Hollywood’s Obsession With Biopics

Austin Butler as “The King” in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis

It seems like every other movie in recent years is a biopic. A story about a famous musician we adore? Check out Bohemian Rhapsody, Tick Tick Boom, or Rocketman. A story about the struggling artist? Check out I, Tonya or the Eyes of Tammy Faye. A story about a significant moment in history? Check out Hacksaw Ridge or the Imitation Game.

My point is, there’s quite a few. The question is, why?
It’s because it’s the easiest form of source material for a film. Let’s face it, Hollywood is getting lazy.

We’re seeing fewer and fewer original screenplays. Everything now is adapted from a novel, a short story, a comic book, you name it. This recent trend of biopics is because all Hollywood seems to care about is telling a story already told. Whether that be through remaking old classics, producing a legacy sequel, bringing an animation to live action, or adapting a story we know all about.

This isn’t to say that adapted screenplays are films not worth seeing, simply that many lack creativity and originality. They tend to be hit or miss.

What’s fascinating about biopics is that they’re easy to write, sure, but what makes or breaks it is its leading actor. This determines the success of the movie, no matter who else is starring in the film.
Take Baz Lahrmann’s Elvis, the latest addition to the neverending line of biopics. Since its release in late June, Elvis has been surrounded by all the buzz. This isn’t a result of the story of the legendary artist or Tom Hanks in the supporting role, it’s because of Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis Presley.

Yet, despite its recent release, Elvis can only have the spotlight for so long. Hollywood’s newest biopic (yes, another one!) stars Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. All eyes will be on De Armas once it releases on Netflix on September 8th.

It doesn’t seem like this trend will die off anytime soon, with many more biopics planned for next year and even 2024. Hopefully they’ll be worth the watch.

Carla RubioCarla Rubio is an English major on the Writing and Rhetoric track with intentions of going to law school. Film studies to her is something to look forward to in the midst of all the essays and cases and research papers.