We are living in an age when every movie has the potential to be remade. Childhood favorites obscure classics, or even movies that just came out a few years ago. This has frustrated fans. They cry to the studios “Why?!?” The studios do not reply; they just keep greenlighting more remakes. It is a tragic story. To stop this madness here are a list of rules to prevent unnecessary remakes. Follow them closely.
I. REMAKE WITH A PURPOSE
If the answer is to make money, then it’s not a good purpose. There needs to be a reason for there to be a second (or third or fourth) version of the same story. There ought to be a new take on the subject material. Howard Hawks made a great remake of The Front Page by shifting the genre. Instead of having the ace reporter be a woman instead of man, the movie becomes a romantic comedy. Recently Clash of the Titans was remade seemingly with the intent of amping up the special effects to make the story more epic. That question is whether that is a worthy purpose.
II. DO NOT REMAKE IN ORDER TO REBOOT A SERIES
I watch the trailer for the new Nightmare on Elm Street and I don’t get it. Aside from the brilliant casting of Jackie Earl Haley as Krueger why would people go see this? It looks identical to the original. Wouldn’t you save money by digitally remastering the first film and spend a lot of money on an advertising campaign? The original had Johnny Depp; that’ll get teens in the seats. The studios are thinking this will appeal to fans of the original, but it’s bit of a backhand slap. Why would fans of the series want to watch the same story again? Why not expand the storyline? It doesn’t have to be an intricate sequel, but if this movie HAS TO BE MADE why not make something new?
III. DON’T MAKE A SHOT-FOR-SHOT REMAKE
This doesn’t apply to Michael Haneke. He remade his own Funny Games to reach a wider American audience. It’s like putting on a play again for a new city with a new cast. This rule does apply to Gus Van Sant. Just why?
IV. DON’T REMAKE A FILM THAT IS STILL IN THE POP CULTURE LEXICON
The original Death at a Funeral came out three years ago. It was a British film that played in America and even found a following. Now there’s a new one starring Chris Rock with what seems like an identical plot. First off, changing the races is not a very interesting reason to remake a film. Secondly this is much too soon. It’s too familiar to those who have already seen it. The same goes for if the film is a classic. If someone was to remake The Wizard of Oz, that wouldn’t work because the average filmgoer can still powerfully recount each and every scene. Classics just ought not to be remade because of how highly esteemed they’re perceived as. That leads into my next rule…
V. ULTIMATELY, IF YOU CAN’T MAKE A BETTER VERSION DON’T TRY.
Ideally the best films to remake are the ones that weren’t very good in the first place. The Thing From Another World is definitely not among Howard Hawks’ best, but its successor The Thing is regarded as a great horror film now. Right now a lot of children’s book series are being rushed to the cinema in attempt to strike gold like Harry Potter. Most of them are not very good adaptations (and too expensive). Perhaps in ten years a better version could be made. However if that version is best it can ever been and there’s nothing new to explore JUST DON’T REMAKE IT.
See? It’s not that difficult! Of course a lot of these rules are based on the idea that one can make a good film. With today’s film climate that appears not to be the easiest task…