Highly Specific Trends That Hollywood Went Absolutely Wild With

Voting Rules

Vote up the times Hollywood doubled-down on a trend so hard they might've gone a little overboard.

Since the early days of movie making, Hollywood has habitually copied its successful ideas over and over again until audiences finally get sick of them. Then they move on to the next fad or trend and do the same thing. 

This isn't a recent phenomenon. Back in the 1910s, studios hired Charlie Chaplin imitators to churn out dozens of "Chaplinesque" comedies during periods when Chaplin wasn't releasing films. And Rin Tin Tin became a big star in part because another German Shepherd had caused a huge sensation in a film, and producers were looking to capitalize off of that.

Over the years, Hollywood and other producers have turned swimsuit-wearing teenagers, vaudeville comics, and titanic monsters into the stars of their own film franchises. They've terrorized audiences with dozens of films about masked slayers and man-eating aquatic creatures. And they've adapted dozens of television shows into feature films.

Some of these trends have been short-lived. Others have continued for decades. As long as the "next big thing" keeps turning a profit, Hollywood studios will happily churn out more of the same.

  • At one time, he was the biggest music star in the United States, but Elvis Presley also hoped to become a serious actor. In early 1956, he did a screen test that won him a contract with Paramount Pictures.

    The contract allowed Presley to make films for other studios, and his debut was in 20th Century Fox's Love Me Tender. When his casting was announced, the studio was deluged with questions from Presley fans, which led to the producers expanding his role and giving his character songs to perform.

    A western set at the end of the Civil War, Love Me Tender has four Presley songs on the soundtrack, including the title song, which became a huge hit for him. Although the film was a commercial smash and he received good reviews, Presley regretted making the film, believing the addition of the songs set up his future Hollywood career.

    He made three more films (Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, and King Creole) prior to being inducted into the army. All three had dramatic storylines but cast Presley as a musician. While he wanted to be taken seriously as an actor, the studios were determined to cash in on his music stardom, and his manager was more interested in how the soundtracks sold than in the quality of the scripts.

    Presley made an average of three films per year from 1960 to 1969. He did make two non-musicals (Flaming Star and Wild in the Country) shortly after his discharge from the army, but neither was as commercially successful as his musical films. As a result, most of his remaining film appearances were in fluffy musicals. His last narrative film was A Change of Habit.

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    29 Rin Tin Tin Movies Came Out In A Nine-Year Span

    During the silent-film era, a dog named Rin Tin Tin was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Rin Tin Tin was a male German Shepherd rescued from a World War I field by an American soldier named Lee Duncan.  

    In the early 1920s, Duncan would take Rin Tin Tin to the various Poverty Row (B-movie or low-budget) studios, looking to get him movie work. In 1921, a German Shepherd named Strongheart caused a sensation when it appeared in the film The Silent Call, and studios were looking to cash in by using other German Shepherds in films.

    "Rinty" got his first role in The Man from Hell's River. After making a few more films, Duncan convinced Warner Bros. to produce Where the North Begins, casting Rin Tin Tin as the lead. The film was a huge success and has been credited with saving Warner Bros. from bankruptcy. Rin Tin Tin made 24 more film appearances between 1923 and his passing in 1932, all of them successful - so much so that studio insiders dubbed the dog "the mortgage lifter."

    At the height of his fame, Rinty earned $6,000 a month and received as many as 12,000 fan letters a week. Other studios looked to cash in on his popularity by releasing films starring dogs; the most notable example was Ace the Wonder Dog, a German Shepherd who appeared in a number of films from 1938 to 1946.

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  • In 1980, movie audiences were introduced to Jason Voorhees, the hockey mask-wearing slayer (although in the original Friday the 13th, his mother is the actual perpetrator). Given the recent success of a bunch of horror movies and the low budget (around $500,000), Paramount thought the film was a low risk and won the rights to distribute it. That decision paid off; Friday the 13th earned nearly $40 million at the domestic box office.

    This success led to seven sequels from 1981 to 1989 (another came out in 1993, and three more were released in the 2000s). A different actor played Jason in each of the first six movies before Kane Hodder took on the role for multiple films. And no director has helmed more than one film in the series. But each of the movies follow the same basic premise: Jason terrorizes and eliminates unfortunate people before he is supposedly offed himself (only to reappear in the next sequel).

    All of the films in this series released prior to 2000 were made on budgets of no more than $4 million, allowing them to be quite profitable. 

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    Studios Hired Charlie Chaplin Imitators In Order To Churn Out More 'Tramp' Films

    Charlie Chaplin's "Tramp" was one of Hollywood's first icons. The character was created for Chaplin's second film, Mabel's Strange Predicament (1914). From the minute Chaplin put on the clothes and makeup, he said, "I began to know him, and by the time I walked on to the stage he was fully born."

    Chaplin's work pace slowed after he formed his own studio. After starring in 12 films in 1916-17, he released just five films in 1918-19. But demand for Chaplin-type films remained high, and Billy West was ready to fill that void.

    West had already imitated Chaplin in a vaudeville routine by the time he got hired in 1916 to appear in a Chaplinesque comedy film. After coming to Hollywood, West starred in 15 Tramp-type films in 1918 alone.

    West copied Chaplin closely, even sleeping with his hair in curlers and learning how to play the violin lefthanded. There were other Chaplin imitators in Hollywood, like Ray Hughes and Billie Ritchie, but West was the only actor who possessed enough name recognition to draw in audiences. 

    In addition to the imitators, many of Chaplin's early films weren't copyrighted, so small companies were able to recut and reissue these movies. These bootleg films became so common that Chaplin had to sign his name under his real films' title cards in order to authenticate them.

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    The Success Of 'The Thin Man' Led To A Slew Of Films Featuring Mystery-Solving Couples

    In 1934, MGM released The Thin Man, a lighthearted mystery film based on a Dashiell Hammett novel. William Powell played retired detective Nick Charles and Myrna Loy played his heiress wife, Nora. The film, which took about two weeks to shoot and had a budget of slightly more than $200,000, was a critical and commercial hit, making a profit of more than $700,000 and being nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor.

    This success led to MGM making five Thin Man sequels between 1936 and 1947, all of which starred Powell and Loy. It also led to MGM and other studios producing a plethora of films featuring other mystery-solving couples throughout the 1930s and early 1940s in the hopes of duplicating this success. 

    Among the fictional pairs that appeared in multiple films were Garda and Joel Sloane (three films, 1938-39) and Hildegarde and Oscar Piper (five films, 1932-37). Powell, meanwhile, was cast in two films that were clearly meant to capitalize off the popularity of his Nick Charles character - Star of Midnight (opposite Ginger Rogers) in 1935 and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (opposite Jean Arthur) in 1936. None were as successful as the Thin Man films, and the trend faded prior to WWII.

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    'Jaws' Inspired Dozens Of Shameless 'Aquatic Monster' Ripoffs In The Late 1970s

    In 1975, a film about a man-eating great white shark terrorized movie audiences, making many afraid of going anywhere near the ocean. Directed by a young Steven Spielberg, Jaws overcame its troubled production history (it went over budget and over schedule, and the mechanical shark liked to malfunction) to become a massive hit. It was the first film to earn $100 million in US rentals.

    The huge success of Jawresulted in studios jumping on the bandwagon and releasing films starring treacherous aquatic creatures. Among these were Mako: The Jaws of Death (1976), Orca (1977), Barracuda (1977), Piranha (1978), and, of course, Jaws 2 (1978).

    Spielberg declared Piranha, which was a low-budget, tongue-in-cheek film written by John Sayles and produced by Roger Corman, "the best of the Jaws ripoffs." Joe Dante, the director of the film, later claimed that because Piranha was scheduled to be released around the same time as Jaws 2, Universal Pictures wanted to take out an injunction, but Spielberg told the studio to leave it alone.

    In addition to inspiring a glut of serious - and not-so-serious - films about deadly marine animals, Jaws was also heavily influential in making summer the prime time to release big-budget films.

    Jaws itself spawned three sequels: Jaws 2 (1978), Jaws 3-D (1983), and Jaws: The Revenge (1987). While all three were profitable, none came close to the box office or cultural impact of the original.

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