(By the way, we're only in November, so we still have one whole month left of the year for the studios to squeeze more in, like Silver Linings Playbook and Jack Reacher, for example.)
With the recently insane success of The Hunger Games (which made $152.5 million opening weekend), and the inevitable demand for Fifty Shades of Grey (the film rights for which Universal Pictures and Focus Features purchased March 26, 2012), what's not to like about adaptations, right?
Audiences will drop upwards of fifteen bucks to see something they've already paid the same cost to read, right? No problem.
There are plenty of box office figures to back up that assumption, but did Hollywood ever factor in the possibility of filmgoers growing tired of adaptations?
From the looks of things, they didn't and never will, and there's a simple (albeit sad) reason why.
The big studios are afraid of box office bombs.
And rightly so, since they drop millions of dollars to produce movies for us to watch; as such, they expect a payoff. For all intents and purposes, they're investing in a "startup" and expect a solid ROI, so they're highly displeased (and set back) when they don't get it -- and wax gun-shy.
They weigh their entire investment on that opening weekend. They'd prefer to profit, but if they don't at least recoup their costs that first weekend, then that project is essentially a failure.
Therefore, they look outside their realm for already successful franchises or books and adapt them, hoping to ride the fandom wave and reap big. For them, that approach is less risky because they can produce something the audience is already attached to.
But isn't that still a big risk for the Hollywood studios to take?
Sure, according to Box Office Mojo and IMDb, 2012 saw a good share of box office successes:
- The Help ($25 million budget, $26 million opening weekend)
- The Hunger Games ($78 million budget, $152.5 million opening weekend)
- The Lorax ($70 million budget, $70.2 million opening weekend)
- The Avengers ($220 million budget, $207.4 million opening weekend, profited by 2nd weekend)
- Dark Knight Rises ($250 million budget, $160.8 million opening weekend, profited by 2nd weekend)
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 ($120 million budget, $141 million opening weekend)
However, not all adaptations have the bounce Hollywood expected. In fact, the studios have eaten more loss in 2012 than success:
- Mirror Mirror ($85 million budget, $18.1 million opening weekend)(never recouped)
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days ($22 million budget, $14.6 million opening weekend)
- John Carter ($250 million budget, $30.1 million opening weekend)
- Total Recall ($125 million budget, $25.5 million opening weekend)
- The Bourne Legacy ($125 million budget, $38 million opening weekend)
- Battleship ($209 million budget, $25.5 million opening weekend)
- One for the Money ($40 million budget, $11.5 million opening weekend)
- The Raven ($26 million budget, $7.3 million opening weekend)(never recouped)
- Savages ($45 million budget, $16 million opening weekend)
- The Amazing Spider-Man ($230 million budget, $62 million opening weekend, finally earned double by the end of opening month)
- Snow White and the Huntsman ($170 million budget, $52 million opening weekend, finally profited by the end of opening month)
- Silver Linings Playbook (limited release, $20 million budget, approx. $443,000 opening weekend, and still in theaters)
Not very promising.
So with that in mind, why not take a risk on an original story?
It's not like the studios are starved of them. They purchase screenplays from hungry writers in option deals all the time. Why not dust those scripts off the shelves they're sitting on and produce them? The studios would never have wasted their time buying the scripts if they weren't worth making (or so we would hope -- they don't have that kind of money to waste).
Filmgoers across the country see the now obvious and very desperate trend, and all have the same complaint: get original, Hollywood!
Don't make us pay another $10-$15 for something we've already paid to read or play. Give us something fresh and new. We know you have material. Stop cowering at the thought that we might not watch it. Try us. We're not as mean as you think we are. Seriously.
If you bring us something new -- not a sequel, not a remake, not an adaptation, but new -- we'll come see it on that merit alone. Try us, and stop being so scared. The money will come.
What do you think about this trend? Do you still bother to go to the movies despite the studios’ laziness? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.
Flickr photo bdearth.