Harry Potter and the Unoriginal Previews

Kelly and I had a chance to see the latest Harry Potter installment recently. It is the first time I’d been to the movies in many months. I enjoyed the movie despite its cliffhanger ending and having to wait a while to find out what happens. (I only read the first book and I’ve managed to avoid most spoilers somehow.) It was nice getting out to the movies, just the two of us, and I think we both enjoyed the film.

But something disturbed me before the movie even started: the previews.

I can’t remember how many previews we saw, but as for the ones I do remember: Green Hornet, Green Lantern, Yogi Bear, Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Little Red Ridinghood. I’m fairly certain there was one other and it had the same thing in common as the first five previews.  Have you figured out what it is yet?

They were all previews for movies that are based on something originally in print form: comic books, novels, stories.  It made me wonder: is there any original storytelling ability left in Hollywood? Or are they now completely and utterly dependent on us writers for material? I suppose as a writer one might see that as a good thing, but I the movies made from previous material are rarely as good as the original material and just about everyone knows it. But I imagine that they are generally cheaper than coming up with an original idea, and cost-effective since there is already an audience base for the original work.

Seems pretty lazy to me, and I’m not sure what disappoints me more: the sheer laziness of Hollywood, or the sheer laziness of audiences who would rather see the original twisted out of form on the big screen than read it in its original from the library.  (I count myself in the latter group; as I said at the outset, I only read the first Harry Potter book, but I’ve seen all of the movies.)


  1. Black Swan, Source Code, Season of the Witch – there’s a lot of stuff coming out that’s original material. I think a part of the problem is that much genre film tends towards large budgets and the common wisdom is that big budget films mostly need to be based on established material so they have a built-in audience (unless your name is Cameron or something like that), so original scripts for big-budget, fx-driven films are much less likely to be greenlit. Historical data tends to back up this belief. Another factor is that the little films that are more original are less likely to get trailer releases with blockbuster candidates like the Harry Potter franchise.

    1. I’m sure there is original stuff out there, and granted, with a little one, I don’t get to the movies much anymore. But this was the first time that I can remember that all half-dozen previews before the film were based on previously published material. Not a single one was original. (And even if your name is Cameron, it doesn’t make it original. Remember, he was successfully sued by Harlan Ellison for essentially stealing Ellison’s story “Soldier” and making it into a film called Terminator.)


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