If you ask the average movie-goer what they don’t like about Hollywood movies, they are likely to mention the seemingly endless production of sequels, prequels and spin-offs.
Last week, a filmmaker asked me how common these were among independent movies. I didn’t know offhand, so I decided to find out.
I used my database of all feature films made in the past twenty years (1999-2018) and set about discovering which were derived from other films.
How often are independent films derived from a previous film?
Across all independent films produced in the past two decades, just under 7% were derived from a previous feature film in some way.
Action, Adventure and Fantasy films were the most likely to be following on from a previous film, whereas War, Drama and Westerns were the least.
How does this compare to Studio movies?
The figure for Studio movies is a lot higher – three times higher, in fact. Over the same period, 21% of Studio movies had their origins in a previous movie (i.e. one in five!)
As with independent productions, these were not evenly spread across genres. The pattern is similar with the biggest difference being found among Sci-Fi movies (39% of Studio movies compared to just 9% among independent movies).
How is this changing over time?
Many readers may be expecting the data to show that ‘movies from movies’ are increasing, however, that’s not the case for the independent scene. The percentage of independent films derived from a previous film has remained fairly static over the past 20 years, with a low of 5.4% (in 2000) and a high of 8.1% (in 2005).
But of course we see the predictable pattern if we compare independent movies to Studio movies.
If you are interested in reading more on this topic then you may enjoy these older articles:
- The prevalence of sequels, remakes and original movies
- The scale of Hollywood remakes and reboots
- How original are Hollywood movies?
- The fate of Stephen King movie sequels
- Which script adaptations make the best films?
- Are video game movies the worst type of adaptations?
- How many movies based on Shakespeare plays are there?
The data for today’s research came from IMDb, The Numbers / Opus Data, Wikipedia and other public sources. I defined “independent” as not being released by one of the five major Hollywood studios. This research is looking at feature films spawned from previous feature films, such as sequels, prequels and spin-offs. This does not include adaptations from other media such as TV shows.