A montage of celebrity forms such as Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson amongst Hollywood Stars.
Illustration by Deon Agyeman, Montserrat College of Art

Hollywood Might Be Running Out of Movie Ideas

The film industry has slowly embodied the concept of reduce, reuse and recycle with biopics about celebrities.

Film buffs who keep up with the latest upcoming movies know that several biopics are in the works about figures such as Audrey Hepburn, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. These biopics feature the lucky few celebrities that Hollywood takes an interest in for what seems like the millionth time. On top of recreating old storylines and adapting several books into TV series or films, it begs the question — is Hollywood close to running out of original ideas?

Amid about a dozen recent biopic releases, some of the biggest titles have ranged from “Bohemian Rhapsody” to “Elvis,” with the latter inciting many mixed opinions. One side of the spectrum wholeheartedly enjoyed the movie and received every single minute of it with open arms. Despite this, others felt that the topic of Elvis Presley’s legacy felt like an uninspired idea, reiterating the concept that biopics feel overused.

The ‘who’ in these biopics plays a big factor in whether a film will be a hit with audiences. The actor who portrays the figure and the accuracy and mastery of the role all depend on how receptive the audience is toward the film. Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis Presley in the “Elvis” biopic made for a controversial, yet eye-catching, choice in casting. Contention only grew when viewers criticized Butler for his commitment to method acting. There was a notable change in the timbre of his voice, which persisted even after he completed the film. Nevertheless, many viewers appreciated his performance and saw the drive and dedication that was put into the creation of the film and Butler’s acting abilities.

There is also Rami Malek’s role in “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which many felt was an accurate portrayal of the late singer Freddie Mercury. In fact, the role was Oscar-worthy. The faithful depictions in the film – especially in regard to Freddie’s Live Aid Performance — not only brought a lot of awareness toward the biopic but to the rock legend himself.

The upcoming Hepburn biopic will be filmed by director Luca Guadagnino, who is known for his work on “Call Me by Your Name” and other well-known films. But whether the biopic for the late actress will actually be good or not does not necessarily depend on who is creating the film. Even if Guadagnino executes the project well, many audiences are already unwilling to give yet another biopic a chance in the first place.

The biggest news behind the Michael Jackson biopic has to do with the actor who was chosen to portray him. The pop-king’s nephew, Jaafar Jackson will play the late singer and, as usual, there are already mixed reviews. When the news dropped, fans took to Twitter to express their opinions on the matter.

One of the biggest biopic controversies surrounds the upcoming film depicting the life of Amy Winehouse. The first photos from the casting of Winehouse’s film were recently released, and many die-hard fans had something to say. Via TikTok and Twitter, fans expressed their concerns and disagreement over the woman who will play the late singer. Not to mention the fact that director Sam Taylor Johnson has taken on this project. Many fans who commented their lack of support had some choice words regarding the casting of Winehouse, but more specifically were upset with Johnson as the director. The woman is well-known for her relationship with actor Aaron Taylor Johnson due to the pair’s odd age gap. Many who claim the actor was groomed by her earlier in his career asserted that this was the wrong director to appropriately represent Winehouse’s legacy.

Once a biopic has been produced and received by an audience, then comes award season. Many believe that biopic films do not merit Oscar or Golden Globe nominations since they often feel like a popularity contest rather than an opportunity to recognize the worthiness of a film. Since the figures who the films focus on are already famous, enough so to lead to a biopic, this can spur the false notion that their biopics are well received. This debate over whether these films are actually good or not can be lost in translation due to the celebrity status of the main character and their cult followings.

There are many arguments for whether or not biopics should continue to be made or if we should just scrap them altogether. For many, seeing one of their favorite public figures’ stories be told by a transformative actor can be exciting. For others, production details like which director will be putting the biopic together can make or break their decision on whether or not to watch it. Despite the difference in opinions, it looks like Hollywood will most likely continue to manufacture more and more biopics until every celebrity has one.

Once again, Hollywood has chosen to create more and more new biopics. For some viewers, this niche of film seems to work, and is enjoyable, though many feel that the concept of biopics is butchered beyond repair. Many who watch films avidly seek to connect with scenarios and characters, and are ultimately unable to do so within the genre of biopics. Despite what you may think about biopics or what you may read about them, it still leaves the question unanswered; is Hollywood just out of ideas?

Ally Najera, California State University, Northridge


Ally Najera

California State University, Northridge
Broadcast Journalism, Minor in Marketing

I am currently studying broadcast journalism and minoring in marketing. I read religiously and love watching films. I am very passionate about words. I live and breathe pop culture – and love to share my thoughts.

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