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According to Yahoo, which pulled Landis' tweets, he began by acknowledging the box office placement, which was even behind The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, both of which had already debuted in theaters in previous weeks.
According to Landis, American Ultra is a good movie, considered better than most of the aforementioned competitors in the eyes of the critics. (M:I5 is an exception.) Given that the film lost to "a sequel, a sequel reboot, a biopic, a sequel and a reboot," he was left with an unsettling revelation.
...American Ultra was also beaten by the critically reviled Hitman Agent 47 and Sinister, despite being a better reviewed film than either..— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) August 22, 2015
Landis goes on to reminisce on the "golden years" of moviemaking in the ‘80s and ‘90s, when audiences didn’t know what they were getting in the theaters. Because of American Ultra's poor placement, he asks whether this has changed.
...it seems the reviews didn't even matter, the MOVIE didn't matter. The argument that can/will be made is: big level original ideas don't $— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) August 22, 2015
Am I wrong? Is trying to make original movies in a big way just not a valid career path anymore for anyone but Tarantino and Nolan?— Max Landis (@Uptomyknees) August 22, 2015
In posing this question to Twitter he questions whether or not original concepts in movies are over and done; whether all that anyone cares about anymore are sequels, reboots and the like. So, let's take a look at some of the original films -- aside from American Ultra -- that have hit theaters in the past year.
Interstellar was a major success and even earned some awards buzz, though Landis sees its director Christopher Nolan as an exception to this question. Other films with original concepts were Neighbors with Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, Ride Along with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart, Lucy with Scarlett Johansson, and The Grand Budapest Hotel with Ralphe Fiennes. BuzzFeed reported that these were among the most successful original concepts of 2014, also disregarding films that were based on true stories and historical figures. With the exception of Grand Budapest and Instersteller, all of those mentioned are getting sequels because of heir success. This year also saw Pixar's Inside Out, Spy with Melissa McCarthy, and Neill Blomkamp's Chappie hit theaters.
So, while it's easy for studios to sign off on something as seemingly easy and safe as non-original content, there is still hope for originality. However, there's no denying how scarce it's become in the current Hollywood climate.