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GustavoLeao

JJ Abrams Says No More Movie Reboots

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kenman   

Good for him. He has clout now, and can afford to tread new waters in the studio system. I want to see more original stuff, so I'm all for it. I don't think he is the best director in the world, but he tends to be effective, and I am all for giving him a shot if he at least tries new stuff. 

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Sim   

If it's still on his schedule, I'm looking forward to his HBO series "Lens flare"... eh, "Glare".

Under the best circumstances, it could become a SF equivalent to "Game of Thrones". HBO and JJA certainly sound like a combination with that ambition in mind.

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I recall Sehlat Vie and me talking about this on another thread... now JJ can show us if he really is Spielberg's successor. Maybe he is, in stylistic terms, but in storytelling? I remain to be convinced, but look forward to his new winning streak.

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The People.com TV spot is different than what the Gamezone article added to. He was asked by the reporter if he would do any reboots of other shows or movies, in relation to the Westworld thing, not to Star Trek or the later sequels (or really even about Star Trek). One would think if a studio wanted to do another remake of some popular show, and they hired him, he would do it if he thought it would make money. His 'I'm done doing that' is only dependent on if the right script comes along. He is certainly not Spielberg's successor just for doing a film like Spielberg did, called Super 8. He was kit bashing the model, but the picture lacked the gravitas of an actual Spielberg movie. That said, not all of Spielberg's movies were great. Famously some of them were dreadful. Two or three of JJ's movies are great, but most...eh not so much. He seems better at doing TV. Actually JJ might be the guy to restore some semblance of cool to those DC movies. Maybe they should hire him. I think he might have done a much better job at Batman v Superman than Zack Snyder.

Edited by Chimera82405

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I recall Sehlat Vie and me talking about this on another thread... now JJ can show us if he really is Spielberg's successor. Maybe he is, in stylistic terms, but in storytelling? I remain to be convinced, but look forward to his new winning streak.

We did, and as I recall we said that it'd be interesting to really see who he really is as a filmmaker.  

He's talented, that's certain.  He can do commercial properties (Star Wars, Star Trek, Fringe) and more esoteric stuff (Westworld), but it's almost always a riff or new interpretation of something already done.  Even ALIAS was something of a hodgepodge of Jason Bourne and Buffy.  I'm not knocking that, because he still has a talent for turning stale cheese into tasty lasagna.  He adds much freshness and energy, and he knows when to adhere and when to deviate.  That is NOT an easy thing to do; it's a tight walk.  But all the same, who is Abrams as an artist?  What does a non-commercial, franchise-free Abrams movie look like?

I would love to see what his own, unfettered creativity could yield.  

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kenman   

I've long doubted the Spielberg comparisons as long as he was hopping from one franchise to another. He had done only one Spielberg-homage film...and that is fine, at least it was original. Not totally satisfying, but original. As a producer, he is very Spielberg, but as a director, I remain skeptical, but I hope to see him succeed and create new stuff, because I would love fresh new stuff from someone like him. 

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Abrams is ok, but I wouldn't exactly hold him up as the pinnacle of directors/story tellers.

 

Lost and Alias were very good.  I enjoyed them.  I enjoyed the complicated plots of Lost, and while I didn't really like the ending 100 percent, it shows the man actually can create something other than a remake/reboot.  He's not Ron Moore, or Rick Berman or Brannon Braga.

 

But that said, his movies haven't been that impressive to me.  They haven't been on the level of his TV work.  Case in point--I found the Star Trek movies to be very off.  Nowhere near as intelligent or as compelling as the original series and their movies.  But Westworld, which I just completed watching yesterday, was pretty good.  Nice twists and turns there.

 

Super 8 wasn't that great, and I didn't even care to see Cloverfield.  I'd love to see 11/22/63, but I'm not adding another streaming service for it. 

The point is that he's got some talent, but I haven't seen him exactly create a Raiders of the Lost Ark from scratch. 

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The point is that he's got some talent, but I haven't seen him exactly create a Raiders of the Lost Ark from scratch. 

Well, in fairness, even "Raiders" wasn't created entirely from scratch; it was largely based on the old 1930s-'40s adventure serials that Lucas and Spielberg both grew up on. 

Nothing in entertainment is truly 100% 'new' anyway; it's all inspired in one way or another by something else.  

 

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kenman   

He did not direct either Cloverfield, just produced them. Beyond Super 8 he directed the 2 Treks, a Wars, and Mission: Impossible III. Other than directing a few TV episodes here and there before he became such a high profile producer. 

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Lost was not original. It was basically The Island meets Gilligan's Island with a little X Files tossed in. Making the islanders spooky and adding ghosts and smoke monsters is just another long Halloween special. Sure it had its moments, but it completely torpedoes itself in the end, as did X Files, on the same type of beats.

JJ is the lesser Joss Whedon. He's almost as good sometimes, but can be almost as bad other times.

Yep, the Indiana Jones stories are based on many previous works, including the comic strip Duck Tales, the 1930s and 1940s action serials, and it is not hiding that.

Star Wars wasn't original either, borrowing from similar serials, (same production team as Indy), from Japanese samurai movies, and from old westerns. 

Like the upteenth remake of Wrath of Khan in movies, even that idea isn't all that original boiled down. It's basically a WW2 submarine battle movie with two aging western stars, one of them a hero, and the other, a villain he knew when he was young. That they did not get in the ID remake. It could even be an old western theme too, from any number of old cowboy hero has to save the town from his old nemesis.

It's how the tale is retold that makes it work. Star Wars 7 TFA was pretty fantastic, for a space western pulling the same stuff as ANH did, but with a different villain.

Wasn't Buffy by Joss Whedon?

Edited by Chimera82405

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Lost was not original. It was basically The Island meets Gilligan's Island with a little X Files tossed in. Making the islanders spooky and adding ghosts and smoke monsters is just another long Halloween special. Sure it had its moments, but it completely torpedoes itself in the end, as did X Files, on the same type of beats.

Nothing is particularly "original" on television anymore. 

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Well, in fairness, even "Raiders" wasn't created entirely from scratch; it was largely based on the old 1930s-'40s adventure serials that Lucas and Spielberg both grew up on. 

Based on or inspired by?  That's a huge difference.  Take a comic book movie.  Let's say you love Superman, you become a director, and you get to make a Superman movie.  The great director will give you Superman: The Movie.  The lousy one will give you Superman IV or Man of Steel.

In both cases, you're inspired by the same thing, but talent matters. 

 

As for Lost, anyone can find similarities for any show to another.  But the originality comes from creating a new universe, with new characters, and good stories.  I think Lost accomplished that.  Lost wasn't a sequel or a reboot.  It wasn't Gilligan's Island because we didn't have a story about Gilligan, the Skipper and 5 castaways.  Nor was it in the same universe, about another group marooned on the same island, finding things from the Minnow crew.  Nor was it about Gilligan Jr. and his coincidental marooning on an island.

 

I think it's a LOT easier to play in someone's sandbox.  I think in a successful franchise, someone else did all the legwork.  They created the rules and the set up, and you just play in it.  It should be much easier to write a Star Trek movie than an original one.  There are disadvantages too, but having that name and those rules outweighs them in terms of difficulty.

So Lost was much more impressive a piece of work for Abrams than TFA. 

 

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Well, in fairness, even "Raiders" wasn't created entirely from scratch; it was largely based on the old 1930s-'40s adventure serials that Lucas and Spielberg both grew up on. 

Based on or inspired by?  That's a huge difference.  Take a comic book movie.  Let's say you love Superman, you become a director, and you get to make a Superman movie.  The great director will give you Superman: The Movie.  The lousy one will give you Superman IV or Man of Steel.

Based on or inspired by is little more than semantics; whatever excites one's passion, imagination and talent is all that matters.  

Arguably many comic book heroes have been inspired by Superman (if not most of them after 1938).  Are they all ripoffs?  Of course not.  But is a guy in a costume flying around saving people an original idea?  Of course not.   Can you still create something new with that concept?  Absolutely.

Superheroes are just modern retellings of the old Greco-Roman god mythologies, taking back to Hercules and other myths.   Nothing new there either, except the modern setting.  Are they less creative?  No.   They're a new spin on something old.   Just as most (if not all) works of modern entertainment are, to some degree or another. 

I think it's a LOT easier to play in someone's sandbox.  I think in a successful franchise, someone else did all the legwork.  They created the rules and the set up, and you just play in it.  It should be much easier to write a Star Trek movie than an original one.  There are disadvantages too, but having that name and those rules outweighs them in terms of difficulty.

So Lost was much more impressive a piece of work for Abrams than TFA. 

I disagree that 'playing in someone else's sandbox' is less a feat of creativity than being inspired by something else.  I see it as much the same thing.   Every story is an act of creativity to some degree; one is willing new characters and creations into life.   Whether it's based on something else or inspired by something else is completely irrelevant to me.   TFA is not the most creative movie ever made, but it was a wonderful new addition to an existing universe.  

And if it were so easy, why couldn't that universe's own creator succeed as well with his own prequels? 

Not to mention that it is arguably harder to create something that has the shackles and trappings of a whole imagined universe.   That's one of the problems most ST and SW stories seem to bump their heads on.   You have to create new worlds, new characters and new situations which are consistent and fresh.   It's like building a new house; yes, the house may be brand new, right down to a freshly dried foundation slab, but it has to follow certain rules of being a home.   It has to pass building codes, it has to have electricity, it has to have water, sewage access, etc.    It has to have a place to park the car.    You could put brand new spins on this new house (also depending on resources and budget), but it still has to be a house.  

So whether one is a builder, a writer or a producer/director (like Abrams), I still think the act of willing something new (established or not) into existence for the enjoyment of others is a mighty feat.   Not always successful, true, but noble in the attempt.

 

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kenman   

Lost was not original. It was basically The Island meets Gilligan's Island with a little X Files tossed in. Making the islanders spooky and adding ghosts and smoke monsters is just another long Halloween special. Sure it had its moments, but it completely torpedoes itself in the end, as did X Files, on the same type of beats.

Blending so many different things together for a new property sounds pretty original to me. 

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Lost was not original. It was basically The Island meets Gilligan's Island with a little X Files tossed in. Making the islanders spooky and adding ghosts and smoke monsters is just another long Halloween special. Sure it had its moments, but it completely torpedoes itself in the end, as did X Files, on the same type of beats.

Blending so many different things together for a new property sounds pretty original to me. 

 

Right, I agree.  As is writing a new story within an existing continuity.  It's all creation IMO.

That said?  I'm still somewhat curious to see what an original JJ Abrams' movie will look like...

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Based on or inspired by is little more than semantics; whatever excites one's passion, imagination and talent is all that matters.  

I don't see it as semantics.  I think it's two different animals.  TNG was based on Star Trek.  It was a sequel, in the same universe.  Little House on the Prairie was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.  Same characters. 

Wrath of Khan was inspired by Moby Dick.  There were matching themes there, but it wasn't a remake, a sequel, or the same universe in any way.

Arguably many comic book heroes have been inspired by Superman (if not most of them after 1938).  Are they all ripoffs?  Of course not.  But is a guy in a costume flying around saving people an original idea?  Of course not.   Can you still create something new with that concept?  Absolutely.

Very true.  You have to be careful not to mimic the powers too closely or you are a rip off.  But plenty of heroes have at least some of Superman's abilities, like invulnerability or super strength.

And pretty much all of them would be something I would call original work. 

 

I disagree that 'playing in someone else's sandbox' is less a feat of creativity than being inspired by something else.  I see it as much the same thing.   Every story is an act of creativity to some degree; one is willing new characters and creations into life.   Whether it's based on something else or inspired by something else is completely irrelevant to me.   TFA is not the most creative movie ever made, but it was a wonderful new addition to an existing universe.  

 

TFA was a good movie, but it was a complete knockoff of A New Hope.  It was a movie set in a universe that was already established, and already had a guaranteed audience.  Abrams could have made Star Wars: Pie Fight, where Luke and Kylo use the Force to throw pies at each other, missing and hitting other people, who join in, for 2 hours, and it would have made 9 figures.  That's why it's easier.  There's a template to follow. 

How many people here have written fan fiction?  Do you find it easier to write for characters you already know, in a universe that you know like the back of your hand?

I know that I do.

 

And if it were so easy, why couldn't that universe's own creator succeed as well with his own prequels? 

Sometimes you get a little too close to the work.  Lucas lost touch with his vision I think.  Look how much he tinkered with it.  Maybe he didn't realize what it was about Star Wars that its fans loved.  It started with the Ewoks, and went from there.  Merchandising was a factor.  And maybe he just ran out of gas creatively.  Just because I think it's easier to write in an established universe doesn't mean writing is easy.

When was the last time Lucas created something new that went well?

I will add a caveat though.  In order to write for an established universe, you need to be both knowledgeable and a fan of that universe.

You need a level of humility to know that you're in someone else's sandbox.

You can't be so arrogant that you can change the basics in the name of modernizing.  Case in point--Zack Snyder and Superman. 

You would think that a character as established and loved as Superman would be incapable of appearing in a movie that sucks, yet Hollywood hasn't made a good Superman movie since 1980.  That's amazing.

 

Yes, there are restrictions in another universe, which are the cons.  Refusing to play by those rules leads to push back, which certainly happened to Abrams in Star Trek.

That's the advantage of original work--you're the boss.  You make the rules.  You make the McGuffins. 

But it's not easy to get that right idea.  Abrams I think did it on TV, but hasn't in the movies yet.

 

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Wrath of Khan was inspired by Moby Dick.  There were matching themes there, but it wasn't a remake, a sequel, or the same universe in any way.

So what?  TWOK was also inspired by "Tale of Two Cities"; would it exist without Moby Dick and ToTC?  Arguably yes, but would it be as inspired?  No.

Inspired by... remake... I really don't care.

Do you find it easier to write for characters you already know, in a universe that you know like the back of your hand? 

Personally I find playing in a known universe a bit more challenging;  it's like throwing a party in someone else's house.  You have to be much more careful against staining the carpets or breaking the good china.   Throwing a party in my own house?  I'm a bit less nervous.

That's the advantage of original work--you're the boss.  You make the rules.  You make the McGuffins. 

And, conversely, that's also the challenge of working in someone else's universe; you have to mind all of THEIR McGuffins.  And you have to understand thematically and creatively what makes a story in that universe work, as opposed to one you've just made up.    

And even if you do make a new story out of whole cloth, you still have to be mindful of your inspirations as to avoid plagiarism, since almost EVERYTHING out there is inspired by something else, even subconsciously.   Every new writer thinks he/she invented Plot Twist A, only to find out (through research) that it's been done to death in 1,000 other works.  With writing in someone else's backyard, you're just able to see some of the signposts better, that's all.  

But the SAME challenges of telling a new story are the EXACT same.

I would agree that TFA was, in many ways, "New Hope: The Next Generation" but that's also what it had to be to get the derailed SW train back on the tracks.   It had to have enough sentiment/nostalgia to win back older fans but it also had to illustrate to newer fans exactly WHY so many fell in love with the SW universe in the first place.  It was a tightrope, but I think Abrams did it (more or less) how it had to be done.

Was TFA his most creative endeavor?  No.  Was it still fun and enjoyable?  Absolutely.   
Whether one is creating anew or adapting from the old, the challenges of telling a story and winning an audience are EXACTLY the same. 

 

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So what?  TWOK was also inspired by "Tale of Two Cities"; would it exist without Moby Dick and ToTC?  Arguably yes, but would it be as inspired?  No.

Inspired by... remake... I really don't care.

The point is there is a difference.  Themes are one thing.  But actual character use and universe rules are another. 

Personally I find playing in a known universe a bit more challenging;  it's like throwing a party in someone else's house.  You have to be much more careful against staining the carpets or breaking the good china.   Throwing a party in my own house?  I'm a bit less nervous.

 

If your knowledge is up to speed, and your talent is appropriate, you should be able to handle it.  Assuming you had the talent to write for Star Trek, your knowledge of the characters and the episodes would make you very valuable for that franchise, and you would most important know what NOT to do.  Yes, the restrictions are off with original work, but you have to actually figure out a franchise level idea, and THAT is extremely hard.

 

 

 

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So what?  TWOK was also inspired by "Tale of Two Cities"; would it exist without Moby Dick and ToTC?  Arguably yes, but would it be as inspired?  No.

Inspired by... remake... I really don't care.

The point is there is a difference.  Themes are one thing.  But actual character use and universe rules are another. 

Personally I find playing in a known universe a bit more challenging;  it's like throwing a party in someone else's house.  You have to be much more careful against staining the carpets or breaking the good china.   Throwing a party in my own house?  I'm a bit less nervous.

 

If your knowledge is up to speed, and your talent is appropriate, you should be able to handle it.  Assuming you had the talent to write for Star Trek, your knowledge of the characters and the episodes would make you very valuable for that franchise, and you would most important know what NOT to do.  Yes, the restrictions are off with original work, but you have to actually figure out a franchise level idea, and THAT is extremely hard.

^
I don't think anyone looks into a crystal ball and knows exactly what's going to be franchisable.   Certainly Lucas didn't when he created Star Wars; everyone involved thought they were making a B-movie at best.  You're assuming writers know ahead of time what audiences will love or not, and that is largely a roll of the dice and timing.

Sometimes great ideas are launched at the wrong time and go nowhere.   And sometimes mediocre ideas (or even bad ones) are launched with good timing and become hits.

And I simply disagree with you that inspirations and in-universe rules are so different a thing.  To me, they both represent parameters for storytelling.  One is simply more exacting than the other, that's all. 

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I get what you're saying, and of course that's true.  No one knows what is going to take off, but the bottom line is, greatness does take off.  A person who creates a franchise on his own, or has that mega hit with something original is much different than someone playing in someone else's sandbox. 

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I get what you're saying, and of course that's true.  No one knows what is going to take off, but the bottom line is, greatness does take off.  A person who creates a franchise on his own, or has that mega hit with something original is much different than someone playing in someone else's sandbox. 

In your opinion, and I just don't agree. 

As for 'greatness'?  It also has a nasty habit of being recognized post de facto. 

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A good rule of thumb - if you think it's easy, or straightforward in the sense that it's just following a set of rules and being "talented," try it. 

If you think it's easier to play in someone's sandbox, do it. If you think it's easier to create your own universe, with all its own rules, do that. You'll find that each is a very different beast, with some similarities, sure, but much that is simply incomparable. Most of those "How to" books out there = bull$hit. They tell you about structure and storytelling grammar. And there are now so many "making of" articles and books in existence, everyone on the Internet fancies themselves as an expert. Truth is, until you sit down and write, and do it for a living, you're clueless. Even most working writers will admit to days of frustration and lack of focus where they produce nothing that they think is of worth. 

In any area of media or entertainment, the marketing criteria by which storytelling is measured is whether you find an audience and sustain it. That does not invalidate personal vision, or a story that has an audience of three, or a TV show that didn't find an audience at time of broadcast but was later recognized as brilliant. All it does it demonstrate the mercurial vagaries of market forces. 

Taking that back to JJ, he's extremely good at identifying storytelling trends and repurposing them, updating them. I think he's also an incredibly efficient producer, but that shouldn't be confused with assessing his own abilities as a storyteller. For example, he created Lost, directed the pilot, then more or less handed it over to showrunners (Damon Lindelhoff and others). He's great at set up, beginning things, and he's a supremely gifted stylist. He's not strong on plot at all, but he understands character and how success there can make people forgive a lot - although I think he's pretty bumpy there too, sometimes. 

For the record, I think Lost had five very entertaining seasons (the fifth ending in one of the greatest cliffhangers ever) and a sixth that wasn't worth a damn and a final episode that was one of the greatest letdowns in TV history. To the marketing department, that didn't matter, because the ratings were stupendous. It isn't a show I ever plan on revisiting, so from my POV (for what it's worth), its aftermarket value is very low.

Now, I want JJ to show me what he'll do as an artist, a genuine storyteller, not as a showman and consummate Hollywood professional. he has that freedom. Go on, JJ. Just remember what William Goldman once said: "No-one knows anything." 

 

 

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A good rule of thumb - if you think it's easy, or straightforward in the sense that it's just following a set of rules and being "talented," try it. 

If you think it's easier to play in someone's sandbox, do it. If you think it's easier to create your own universe, with all its own rules, do that. You'll find that each is a very different beast, with some similarities, sure, but much that is simply incomparable. Most of those "How to" books out there = bull$hit. They tell you about structure and storytelling grammar. And there are now so many "making of" articles and books in existence, everyone on the Internet fancies themselves as an expert. Truth is, until you sit down and write, and do it for a living, you're clueless. Even most working writers will admit to days of frustration and lack of focus where they produce nothing that they think is of worth. 

In any area of media or entertainment, the marketing criteria by which storytelling is measured is whether you find an audience and sustain it. That does not invalidate personal vision, or a story that has an audience of three, or a TV show that didn't find an audience at time of broadcast but was later recognized as brilliant. All it does it demonstrate the mercurial vagaries of market forces. 

Taking that back to JJ, he's extremely good at identifying storytelling trends and repurposing them, updating them. I think he's also an incredibly efficient producer, but that shouldn't be confused with assessing his own abilities as a storyteller. For example, he created Lost, directed the pilot, then more or less handed it over to showrunners (Damon Lindelhoff and others). He's great at set up, beginning things, and he's a supremely gifted stylist. He's not strong on plot at all, but he understands character and how success there can make people forgive a lot - although I think he's pretty bumpy there too, sometimes. 

For the record, I think Lost had five very entertaining seasons (the fifth ending in one of the greatest cliffhangers ever) and a sixth that wasn't worth a damn and a final episode that was one of the greatest letdowns in TV history. To the marketing department, that didn't matter, because the ratings were stupendous. It isn't a show I ever plan on revisiting, so from my POV (for what it's worth), its aftermarket value is very low.

Now, I want JJ to show me what he'll do as an artist, a genuine storyteller, not as a showman and consummate Hollywood professional. he has that freedom. Go on, JJ. Just remember what William Goldman once said: "No-one knows anything." 

^
All of this.

Though in full disclosure, I never got into "Lost"; watched a few episodes, but it just didn't stick for some reason (maybe I was too into Ron Moore's BSG and the new incarnation of DW at the time to notice?).    I do agree that Abrams' strongest suit is characters; he gives them warmth and vitality that often compensate for weaker plotting (kind of the opposite of Gareth Edwards).

And yes, to anyone that thinks writing in another's universe is somehow 'easier'?  Try it sometime (beyond fanfic).   I would say it's even more daunting than creating a new universe precisely because of all of the in-house rules (not to mention the omnipresent audience expectations).  

I would compare it to driving on an open deserted highway versus driving in Manhattan or L.A. traffic at rush hour.   Any driver can attempt the former, but only a skilled one can do the latter. 

As for the issue of 'greatness'?  Once again, no one knows what will be great until afterward.  There are no guarantees.   Look at Dr Who, which began as an afternoon children's show... and see where it is NOW.   I'm pretty sure Sydney Newman ("Pop, pop, pop!") had NO idea that his little show about a time traveling guy in a police box would ever attain the level of love and devotion it has today.   Others nurtured it to that end; including Verity Lambert, Terry Nation, Barry Letts, Terrence Dicks, and SO MANY OTHERS who made it the great show it is today.

A city parks contractor may build a sandbox; but it's the ones who play in it that make it come alive.  ;)

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You're never going to create a franchise if you're busy working in someone else's franchise.

 

Yes, it comes after the fact.  You don't know until it's done.  But the great directors/writers do get it done.  And an original franchise where no one has any attachment to in the beginning is very hard to create from scratch. 

If Spielberg only worked in other people's franchises, he would not be considered a big deal at all.  Same with Lucas. 

Abrams needs to do that before he is considered a great, and so far, he has not come close in movies.  But the fact that he has succeeded very well in TV shows a lot of potential.

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