a movie with a handful of actors may involve hundreds of people and may have to be shot at several locations. There is also the cost of equipment that must be covered. With all of this expense, the movie industry isnít looking for something new, it is looking for the next sure thing. To get this there is a tendency to look to things that already have a fan base. If people have already read the book, watched the show or seen an older movie and they liked it then it is more likely that the new movie will be a success.

A Lack of the Best Writers

In general, when a person sets out to be a writer, he doesnít decide to write for the movie industry. He might do that to pay the bills, but the mechanism is just not in place to allow for screen plays to regularly be the first trial of a plot. Because of the expense, there are fewer high quality movies produced each year than there are high quality books. A writer who wants to tell a story is not likely to put all of his eggs in the screen play basket. The best writers will instead tend to focus their attention toward books. If their books are successful, movie producers may see their story and inquire about converting the story into a script. But if they focus on the screen play and it is a failure, it is not an easy task to convert it into a book and hope that it is better received than what the script was received. There is always the option of publishing the book against recommendations from publishers, but making an independent movie can be an expensive proposition.

Change Unlikely

It is unlikely that we will see Hollywood create many of their own things in the near future. They will continue to build on the successes of others. We in turn will be left to be wowed by their special effects as we notice something very familiar to what we are watching.