Recycling to save the environment is a great thing, but Hollywood, you’ve got to stop recycling movie ideas. IMDB has a list of all the remake/reboot movies to come between 2016-2020, and it’s sad. The Huffington Post article “Everything Is a Sequel Now, And It’s Your Fault, America” by Lauren Duca gives some insight into this problem. She explains how America determines a lot of the popular culture for the rest of the world, and as we consume sequel culture and make money from it, we then want to produce more. This makes it almost impossible for original movies from smaller producers to break through.
In 1997 the American Film Institute named Citizen Kane the greatest film of all time for its innovative camera angles, film noir-esque lighting, nonlinear storytelling, and long directorial shots. But now we hardly see these qualities in movies found in theaters. When you walk into a theater and look at the list of screenings you’ll usually find at least one sequel, one prequel, one remake, and probably a few movies based on books. There is no originality in the movie making business anymore. McDonalds and the film industry have a lot more in common than you’d think, they are both products of formal rationality.
(Photo Courtesy of theodysseyonline.com)
Formal rationality is finding the optimum means to an end. McDonaldization is a product of formal rationality. McDonaldization, defined by George Ritzer in “The McDonaldization of Society,” is finding that optimum means to an end through efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control. Creating movies based on already made movies and books helps to film industry meet these goals.
Efficiency is the optimum means to an end, it makes the process easier by reducing variation, choice, and chance of accident. Recreating movies is efficient because they already have the basis for the film, and they don’t have to create a new script. It also gives them a guide to how the movie should be and they can just recreate it with modern effects. Predictability is the attempt at sameness. Predictability in the movie industry is seen as, if something isn’t broken don’t fix it. When a movie does well and is already liked, they know when they remake it or turn a book into a movie, it will receive good reviews too. Calculability is using quantity and an indicator of quality. Film executives will use numbers and reviews as a way to decide to make a movie. If a movie has already received well before and made a lot of money, they will try to do it again. Control is having control over the process in all aspects. There is no room for error if they are already making something that has already been made.
Overall, the movie world of prequels, sequels, and movies based off books is because producers don’t want to take risks on new original movies because they don’t know if it will make money. They believe the audience will be more comfortable seeing a movie with a plot and characters they already know, than seeing something new.