It’s all been done before (Movie Remakes)


I’m still shaking my head in disbelief at the latest movie news from industry insiders. Are you ready to hear this? Hollywood is in talks to remake LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role (read here via Indiewire). That’s it, I can no longer be silent. If you’ve ever seen the original film, I think you’ll agree that a line has been crossed. LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is iconic Broadway-to-big screen gold of the 80’s (trailer here). Let’s just remake WEST SIDE STORY or GREASE while we’re at it. Open up every single studio vault and we’ll be set for the next couple of decades.

One could argue, well what about CHICAGO, RENT or MAMA MIA? They were musicals adaptations and they did well at the box office. The difference is that they were just that. Musical adaptations. The original work was only translated one time to film. That was enough for a generation of audiences. End of story. A LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS remake would mean the original play-to-movie would again be translated to film a second time. Really? This is what it’s come to, Hollywood? Should I even be surprised? This summer, SPARKLE (1976) and TOTAL RECALL (1990) remakes will hit theaters. The CARRIE (1976) remake will follow suit in 2013. Trends such as these frustrate me because I know two truths:

  1. As a film lover, I truly believe that certain movies are classics and should never again be touched by the hand of man.
  2. As an emerging filmmaker, I know studios love that a beloved film from several decades ago can easily be repackaged with an A-List actor/director to a newer generation, ultimately bringing great financial return.
Thus the remakes will continue for as long as Hollywood can see dollar signs in their eyes., not matter what dedicated fans think. When will they just admit that original stories can fill movie theater seats too?
                  
I categorize this recent rollout of remakes in the same vein as foreign remakes we saw a couple of years ago (I’m looking at you, LET ME IN). It just pure laziness. There are tons of talented new writers just waiting to see their stories on the big screen, but won’t get the same attention as a MY FAIR LADY remake. These remakes are nothing more than Coke with Lime. Some love it. Others, like myself, will call it out for what it really it. A suit trying to make another buck on a slightly tweaked version of the classic original product.
                                   

It’s not a matter of whether the film remake will be better than the original. You can’t compare a version of a film released in 2012 to the first one that came out in 1976. The classic original is forever locked in the memories of a previous generation, while the remake will have to be sold again to millennials in shiny ultra hip movie trailers. Where is the connection to the plot/emotion for the story when you walk into a theater knowing this movie already came out 20 or 30 years ago? I personally feel nothing when there isn’t at least some different (musical-to-movie or book adaptation). I’ll even take a re-imagining of a film like Ed Murphy playing the lead roles originally held by white men in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR and DR. DOLITTLE.

I understand that film, like fashion, is cyclical. Specific stories will be remade over and over (DRACULA, CINDERELLA) because they bring in audiences. All one can hope is that the newest generation will seek out original versions of remakes on DVD. Watch the classics and appreciate the aesthetics that led you to spend $12 on a ticket in the first place.
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One thought on “It’s all been done before (Movie Remakes)

  1. Laura P. says:

    Boo to all these remakes! Little shop of horrors will forever be held in my heart as the slightly cheesy but wonderfully campy treasure of my childhood. I mean seriously, it doesn’t get better than Steve Martin as a crazy ass dentist. As far as Carrie goes, I still get squicked at the dirty pillow line even today. Call me stubborn, but unnecessary remakes always seem like drawn out parodies to me.

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