I clicked through and enjoyed the Onion's review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a sequel to a prequel/reboot of a franchise that first wound to a close forty ****ing years ago. Good lord. There's a reasonable explanation for this rut, and it's pretty disheartening, from a creative standpoint. Then I remembered Pixar.
I was prepared to sound off on why we don't see original stories anymore, and when we do, they don't do well at the box office. (Edge of Tomorrow has only recouped half its budget, domestically. Regardless of the business it's doing overseas, that's not good.) Original stories are a hard sell, these days. Most that are live action fall under the umbrella of scifi. If it's not based on a bestselling book, TV show, a popular character in the public domain, or any other wellspring of ready-to-sip nostalgia, its chances aren't good.
And then there's Pixar, which partnered with Disney (a studio with decades' worth of public good will) and released Toy Story; movie that was 100% original. Then they released A Bug's Life. Then Monster's, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles... They released ten pictures in fourteen years, only one of which was a sequel— and a damned good one, at that.
How did this happen? Well, a few reasons— for one, Pixar has assembled a team of some of the most talented storytellers, directors, composers, illustrators, graphic designers, and actors in the business. More to the point, they were partnered with Disney. I can't imagine how Toy Story would have fared at the box office without the marketing machine that is Disney, behind it.
By now, of course, it's a different story. Pixar's done such good business in the past nineteen years it doesn't need the Mouse's endorsement anymore, but they still both profit from the ongoing partnership. Which is great.
Outside that union, amidst the ever-growing glut of remakes, prequels, sequels, reboots, re-imaginings, and so on... where can we go for more original films?
Sure, there are independent films, (and a lot of them are damned good), but unless you live in a major city or can afford a flight to Cannes, your odds of seeing those pictures in their limited releases is, well, limited.
Is it possible to bottle lightning twice? Could Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Paramount, MGM, New Line, or Universal Studios build a similar partnership with a promising young studio? Can't we deliberately make and market something to audiences that are sick and tired of rehashing tired, unoriginal concepts?
Hell— put aside even a fraction of the budgets going to the rampant franchising. "We know you're going to go see Transformers 5, Spider-Man 6, and Star Wars 7. Here's something else you haven't tasted yet. See how you like it." It's not like the tickets to go see something original like Her, Looper, or Edge of Tomorrow cost any less than the tickets to the more recognizable films.
Isn't that what Disney loaned Pixar, in the first place? A recognizable, bankable studio name?
I don't know. I'm putting the idea out there. I would dearly love to see more original pictures get national distribution alongside the big boys.
What do you think?