Why churning out the same old ideas is big bucks in Hollywood
As you sit in the cinema watching Christian Bale rid Gotham City of crime in The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) later this month, you might want ask yourself this: is Hollywood running out of ideas?
TDKR is just one of many remakes and reboots which have graced the big screen this year and there’s more in the pipeline. We’ve already had The Amazing Spider-Man and after Batman, remakes of Total Recall and Judge Dredd (just called ‘Dredd’ this time round) hit UAE screens in late August and September.
If that wasn’t enough, 2013 is set to be even bigger for the movie magpies. Next year sees remakes of Superman (Man Of Steel) and classic 1980s action blockbusters Robocop and Escape From New York. The sequel to the Star Trek reboot is also out and even a remake of Robin Williams’ hit Jumanji is promised, which Columbia co-head Douglas Belgrad said will ‘try and re-imagine Jumanji and update it for the present.’ But we can’t help wondering whether a film as timeless as this is really in need of updating.
Not all remakes have been successful. Turkeys such as the A Nightmare On Elm Street reboot and The Stepford Wives have regularly left audiences howling in derision. And one of the worst of all was the 1998 remake of Psycho, which was shot frame for frame to look identical to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic. Why not just watch the original instead?
So why is Hollywood so obsessed with churning out old ideas? Because familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Audiences love seeing new takes on their old favourite characters: The Amazing Spider-Man was the number one release on its opening weekend and has already grossed more than than Dhs2 billion worldwide. TDKR has already been voted one of the top ten films of all time on movie-geek paradise www.imdb.com. And in these penny pinching times, another reason the rehash is so loved is cold hard cash. By the time a movie series gets to the third film, the established stars are demanding bigger salaries to play the role again, making it a perfect time to restart with a new, cheaper cast.
So if, like us, you’re getting bored of all these remakes it sucks for you too because it would seem they’re here to stay. They’re even planning on remaking Police Academy.
Hollywood’s most cursed remake
The Island of Dr Moreau (1996, Val Kilmer, Marlon Brando) While some remakes redefine cinema, others should have been left on the cutting room floor. One such is the 1996 version the classic H G Wells novel about a scientist who creates talking, mutant animals (the original film version was made in 1977). Starring Val Kilmer, David Thewlis and Marlon Brando, the entire shoot was a disaster. Director Richard Stanley was fired after four days, during filming Thewlis fell off a horse and broke his leg, Kilmer learned he was getting divorced two days into the shoot and tried to quit over the creative direction of the film. On the day production started, France set off an underwater atomic bomb near Tahiti where Brando owned an atoll. He also wore a small radio receiver during shooting to aid him remembering his lines, Thewlis claimed. ‘He’d be in the middle of a scene and suddenly he’d be picking up police messages. He’d repeat, “There’s a robbery at Woolworths”.’