When I see a trailer for a new movie that looks similar to an older film, the first thing that comes to mind is, "People will whine about this for months." Of course, most other people think: "Ripoff!"
Lack of originality is frequently shows up in new movies. Common sense says that this is because nearly everything one can imagine in a movie has been done already, and even the best screenwriters run out of fresh ideas at some point. Unfortunately, some people take the time to make this a huge issue, proving that common sense is not so common, after all.
I speak for everyone who has to sit through the drama when I say, "Who the hell cares? Shut up!"
What the whiners fail to realize is, if Hollywood made it a rule to just stop making movies that share common plots and themes with older ones, the industry would have crashed decades ago, before most classic movies would even be made. The Godfather wouldn't exist because of the many mafia movies that came before it. Only a handful of "zombie apocalypse" movies would exist because they are basically the same thing. And, of course, there would be no trends where one movie would rapidly spawn others with similar plot lines.
An interesting thing to note is that some people who complain about today's trends (superheroes, vampires, etc.) act like this is new and claim that it as a sign that Hollywood is running out of ideas.
In the 1950s and 1960s, there was a wave of movies about aliens and giant bugs. And then there's the surge of one-man army movies from the 1980s. What about the "nice person from Hell" movies (Far From Home, Single White Female, etc.) from the late 80s and early 90s? Obviously, trendsetting is far from new. And even then, movies that avoided the cliches were being released, meaning that Hollywood still had ideas.
"Hollywood today is all about the money," people say. "They'll just put anything out for a quick buck."
Now, are those assumptions dumb, or what? Are they meant to imply that Hollywood is just starting to paid, while older movies were made for free? Do you think Alfred Hitchcock, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver are/were on the street, begging for money, while new people like Zac Efron, Malin Akerman, and (insert 2010 director) are the only rich stars?
Films are expensive to make. "Putting anything together" requires upwards of millions of dollars. If that movie flops, then most of those "quick bucks" will go right down the drain and its cast could get blackballed from the industry, or the studio can go bankrupt. With risks like those, how does intentionally making a bad mainstream movie make any sense?
Remember back in the 1990s, when Disney rolled out animated theatrical movies such as Aladdin and The Hunchback of Notre Dame? And released home videos of films they released decades earlier, such as Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland? Remember those classics that some of you enjoyed with your family, and now wish you could do the same with your kids because you apparently don't know what a DVD or a video-sharing website is?
Well, I love being the bearer of bad news to people of my generation who take a little too much pride in being a kid in the decade of such "original masterpieces," but those plots were created long before they became part of the Disney Masterpiece Collection. Not only that, but many of them didn't have the standard happy-go-lucky endings that Disney familiarized most people with.
In Hans Christian Andersan's version of "The Little Mermaid," Ariel was supposed to be in pain when she got her legs, which were given to her in exchange for allowing Ursula to cut her tongue off. The only way she could have a real soul is if she marries Eric, and if he marries someone else, she'll die. The prince eventually falls for and marries a princess. Ariel's sisters later give her a knife to stab Eric with so that she could step into his blood and return to mermaid form. She gets cold feet and so jumps into the sea, dies, and becomes an angel. Oh, and there were no singing crabs and flounders in sight.
In the original "Sleepy Beauty" story, "Sun, Moon, and Talia," the prince did a bit more than just kiss the girl. Instead of in a castle, a hunter -- not prince -- found her in a forest and raped her. She got pregnant with twins, who woke her by sucking out the splinter that put her to sleep. The hunter's wife found out and ordered that the children be kidnapped, cooked, and served to the unknowing hunter. The cook didn't do what he was told, and the hunter left with his victim and their kids.
And I'm not even going to count the differences between Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and nearly everyone else's versions.
My point is, Disney just picked up some old stories, coated them with sugar -- many of them were not kid-friendly by most people's standards -- fed them to us, and we lived happily ever after off movies that were ridiculously different from their sources. Funny thing is, if this were done today, most of the fans of "old Disney" who won't shut up about its current state would automatically hate the same movies they call classics. But it happened back in their (or rather, their parents' and grandparents') day, so it's automatically excusable to them.
Sometimes people reach a little too far when justifying why new films are ripoffs. They'll find the slightest things a new movie, like Takers, and an older movie, such as Heat, have in common (bank robbers, hostages, shootouts, oh my! This is such a Heat copycat!) and call the new one a ripoff.
How many times have you heard someone say, "Hey, they're shooting at each other in slow motion, like in The Matrix!"?
The first movie to use bullet time is actually Kill and Kill Again, released in 1981. John Woo made some foreign movies involving slow motion shootouts, such as the 1992 movie, Hard Boiled. Heck, a year before the first Matrix, a vampire dodged some bullets in slow motion in a scene from Blade. By the logic of people who even care to label movies as such, that makes The Matrix the copycat.
Some people take one look at "unofficial remakes" like The Roommate and immediately conclude that they'll hate it just because it has a similar plot to another movie -- Single White Female, in this case, which was ironically based on a novel. What is it with that one line, "If I want to see (insert older movie), I'd watch the real one"?
So... what's stopping you? Invite your friends over for a night of original movies and whining about the differences between them and their remakes and alleged remakes. Hollywood doesn't give a damn about what you won't see. The studios will still be entertaining people and getting paid to do so. That's what they set out to do when they greenlighted the films you hate. Meanwhile, you're crying about movies and gaining nothing to show for it.
No matter how original something seems, it will always have traits of something that was made before. It's impossible to take a movie and not find something in it that hasn't been made before, not just in film, but on TV shows and books. If I'm wrong, prove you're right by writing your own script.