This research report analyses the question, are audiences more receptive of ‘original’ concept films or adaptations and sequels? with a main focus on the US film market. As we began looking into the concept of originality at the start of the semester, we attempted to decipher the ways in which it shines through in cinema today. It became quite clear from the beginning that originality is quite a subjective term, so for the purpose of this research report we define it in the context of filmmaking. Originality is a fresh outlook or approach to story and structure of film that incorporates the way filmmakers think independently and creatively, using new ways and ideas to convey story and feeling to audiences everywhere. The idea of originality as a whole amongst creative content became a broad and varied area to tackle, so during our initial research phase we decided to delve into a more specific area of audiences and their relationship with remakes and sequels opposed to fresh ‘new’ ideas. We definitely use the word ‘originality’ quite loosely (and a lot) in this report as we all agree that it is difficult to adequately define any film as completely original or completely unoriginal. It seems unfair to label films as completely either of these when we cannot completely justify it. As we researched more into audiences and their relationships with film, their thoughts, ideas and feelings of cinema in relation to adaptations and sequels, we hoped it would become clear that labeling films as simply original or unoriginal is too difficult to rationalise in the time and space we have to undergo this task. Instead of solely focusing on whether content and ideas are original or not, our investigations were also focused on what the people who invest money and time into watching such films prefer.  It is through the analysis of films that we can further extrapolate an audience’s understanding of originality and their reception of films. Our analysis lead us to look at superhero films to see how comic books can create a film series, the fan culture that has formed around vampire films and the potential to franchise young adult film through The Hunger Games, contrasting this against Christopher Nolan’s celebrated directorial status and Whiplash‘s formation to film.

Timothy Ryan theories the word originality in his work ‘The Art Of Originality’ to encompass a meaning relevant to our research which can be seen in the quote below.

“Originality is synonymous with other terms such as innovation, novelty, ingenuity, and encompasses a new idea or approach that departs from the traditional or previously established forms. Based upon the universally accepted definition of originality it would appear that perhaps it is an idea that cannot be achieved or fully realized by human beings given the fact that since birth we are all influenced in one way or another to various degrees in our thoughts and actions by our external environment and causes that precede every individual’s actions.”

This statement really lends itself to our own thoughts on the difficulty of naming anything as being wholeheartedly original, whilst highlighting that originality engulfs innovation, new ideas and approaches, which are all incorporated throughout the film industry today.

If you were to look at the top grossing films of this century, how many do you think would contain completely original storylines, i.e. no prequels, sequels, remakes? It was found that from 2000-2009, 37 of the highest grossing fifty films were NOT ‘original’ and in every year since then at least seven of the top ten films have fallen into the same sad category. Hollywood produces so many successful box office hits, something we remember learning in the first year of our degree, and with there only being a certain small amount of stories in the world every creative film branches off from one of these main stories. A lot of the time, cinema highlights different ways in which to tell the same story and it is this that enables us to discuss and research where and how originality shines through, what films are more successful at the box office, and what types of films audiences seem to lean more towards.

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