Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Remakes - Hollywood Gets Lazy

By Andrew Hawnt

Checking my various feeds each day, along with the biggest movie related websites, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain interest in the product of Hollywood. Where once there was a sense of excitement and anticipation when a new project was announced or leaked, be it via internal spies or intentional viral marketing, now there is a sense of dread. I head to the feeds wondering which classic film is next up for the shabby remake treatment.

Of late, there literally is not a day goes by without another much loved film being remade, and it really is a worrying trend. Instead of coming up with new ideas, or optioning the thousands of books, comics, stories, spec scripts and more that they have at their disposal, studios big and small are languishing in a creative limbo and just rehashing old material in order to cash in on brand familiarity.

This is a terrible trend, as it breeds apathy towards the medium and suppresses creativity. If people are content to pick up DVDs of films they already have (just with a different, lesser cast and better effects), then there will be less chance of truly original films being made by big studios.

Smaller studios may well be producing derivative work in all genres, but they are still managing some originality in there too. It is understandable if the films that are being remade really weren't that convincing the first time around, or if a series really needs a reboot (Batman, for example), but remaking everything in sight is only going to annoy your audience in the long run.

Good examples of remakes working are films such as the 1986 version of The Fly, or John Carpenter's version of The Thing, both of which took the premise and did something new and interesting with it- those films carry the same stories but told in such a manner that they feel fresh and compelling in their own right.

The current upsurge in 'That was popular, lets do a cheapo remake quick' attitudes in la-la land seems to bypass the notion of originality altogether.

The stores (both physical and digital) are absolutely bursting at the seams with content as it is- nobody needs or wants most of these remakes/reboots/reimaginings, and the audiences are starting to get a little fed up with the same old things being offered time and again. We didn't need an Omen remake.

We never asked for A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th to be remade, and we certainly never entertained the thought of remaking Hellraiser or Highlander, and yet they're all being produced. All that happens is the films end up as bargain bin DVDs and the reputation and appreciation of the original films is tarnished by the new incarnations, which are rarely a patch on the real thing. Hell, even Poltergeist and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are being regurgitated into substandard popcorn fodder as we speak.

Put down that stack of films you want to cash in on and go and read some of your slush piles. In those piles you'll find more originality that we have seen onscreen in a decade. If you must, simply MUST make something that already exists, then adapt a book or a graphic novel or even an anime series. Don't keep plundering the vaults for classics to ruin.

What happened to you Hollywood? You've never had the best ideas in the world, but at least you had ideas at all.
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Andrew writes for the pop culture/memorabilia site starstore.com and its popular blogs, covering the latest and greatest in film, TV, music and comics merchandise and collectibles.

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