More often than not, it seems like when Hollywood announces their next big blockbuster, it’s either rehash of a franchise that has long since run out of steam, or a reboot of a series that isn’t really called for, or a remake of a movie that nobody really liked the first time around, because chances are if you do it a second time, it’ll go over better…
For an industry that depends so heavily on storytelling, that’s a whole lot of “re.”
So where’s all the “neo” in this business? And I’m not talking about the Matrix…there should be no “re” where that series is concerned. I’m talking about the talent trust of the indie publishing world that isn’t being tapped in quite the manner it should be. We as authors and readers and lovers of story know the rich pool of story out there, from all publishing sources—indie, hybrid and traditional. Yet it seems to be some earth-shattering development when we hear that a book we love that hasn’t already been beaten into the ground a million times will be turned into brand-spankin’ new film. No naivete here: the Bottom Line is in the driver’s seat. If a book is a best-seller, it’s a no-brainer for the business heads in cinema that Lovers of Book will largely translate into Viewers of Film. And thank Universal that this potential exists, especially from the authorly side of things. Any opportunity we have to broaden our audience furthers our dream and validates our suspicions that the stories we concoct truly are worth diving into.
But there are tons of non-best-sellers that would make fantastic films as well.
And they can probably be had for a fraction of the cost of anything in the New York Times’ Top Ten.
Even with all of this available for consideration, we have this ever-present “re” situation. I read recently that there’s a new Amityville movie coming this fall. Amityville. Amity. Freaking. Ville. Has anyone really clung so desperately to the original thrill of that barn-shaped haunted house that they need another (read: the same ol’ ) story told about it again, with today’s hottest stars freaking out over Jody the red-eyed pig in the window instead of Margot Kidder and James Brolin? Haunted house stories are wonderful, but they’ve been done better than this franchise…and more contemporarily. And this, sadly, is representative of every rehash-reboot-remake situation. Meanwhile, a thousand-thousand new and well-told tales that don’t rely on a name established nearly forty years prior are just waiting for their turn to be acted out and screen-projected.
Sorry, Amityville, but you can’t possibly be the pinnacle of storytelling potential in today’s filmmaking market.
I’m not overlooking brand-name familiarity, here. I realize the marketing potential in such a phenomenon. But I also recognize the risk involved in spending millions upon millions of production and promotional dollars to recreate old material hoping that familiarity will breed commerce. And we’ve seen it fail miserably. Either the recreation can’t hold a candle to the original, or it’s just so badly done that the money would have been better spent making something new.
Let’s bottom-line the Bottom Line here: sometimes there is so much money lost in the risk of remaking a property that sucks on toast and flops like a flounder that the wiser choice would have been to make three or four smaller, lower-risk films out of well-told stories using a batch of indie publishing and cinematic talent as well, thereby feeding the indie sides of both industries AND maximizing the profit margin. FOR EVERYONE. There’s a ton of material just ripe for the picking, if you’re looking in the right place for the right reasons. And the books will sell the movies as much as the movie will sell the books.
There’s a possibility for hybridization here that can benefit and vitalize both industries. Someone needs to start the trend. The facts that filmmakers have to become aware of are these: small is the new ginormous, and indie is the new reboot-less reboot.
Let’s call it “newbooting.”
Hey, Hollywood: Get all up in this 21st century scenario and make your audience some new magic. Maximize your margins, honor your audiences, and help the indies out a little while you’re at it.
We’re ready for you.