For every Red Dragon, there’s a My Bloody Valentine 3D. For every Batman Begins there’s a Wicker Man. This list goes on and on.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll notice that the past few years have seen various remakes, reboots, and reversions of established franchises. The marketing practice is nothing new, as films were remade as early as the 1950’s.
So, what’s caused the recent spike in the number of remakes? The biggest factor would have to be the recent economic downturn. Making movies is an expensive business.
As a studio, you’d want to make you margin of success as wide as possible. As a result, studios are more inclined to try to use ideas that were previously successful instead of taking a gamble.
Now you ask, “instead of remaking these films, why not just re-release them?”
Here we find the common “Lucasian” practice of re-versioning. That is: to take an existing film and edit it or make various changes to it. This can be observed in the recent re-release of the James Cameron film, Titanic, which has been converted to 3D as well as having certain “historical errors” rectified.
After being fed up with re-versioned films, you may want to find a film that’s a fresh start; a film that doesn’t require a lot of outside research to understand.
When remakes and reversions just aren’t enough…
Since Hollywood is a very cautious entity, they often turn to the third item: the reboot. In this nuclear option of storytelling, a franchise throws any and all established continuity out the window and starts over with new rules and stories.
This method has become common in the world of superhero fiction with the controversial DC reboot in comics and the upcoming Superman reboot being brought to us by Zach Snyder.
There are some remakes with a special place in film history, such as The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the Akira Kurosawa film, Seven Samurai. However, good remakes now seem so few and far between depending on how much passion there is behind it.
As Hollywood becomes more and more risk adverse, it leaves you with this question: “Will film get to the point where original ideas can only be found in the independent markets, or will we see a reversal of current trends in the near future?”
Only time and money will tell.
Next Week: The History of Documentaries