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2011 Film Slate: New Year, Old News

Of the 90 films listed hitting theaters this year, 29 are original concepts -- that's not a big change from lazy 2010

2011 is here and with it time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the new one. If there’s a group celebrating the new year it has to be the Hollywood studios. 2010 wasn’t an awful year for movies but it wasn’t a good one, either. Too much rehash of the tried and true and not enough originality made it a bumpy year for the entertainment industry.

After years of tripe and treacle in theaters we finally saw audiences pushing back. One by one, costly paint-by-numbers flicks delivered disappointing box office or flat-out flopped. Although ticket sales topped $10 billion in North America last year, that was due to higher ticket prices. The harsh reality was that attendance actually dropped 4 percent, according to Hollywood.com.

Price increases can’t keep the industry afloat forever. To gets butts in seats the studios need to deliver more original concepts along the lines of Inception, Black Swan and The Social Network.

Cinematic gold can be found if you look for it. Like digital alchemists, the best filmmakers working in Hollywood can still deliver the goods. What was missing was a peerless gem – a film of unsurpassed substance and quality. In no particular order, my 10 Best Films of 2010 were:

Ghost Writer
The Social Network
Winter’s Bone
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King’s Speech
Nowhere Boy
Toy Story 3
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Some good films to be sure, but nothing truly great. As I turn my eyes to 2011 I hope this year will be better.

Looking at the list of upcoming films suggests Hollywood has learned its lesson. The breakdown: Of the 90 films listed hitting theaters this year, 29 are original concepts, 28 are adaptations of previous material or based on true events and 33 are either remakes or sequels. That’s not a big change from the 2010.

So what is there to look forward to? If you’re a fanboy, it’s a great year for comic books, with "Green Lantern," "Thor" and "Captain America" all coming out. Although I’m a big Green Lantern fan, we’re getting into the middle tier of superheroes now. Unless you have a connection to one of the comic books it might not be enough for you to go check them out.

Then the big franchises are rolling out product, notable "Harry Potter," "Transformers," "Twilight" and "Pirates of the Caribbean." Those tentpoles will all do well. Unnecessary remakes like "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "Footloose" and "Arthur" will also hit theaters and do decent box office. Unfortunately, outside of the final installment of the  Potter series, I find it hard to get excited about any of these.

There are some intriguing films out there including "Adventures of Tintin" (Steven Spielberg), "Sucker Punch" (Zach Snyder), "Source Code" (Duncan Jones) and "Hugo Cabret" (Martin Scorsese). But just when I think that it’s safe to back into the theater, Hollywood throws The Smurfs at me. How that ever got made, especially 25 years after the series was on, is beyond me. What’s next, "My Little Pony 3D"?

Looks like another hit and miss year for movies. Let’s hope there’s more gold then lead out there.

Kent Youngblood is a producer, creative director and blogger who writes on film, television and the media. Focusing on the business side of entertainment, Youngblood examines the incongruity of everything from the over-the-top hype of showbiz to the cutthroat nature of an industry that is struggling to find its way. As executive producer at Movie Mogul Productions, he spearheads business development and creative development on all original productions.