In 2011, saying that Hollywood releases too many sequels, remakes and reboots is so common place, it’s gone beyond cliche into a whole new category that doesn’t yet exist. Still, the sentiment remains an irrefutable fact. Of the top ten highest grossing films of the year so far, only one isn’t based on a previous property and that’s Bridesmaids, which – one could argue – is a spin-off, at least in tone, to several other movies.
This trend of remaking and repackaging the same material over and over isn’t anything new but putting a start date on it is difficult. One site might have a good place to start though: the 1970s, arguably the greatest decade in cinema history. In 1976, that’s 35 years ago, a year before George Lucas released Star Wars and only one year after Steven Spielberg created the “summer blockbuster” with Jaws, legendary film critic Gene Siskel felt the same way we all do now. Hollywood was making too many sequels and remakes. Really? In 1976? Watch the clip and get a little background after the break.
Here’s the short clip thanks to Screened.
Once we all get that mustache out of our minds, we can get to the task at hand: figuring out why Siskel felt this way 35 years ago. Looking at the list of the highest grossing films of that year and it already becomes pretty obvious. The #2 film of the year, A Star is Born, was a remake as was the #5 film, King Kong (seen above). The #7 film, The Enforcer, was a Dirty Harry sequel and the #3 film, All the President’s Men, was based on a book. Marathon Man and Logan’s Run were based on books too not to mention Siskel’s claim of too much violence which is likely referring to films like The Omen, Carrie and Taxi Driver.
On the flip side of Siskel’s argument, 1976’s #1 grossing film, and its best picture winner was an original film called Rocky. Plus masterworks like Network, Taxi Driver, Eraserhead and The Bad News Bears were all released that year.
Compared to previous years, yes, it does seem like 1976 could be the beginning of a trend. Plus it only got worse. Of the films I mentioned in the above two paragraphs alone, several spawned multiple sequels such as Bad News Bears, Rocky and The Omen.
Do you think this was the beginning of the era of the sequel/remake or was Siskel just fed up? If not 1976, when do you see the modern era of the sequel/remake beginning?