Studio executives talk remakes
Your worst fears are being answered, that is if you hate the idea of cheap remakes made just to gather the studios money, as a couple of stories reveal today that the studios are in full fledged remake mode, something we could easily tell by all the announcements that have been coming out over the last few years.
However there's something far worrying in here, just how jaded and money focussed the comments from the studios are, and how there aren't many comments from executives interested in doing something original with the stories, or remaking a film and adding to it.
You can understand the rationale behind remaking a film, after all it's cheaper as there's less work to be done and there's a ready made audience out there who already know the property. Here's how one studio executive described it in the article in The Hollywood Reporter:
“If you're trying to get a movie made now, you can push the rock up a mountain or you can push it on flat ground...and most of us would rather push it on flat ground.”
As the article says the studio has to invest money in convincing people to go see the film, ready made audiences are attractive. Here's another studio executive comment:
“For original movies, you need to advertise the idea, the story -- it's about convincing people that it's worth seeing...With something that is branded, no education is required.”
However I don't believe that just remaking a film or adapting a hugely popular story guarantees you a ready made audience. Sure there's a fan base there, but you still have to convince them to come and see the film, and in the demanding realms of Hollywood it's no longer enough for them just to come and see it once on opening weekend – see Watchmen as a perfect example for that issue. We had the writer pleading with people to go and see it again.
Of course it's not just remakes either, there are re-imaginings, or rather films that ignore what has gone before, or at the very least rewrite the history created in these films in order to make another one, see the new xXx and Lara Croft as case and point.
One executive, Eric Newman co-head of Strike Entertainment, defends the choices of the studio, including his own, to plunder these ready made projects:
“To execs who grew up on these movies, this is high art. I was doing my own 'Dawn of the Dead' with a 8mm camera when I was 9...I don't think it means we are out of ideas. I think these movies are great stories, and great stories are told over and over again.”
Is that really what's happening? Is that really how you see it when you sit down and begin watching one of these remakes on the big screen, or is it treading familiar ground in all too familiar way, or perhaps in a half-hearted way and not breaking any new ground at all?
It's good to see though that some executives aren't that keen on the remakes, and there are a couple of comments from those that say there are plenty of films that shouldn't be remade and would just make for bad films, but then it's all about the money as another confirms:
"Creatively, it can be bad, but it's an endless money train to be on...You're profitable by Saturday afternoon on that movie. And until audiences say we've had enough, you can event-size these movies."
The strong article in The Hollywood Reporter finishes with a great quote from one executive which, I think, sums up the feeling of the audience themselves:
“I now sit down and scroll though IMDb looking for movies, and I spend time researching rights to old TV shows...That's where I spend more of my development time.”
That's how it feels sometimes, the creative factor of Hollywood is fast disappearing and the money making machine is coming more and more to the fore. Of course it always has been there, but behind it there were producers with great ideas, with power and the ability to get things made, and in front of the screen a far less jaded audience.
I think it's telling that throughout the article there were only a few remake (and a couple of re-imagined) titles mentioned, but that list comprised of:
Romancing the Stone, Footloose, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dune, The Karate Kid, Red Dawn, RoboCop, The Big Chill, Arthur, Ghostbusters, The NeverEnding Story, Total Recall, xXx, Lara Croft, The Thing, They Live, Creature From the Black Lagoon
Now that is sad isn't it?