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Box-Office Slump? Blame the Remakes

The movie industry is in the throes of its worst box-office slump in 20 years, and one of the reasons getting bandied about is: too many remakes!

With millions of dollars invested, studios would rather go with a proven winner than take a risk on a new idea. The result? A glut of sequels, remakes and adaptations.

"Hollywood is just running out of original ideas. All the writers are I guess working at Starbucks now and not really getting paid to write any good stories because they have nothing left — that's why studios look to sequels and remakes," Gitesh Pandya, of boxofficeguru.com, told FOX News.

So far this summer, audiences have seen a Paris Hiltoned "House of Wax," (search) "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," (search) the final installment of "Star Wars," (search) a silver-screen spin on "Bewitched," (search) a "Honeymooners" (search) box-office flop, Adam Sandler's version of "The Longest Yard," (search) "Batman Begins," (search) another "Herbie" movie, another zombie movie from George Romero, and a "War of the Worlds" remake with Tom Cruise.

But don't try to tell filmmakers or stars that their movies are derivative. In various interviews with FOX News, they all begged to differ:

  • "Don't ask me because we didn't do a remake," said "Bewitched" director Nora Ephron (search).

  • "I really like the movie because it's not about the direct remake of the TV show. It's a little more clever and I think people will ... people are enjoying the fact that there's a little more thought behind our interpretation of it," said "Bewitched" star Will Ferrell.

  • "I did not see the original, but I think that this movie ... this seems like it will become the quintessential 'Herbie' movie," "Herbie: Fully Loaded" co-star Michael Keaton said.

  • "This is not the fifth movie. You know this is in our eyes the first movie. This is a reinvention as the name suggests. This is 'Batman Begins.' This is the genesis story," "Batman Begins" star Christian Bale said.

  • "I don't think there's any need to make comparisons, 'cause they're so different — it's like comparing a film to a book," Johnny Depp, star of the upcoming "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," said.

And still to come, "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie, "The Bad News Bears," "The Pink Panther," and "Wonder Woman," just to name a few.

While some of these movies have been hits — "Revenge of the Sith" has grossed more than $360 million, "Batman Begins" more than $133 million and "The Longest Yard" more than $100 million, they haven't done enough to boost sluggish ticket sales.

Experts blame more than just the remake factor.

"I think a lot of these films have really disappointed audiences," said Paul Dergarabedian of box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations. "On top of that, you got them able to buy all kinds of movies on DVD and watch them in the comfort of there own home. So it becomes increasingly challenging to get them out of their homes and into the movie theater."

Indeed, most Americans would now rather watch films at home than in theaters, and almost half think movies are getting worse, according to a recent AP-AOL poll.

And as "Brian in Rochester" wrote to FOXNews.com's Grrr! column last week, going to the movies is just plain expensive.

"My Grrr! goes out to all the idiots in the movie industry who can't figure out why people have stopped going to the movie theater recently. I love going to the movies as much as anybody. But let's put some facts into perspective for these Oblivions: Movie tickets for family of four: $30 popcorn; $8 drinks; $7 candy. Five dollars to sit on your own couch with a rental or DVD, with no distractions, with the family and a pizza: Priceless!" he wrote.

But Dergarabedian maintains that there's nothing like going to the movies ... even to see a remake.

"The movie-going experience is unparalleled — there is nothing like it, even with the best home theater you can't replicate a 50-foot widescreen and that communal experience, especially watching a horror film, or especially comedies with that audience. It will be here to stay, it's just that there is a lot of competing technologies out there."

FOX News' Mike Waco and Bill McCuddy contributed to this report.