Methods and Techniques

In order to deduce an answer to our question we are taking a holistic approach to explore the various discourses surrounded in the public perception of a film. Yet before we arrive at this stage, we have better prepared ourselves through researching peer reviewed articles in order to obtain a better understanding of the definitions of originality and adaptations. The works we have looked at and our understanding of them will be addressed further into the report. Furthermore, in order to break up this task we will each by talking about one particular film or franchise in order to conduct case studies as to how they performed and the degree of their originality, which we will then compare and contrast to deliver a conclusion to our research.  

Our research and findings mainly revolve between an axis of measuring critical and financial success. Therefore our main methods and techniques which will be employed will be to aggregate an average professional consensus of the film with box office results. This involves reviewing a well rounded sample of critical responses to each film we are closely dissecting in each case study in order to gage the general attitude towards these films amongst professional critics. Similarly we are holding the accolades in which a film receives in order to gage its cinematic excellence, especially the Academy Awards due to its large presence and revered nature in the award show circuit.

Another method we are using to judge the degree of public interest in which these films generate is by looking at box office results. We have deemed it necessary to look to what we define as box office success, as we have found that simply comparing how much money each film obtained to be extremely inaccurate and incomplete. Limitations that do apply to box office tracking include the exclusion of additional sources of revenue, such as home entertainment sales and rentals, television rights and product placement fees (Box Office Mojo 2015; para. 2). The distinction between a wide and limited release is also in need of clarification in order for our discussion to hold accuracy, as we have found that for a film to be considered a limited release it must feature on 600 or less screens. Another thing commonly compared in relation to a film’s gross is the production costs, however a limitation to this is that it does not include the amount contributed to promotion and marketing. This is a prevalent focus in our studies as higher budget sequels and franchises obviously receive more heightened promotion as opposed to an independent film.

Public forums and databases like IMDb will prove to be essential in order to gain an understanding of general audience’s reviews and critiques of a film. An integral part of our study will also be looking at fan cultures and how they impact the success rates of adapted films. Finally we hope to use interviews and responses from people within the industry, be it directors or writers of the films we are looking extensively at, in order to weigh in their opinion of the originality of the content they are producing and whether this is on the forefront of industry professional’s minds.

It is worth clarifying once again that we will be limiting our research to American produced films, as well as mainly looking at the US market in terms of figures. While we know this presents issue to the ability to utilise our answer in order to forecast trends within an Australian market and therefore workplace, we feel that it is just too difficult to include findings from Australia due to our inability to create adaptations as we rarely possess the ability to obtain rights to material. While in recent times Australia has produced highly financially lucrative films that are adaptations, like George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015, Australia) and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann, 2013, Australia), these films still remain as unique exceptions in the Australian filmic landscape. It is notable to consider that Australian’s are on a whole very receptive of US content as we veraciously engage with American film and television on a wider bases than our own output of content. As our analysis scopes audiences and their reception to original films versus adaptations, it was quite easy to overlook the Australian market when Australian filmmakers generally create more original concepts than remakes or adaptations. This will be explored and discussed further a little later on in our report.



The challenges in providing an adequate response to our research question of originality centres around the overall idea of ‘originality’ itself. In most places, originality is defined as being, “the quality of newness that exists in something not done before or not derived from something else” (Ryan 2015; p. 1). However when interpreting this meaning to fit the originality of films, the definition is quite subjective. Opinions on what an original film is will differ from person to person. Throughout this research report we do not degrade the creativity put behind any films as every film requires a large number of creators to produce it regardless if it is a sequel, remake or adaptation. New films will always include a collection of ideas from different people and target new audiences in turn influencing what makes it’s way to film content. This leads us to the second challenge, as we do not aim to blatantly label each movie as ‘original’ and ‘unoriginal’. The term has been used loosely and has been defined in terms of film by our collective group for the purpose of this report.



In order to fully fathom the notion of originality and incorporate the challenges mentioned into the understanding, we decided to structure our research to firstly define the concept of originality as a whole and then focus on particular successful films to articulate the ways in which originality shines through in cinema today. To provide a point of contention to originality we draw upon the concept of adaptation, which we contend is the opposite of original cinema. With focus on the US film market, our choice of case studies presents a series of films that reflect different success within the industry, with some demonstrating the franchise marketability of films and fan culture, and others receiving critical acclaim. We use the trend of superheroes, vampires and adult fiction based films with a focus on Spider-Man, Twilight and The Hunger Games to analyse the success of adaptation, and the films Whiplash and Interstellar to further analyse audience reception to original film. As the concept of originality is subjective, we consider the differentiation of films as either original or adaptation a main sub-question of our research and focus on audiences and their relationship with remakes and sequels over new ideas. By comparing the success of particular films through reception, box office stats, reviews, critical acclaim and fan culture, we develop an understanding of audience reception to finally decide whether original or adapted films have more success and more importantly if there’s room for both in the US market. Through structuring the piece to include the variety of research methods mentioned above, we shed light on the subjective view of originality within the US film market before noting the relevance to the Australian film market and the current state of originality. To present our final conclusion the construction of this website will provide an easily navigational approach to our findings, allowing users to click through the conceptual frameworks and case studies as desired. There’s also the capability for users to interact with the content, through the inclusion star rating functions on the film pages to allow them to rate the films, consequently facilitating readers to express their view on the work. After reading through the website, readers are encouraged to click on the poll accessible through the ‘What do you think?’ link at the top of the page to provide insight into their viewing habits and prompt ongoing research into the discussion.

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