Stop me if you've heard this one before: A remake of a classic film is set to hit the theaters with new characters, twists and settings.
Remakes have always been a part of Hollywood culture but lately they're out of control. In the past year, remakes of Footloose, Dirty Dancing, The Crow, Judge Dredd, Robocop, Total Recall and Highlander are just a few of the movies that have been announced or released. There's a lot more in the works.
Judging by that list, it's apparent 1980s/1990s nostalgia is in full effect and numerous classic films from that era are getting victimized by a lazy industry that refuses to come up with an original idea.
So what movie is the latest victim? Point Break, the early 1990s action film which starred Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Alcon Entertainment and Warner Bros. acquired got the rights to the film from RGM Media. The screenplay will be written by Kurt Wimmer (Salt) and it is not yet attached to a director. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie will be fast-tracked.
Alcon, which has produced movies like The Blind Side and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, has done this before. They recently acquired the rights to the Wesley Snipes thriller Blade.
Remakes are OK to do once and a while. Some of the best movies ever have been remakes.
The Departed, an Oscar winner for Best Picture, was a remake of a Japanese film by the name of Internal Affairs. Another Scorcese film, Cape Fear, was a successful remake of British film director J. Lee Thompson's 1962 thriller.
However, the abundance of remakes coupled with an excessive amount of movies that have come from books/comics, TV shows or are sequels has created a complete lack of originality in Hollywood.
Half of the top 10 grossing box office films currently (from http://www.rottentomatoes.com) are remakes, sequels or ideas that have adapted from a book -- i.e. they're not original. Even some of the films with so called original premises aren't exactly putting out groundbreaking stuff. Shark Night 3D is about young attractive people getting attacked by sharks. That's a movie that's probably been made dozens of times since Jaws proved an enormous hit for Steven Spielberg in the early 1970s.
Is it so hard to come out with an original idea?
Even some in the industry admit there is a problem. In an interview with NYMag.com, JC Spink, a partner in the management and production company Benderspink and an executive producer of The Hangover, said as much.
I think we've all gone a little bit overboard as an industry. There hasn't been room for original material for a little while now. It's a shame, because I don't think it's what anyone [who works in the business] came out here for, Spink said.
Perhaps it's just the natural evolution of an industry that puts out 5-10 globally released movies every week every year. Plus, when you look at the highest grossing movies thus far this year almost all have been sequels, remakes or ideas adapted from a book/comic.
However, the idea that originality just doesn't sell as well as familiar brands shouldn't be considered gospel. Take for instance, Spinks' The Hangover, widely considered one of the best comedies of the past 10 years. That movie grossed 467 million worldwide and was the 10th highest grossing film in 2009. Last year, Christopher Nolan's Inception grossed $825 million.
Audiences will go see movies based on original ideas -- if they're good. Of course, I guess if you're an executive producer it's just easier to bank on the success of familiar brands than a new, good idea.
That is a shame. At least we still have independent films.