Yeah, we're basically screwed …
There’s a never-ending cycle happening in the world of entertainment: Re-boots of movies, books, video games and television shows that we’ve already heard of. The culture of Western entertainment seems to be based off the idea that, if it was successful once, it will be successful again.
Does the world need a new Star Wars, Batman, or Paranormal Activity movie every single year for the rest of our lives? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop production companies from spoon-feeding the same stories over and over again.
Less than 1 percent of movies in 2014 were original ideas. Meaning, the embedded storylines had absolutely nothing to do with any movie, comic, television show or book that came out beforehand.
It’s bad enough movies keep getting remade, yet some of them don’t even bother changing the stories around. Take Star Wars: The Force Awakens for example. Its story is basically the same thing that happened in the original movie. Some person, who has no idea who their real parents are, gets sucked into trying to stop The Empire, who just happens to have a weapon that blows up planets, and somewhere down the line, you find out the shocking revelation that one of the main characters is the child of another main character.
We’re talking about a movie franchise set in space, with almost no limits on technology barriers or budgets, where people literally move objects with their minds, and the best story Disney came up with was one already told in the '70s. But wait, they made a woman the main character? Great! But did anyone freak out because Terminator or Alien had lead women characters? Not a new concept.
Video games see the exact same abuse. There's a brand new Madden game every year, even though gameplay is identical to the one that came out the year before. All that ever changes is uniforms, team line-ups, and the occasional ability to let players play as mascots. All those changes could be made with a single download put out by the developers every couple of months. But, unfortunately for you, that wouldn’t make them very much money.
Other games, like Call of Duty and Halo, were made famous for their in-depth storylines and immersive online-multiplayer, but after 8 generations of bastardized sequels and multiple studio changes, the games lost everything that once made them great. Now the development companies are just remaking the games that were once a hit. Halo re-released their original four games in 2014 for the new Xbox, and Call of Duty is releasing a re-mastered version of its groundbreaking Modern Warfare this November.
But you can't blame production companies entirely, they just want to make money to feed their kids and send them to better colleges than everyone else (because everyone else spends all their money on movies and video games). It's easier for them to make money off of an idea that was successful before. It isn't rocket science. If people like something, a lot, the production companies will give them more of it until the once-great idea is now a hollow shell of what it once was. That's business.
It has a lot to do with international markets, too. Studios apparently have the statistics to back up the fact that other countries love American remakes, so if a movie flops here in the states, it can usually make up what it lost from elsewhere. We're basically stuck with what we've got because a bunch of Chinese kids are freaking out over the new Batman. Likewise, it has a lot to do with licensing issues — if a studio isn't actively remaking movies it owns the right to, they can sometimes forfeit those rights to other production companies, adds Pandya.
This isn't to say that people shouldn't still love superheroes, or Star Wars, or videogames. But the constant remaking of great ideas is diluting the hypothetical entertainment waters, and it's making us sit through crap just so companies can pull from nostalgia we feel from when the stuff was actually good.
But, hey, what're you gonna do, right?