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Are movies becoming more derivative?

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article examines the origins of movie scripts, analyzing data on nearly 60,000 movies to determine the proportion of original screenplays versus adaptations from other sources. It looks at how this has changed over time and the impact on box office performance.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Where do Movies Come From?

1. What are the main sources for movie scripts?

  • Over 50% of movies released since 2000 have been original screenplays.
  • The most common source for adapted screenplays is real-life events, accounting for almost 20% of movies made between 2000-2023.
  • Other sources include fictional books/articles (8.9%), previous movies (11.8%), stage productions (1.5%), and TV/web shows (0.9%).

2. How has the source of movie scripts changed over time?

  • The proportion of original screenplays has remained relatively stable over the past 40 years, despite a decline in the late 1990s/2000s followed by a rise in the 2010s.
  • Movies based on real-life events have steadily increased, from 1 in 20 in the 1980s to almost 1 in 4 in the 2020s.

[02] Box Office Impact

1. How do the box office numbers compare to the production numbers?

  • While 55.9% of movies made during 2000-2023 were original screenplays, they only account for 42.3% of the box office.
  • The box office share of original screenplays has declined from 73% in 1984 to just 30.6% in 2023, despite their production share remaining similar.
  • Movies based on real-life events have seen a boom in production but have not had the same level of financial impact.

2. What about movies based on written material?

  • The production of movies based on written material has decreased, but their box office market share has grown.
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