Some Thoughts on Reboots and Remakes
A friend of mine told me yesterday that SONY green-lighted a remake/reboot of The Craft. The Craft was a very 1990s Horror movie about witches in High school and it stared Neve Campbell. Wikipedia states that the flick had a budget of 15 million and made 55 million at the Box Office. My guess is that SONY thinks that they can make piles of money now because we live in an age where the right kind of movie can make nearly 200 million during an opening weekend. Most of these movies are sequels, remakes, reboots.
My friend’s reaction (and my reaction) was more of a scream of despair about the lack of new ideas in Hollywood. Neither of us were fans of the original movie (I suspect that the film was very popular with teenage alt-girls of the time and my friend and I are just nerdy heterosexual Jewish guys). But we will both gladly join in Marie Lodi’s crusade even if our reasons are different.
There is nothing new about complaining about the lack of creativity in Hollywood. There are jokes about the lack of creativity in Hollywood from the early 1990s if not before. What I want to do is explore which movies are ripe for rebooting and remaking and which ones are not.
Theatre is filled with new productions of plays. This happens for a variety of reasons. There are classics that many directors and actors and other artists want to sink their teeth into. There are regional productions of plays that debut in New York or other cities. I just saw the San Francisco production of a play that originated in D.C.’s Wooly Mammouth Theatre. There are also large theatres that get criticized for putting on the same plays over and over again at the expense of new voices. Unsurprisingly these theatres tend to be the heavy hitters in the theatre world. They at least have the best budgets.
Remakes are not exactly confined to the world of comic books and special effects movies. The Shop Around the Corner became You’ve Got Mail. Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven. Akira Kurosawa turned MacBeth into Throne of Blood, Hamlet into The Bad Sleep Well, and King Lear into Ran. The only thing changed was the settings. Yojimbo became A Fistful of Dollars. The Three Musketeers has hit the screen numerous times.
So, why do certain films cause more ire and rage about the death of ideas as compared to others?
The Craft came out during the 1990s and the reactions to the film are to acknowledge that it exists or that it was a beloved part of your teenage years. I just don’t see why a remake of The Craft is necessary. They already made one. What can they add or do that will be new and interesting to the original. A remake of the Craft seems like a blatant play for a franchise. The movies listed above updated and changed the setting. Pre-WWII Hungry became 1990s America. Feudal Japan became the Old West. The Bad Slept Well is Hamlet but Hamlet set in a corrupt corporation in 1960s Japan.
Superhero Movies are also prime for rebooting because comic books seem to go through reboots every few years where everything gets ripped up and largely started again. The problem is that all these potential stories produces an overwhelming sensation for the non-hardcore fan. I can appreciate Superhero movies in small doses but I do get a sense of being overwhelmed by how many movies are planned for the next few years. I feel like the Marvel Universe movies are mapped out until 2030 or some similar date. I will be 50 in 2030. This might be utopia for some but it is not one for me. There is something nice about being able to say “We had a good run and let’s quit while we are ahead” instead of “Let’s milk this until it crashes and burns!!!!!” There is something nice about the one-off movie that exists as it is. This is a kind of adult sophistication and maturity, the ability to say “maybe we don’t need to reboot something where the last movie came out in 2007.”
I suspect I am a minority view here though.