Last night Kish and I went to see Toy Story 3 in 3D at the Easton movie theatres. It was well done, I suppose, but I found myself thinking about how little true creativity we see in popular culture anymore. As nice as it was to see Woody and Buzz Lightyear in a new adventure, I would rather see the team that made Toy Story 3 devote their considerable talents to creating something totally new and different.
It seems like 75% of the movies showing at any given time are movie versions of TV shows or comic books, or sequels of prior successful movies, or remakes of old movies, or even remakes of sequels. Everybody seems to be searching for a “franchise” that they can ride for a few sequels until diminishing quality and declining audience interest have irreparably damaged the memory of the excellent original movie.
Contrast the current approach with the golden age of Hollywood, during the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. The most popular movie ever, Gone With The Wind, ended with a cliffhanger if there ever was one, but the studio resisted the temptation to crank out a sequel. There was no sequel to The Wizard Of Oz, High Noon, or Rear Window, or It’s A Wonderful Life. After Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a big hit, Walt Disney made Pinocchio, not Snow White 2: Grumpy’s Revenge.
I sometimes wonder whether the focus on sequels has caused writers, directors, actors, and animators who are at the peak of their abilities to take the path of least resistance, rather than breaking new ground and creating new characters, story lines, and techniques. What potential masterpieces have gone unmade as a result of the emphasis on producing sure-fire sequels?