SUMMERTIME AT THE MOVIES: (ALMOST) EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN







FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

It’s summertime at the movies. Otherwise known as the deja vu season.

Yet new ideas occasionally pop up even in Hollywood – the place that thrives on sequels, remakes, spinoffs and adaptations based on best selling novels, TV shows, comic books or toys.

Among this summer’s handful of original stories are ANGELINA JOLIE’S SALT and LEONARDO DiCAPRIO’S INCEPTION from director CHRISTOPHER NOLAN.

With old standbys such as Sex & The City 2 and Robin Hood falling short of box office expectations, fresh concepts play a bigger role in determining the success of Hollywood’s hot season.

INCEPTION in particular has the industry and fans captivated, coming from a filmmaker with a track record for blockbuster entertainment that’s also bold and smart.

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a man using technology to sneak into people’s dreams and steal their ideas, INCEPTION arrives in theatres JULY 17 with the best buzz for an original story since JAMES CAMERON’S AVATAR last December.

At $2.7 billion worldwide, AVATAR leads the box office charts, hurtling past HARRY POTTER and other franchise adaptations.

“I would like to say we were very encouraged by the success of Avatar,” CHRISTOPHER NOLAN said with a big laugh.

For many fans, AVATAR was as groundbreaking a movie experience as one of the prime cinema adventures of Mr. Nolan’s boyhood, STAR WARS.

“That was an entire world that didn’t exist anywhere else before. It only existed in that movie, your brain lived in it for a couple of hours and it stuck with you.”

“Ever since I saw that film, whether I knew it or not, my ambition has been to give the audience that kind of experience: to create a world that they hadn’t expected before and hadn’t seen before and let them lose themselves in it. There’s a huge advantage of jumping into something original that can be anything.”

So why does Hollywood keep coming back to the same old things?

Simple. It pays better.

Most of the movies that draw colossal audiences are based on something that existed before. Familiarity sometimes can breed contempt as audiences tire of characters, but it’s generally easier to get fans to buy tickets for the latest in a continuing saga.

Studios are not likely to change their ways unless they sense that audiences would rather see new things over the tried and true.

“It really is up to the audience and critics. A lot of people jump on Hollywood for that. But the truth is: if they’ll come, we’ll make them,” said producer LORENZO DI BONAVENTURA, whose credits include ANGELINA JOLIE’S upcoming spy thriller SALT.

Star power can certainly help. SALT, opening JULY 23, casts ANGELINA JOLIE as an American agent on the run after she’s accused of being a Russian mole.

But the box office numbers continue to support the tried and true. The year’s biggest opening weekends so far belong to sequels and adaptations — such as ALICE IN WONDERLAND and TOY STORY 3, a rare sequel from Pixar Animation, the one outfit that consistently turns original concepts into blockbuster business.

Even when audiences seem sick of a franchise, they can turn up in huge numbers.

While sequels have been around since the early years of film, the franchise has become Hollywood’s core business today, beginning with such boldly original hits as STAR WARS, ALIEN and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK in the 1970s and 80s.

But money talks – especially in Tinseltown. It would seem that extensively used Hollywood formulas show no signs of going away any time soon.

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