Scanning the list of 2011′s top-grossing films, original ideas are in short supply. Very short supply.
The year’s top seven highest-grossing films — with the final “Harry Potter” movie at the top — are all franchise entries, and the next four are based on previously known properties (books, comic books, etc.). You have to go all the way down to No. 12 to find a film — “Bridesmaids” — based on an original idea, and there are only two other films in the Top 20 (“Rio” at No. 17 and “Super 8″ at No. 20) that aren’t based on already-established entities.
Hollywood has been running low on new ideas for years, but it’s never been this bad. In 2010, three movies in the Top 10 and seven in the Top 20 were technically “new” ideas; in 2009, four movies in the Top 10 and nine in the Top 20 were originals. Going back 10 years, six of the Top 20 movies — including two of the top 5 — were based on fresh ideas.
What does it all mean? Until things start to turn around, get ready for more sequels, franchise entries and comic book movies at a theater near you. And for this, audiences have no one to blame but themselves. Believe me, they wouldn’t keep making “Transformers” movies if people didn’t flock to them.
Top 20 Box Office Hits of 2011 (originals in CAPS)
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (eighth entry in a franchise based on a series of books): $381 million
2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (third entry in a franchise based on a cartoon based on a toy line): $352.4 million
3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (fourth entry in a franchise based on a series of books): $276.4 million
4. The Hangover Part II (sequel): $254.5 million
5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (fourth entry in a franchise based on a theme park ride): $241.1 million
6. Fast Five (fifth entry in a franchise): $209.8 million
7. Cars 2 (sequel): $191.5 million
8. Thor (franchise starter based on a comic book character): $181 million
9.Rise of the Planet of the Apes (franchise reboot): $176.7 million
10. Captain America: The First Avenger (franchise starter based on a comic book character): $176.7 million
11. The Help (based on a book): $169.5 million
12. BRIDESMAIDS: $169.1 million
13. Kung Fu Panda 2 (sequel): $165.2 million
14. X-Men: First Class (prequel to a franchise based on a series of comic books): $146.4 million
15. Puss in Boots (franchise spinoff): $145.8 million
16. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (fourth entry in a franchise based on a television series): $144.6 million
17. RIO: $143.6 million
18. The Smurfs (franchise starter based on a cartoon series): $142.6 million
19. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (second entry in a franchise based on a literary character): $139.4 million
20. SUPER 8: $127 million