To begin our in depth exploration into the commercial and critical viability of original and derivative work we are going to focus on adaptations initially. Both types of cinema can be hugely successful in their own rights, however our research shows that adaptations bring in more money, hype and popularity. It’s adaptations that producers tend to invest their money into as the platform already established provides more of a chance for a successful outcome through such things as money inflow, popularity and fandoms.

Adaptations can be defined as the transfer of a written work, in whole or in part, to a feature film. It is a type of derivative work. A common form of film adaptation is the use of a novel as the basis of a feature film. In addition to this, adaptations can also refer to sequels, and remakes, as we focus on these forms of adaptations in our research.

Whilst movies have always taken some level of inspiration from other forms of creative outlet, the recent trend seems to suggest that this reliance on others for the basic elements of a plot is increasing, especially in the area of prequels and sequels. It is said that, “adaptations come in all shapes and sizes, from films based on books and plays to remakes and sequels.” And they are often referred to as, “crude imitations and occasionally cited as enlightened reinventions” (Hancock 2010). Such adaptations have been found in the Australian market to be low and declining, with just 38 being released in 1999-2008. Hancock suggests this fall is significant because adaptations in markets like the US, tend to perform well, attracting a higher proportion of box office than their proportion in release. While original films do have a greater propensity for exceptional performance, they are also very volatile and so their ability to set the benchmark for success is offset by a high failure rate. By comparison, the box office earnings for adaptations are more consistent.

Throughout our research we came across a debate on the finding  two sides to the argument on whether films have lost all sense of originality. These statements from the poll provides an insight into how people feel about the issue:

“Sequels and adaptations are almost always guaranteed successes at the box office, which seems to be more prized by the studios and production companies than original plot lines and ideas. Originality and creativity is being sidelined for franchises, fandoms, and box office grosses – such is the way of the world.

“Opportunities for fantastic and original ideas are being stifled in exchange for dollar signs.”

The poll article then goes on to talk about how it has even reached the point now where the film industry is clutching at straws in order to make money: the new Amazing Spider-Man franchise began only five years after it predecessor had finished, including some of the exact same elements in the first movie as the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie had done just ten years previously. As Spider-man is one of the adaptations we have been researching, this argument seems quite valid.