Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times posted a great piece yesterday that explains a very disturbing trend.

“The drug everyone is hooked on – the habit Hollywood can’t seem to break.

It’s the golden age of the remake, as Goldstein explains…

In light of a summer that offered audiences a mixed bag of remakes, reboots and re-imaginings (“Star Trek,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Land of the Lost” just to name a few), the list of upcoming recycled properties is pretty stunning, especially when you see how many top filmmakers — who would presumably have the clout and artistic ambition to do something more original — have embraced older, more familiar material.

Steven Spielberg, the world’s most successful living filmmaker, recently announced that he’s doing a remake of “Harvey,” the 1950 Jimmy Stewart comedy, with that project bumping aside, for the time being, Spielberg’s involvement as a director in a remake of “Matt Helm,” the 1970s TV series that is being developed as a feature at Paramount.

Robert Zemeckis, another major league filmmaker, is at Disney, doing a remake of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”; Bryan Singer is now at work on a remake of 1981’s “Excalibur”; while horror-meister Rob Zombie, fresh off his second “Halloween” movie, is redoing the sci-fi camp classic “The Blob.” (which had already been remade once before). “Shoot ‘Em Up” director Michael Davis is doing a remake of “Outland,” the 1981 Sean Connery-starring sci-fi thriller, while Screen Gems is moving ahead with a reboot of Sam Peckinpah’s “Straw Dogs.”

There are dozens upon dozens of remakes already on the studio release slates. MGM has a new version of “Fame” due out later this month, with a remake of “Red Dawn” in the works. Sony, which just did a remake of “The Taking of Pelham 123” this summer, has remakes of “Karate Kid” and “The Green Hornet” coming next summer. 20th Century Fox has a new version of “Gulliver’s Travels” coming next summer, with a remake of “The A-Team” to follow, along with yet another installment in its “Predator” series, this one from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. Universal has updates of both “The Wolfman” and “Robin Hood,” the latter with Russell Crowe in the lead role and Ridley Scott behind the camera.

But wait … there’s more. Paramount already has a remake of “Footloose” on its schedule for next year, with a revamped “Beverly Hills Cop” in active development. Warners has an updated “Sherlock Holmes,” with Robert Downey Jr. in the lead, coming this Christmas, with remakes of “Clash of the Titans” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” due in 2010.

As Goldstein further notes, TV is also ridden with remakes as well, including “90210,” “Melrose Place,” “Eastwick,” “Parenthood,” and “V.” All of these are terrible ideas…why not just re-air the old show/movie/miniseries that is going to turn out to be of superior quality anyway??

And don’t even get me started on the sacrilege of remaking “Heathers” for TV.

What’s your damage, Hollywood?

Goldstein explains that there are two very simple reasons why remakes rule.

(He actually lists three, but two of them are essentially the same thing.)

#1. Dumbasses like you flock to see them. The fact is, movie audiences would rather go see a film based on a concept they’re familiar with than open their tiny minds to new ideas. Even though you know the movies are going to suck 90% of the time, you still line up like the sheep you are to see the sequels, remakes, and book adaptations that have reduced the art of original screenwriting to a grimy pushcart in the Hollywood ghetto. What the hell is wrong with you people?!

Let’s take a look at the top grossing movies of 2009 so far, courtesy of IMDB.

Sequels and remakes are in bold:

399,416,040 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
294,258,075 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

289,639,811 Up
270,237,753 The Hangover
256,673,273 Star Trek
198,255,437 Monsters vs Aliens
193,250,211 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
179,863,544 X-Men Origins: Wolverine
176,461,908 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian

160,154,402 The Proposal

How many of you lemmings saw the movies in bold?? Admit your crime – you’re a devoted patron of unoriginal material!

Goldstein gets an amazing quote from a studio executive, who was probably wiping his backside with ill-gotten cash as he explained the wicked money machine that is Hollywood, Remake City.

As a way of explaining the appeal of the remake formula, a top studio executive walked me through the history of Warners’ “Batman” franchise. It began as a TV series, then morphed into a series of big-screen features, which were huge moneymakers — when Tim Burton was at the helm — until the studio pretty much buried the franchise as the films turned into ghastly camp exercises. The studio then relaunched the series with Chris Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” which spawned “The Dark Knight,” which ended up becoming the second-highest-grossing film of all time.

“If you look at that progression, you would have to say that audiences didn’t reward anyone for creating anything new,” the studio exec explained. “In fact, if you can make even more money than you could possibly imagine by doing a sequel to a film that was in itself a reboot of an old film series after it was a TV show, how would that experience possibly persuade any studio chief that people want something new and different?”

#2. Filmmakers don’t give a shit any more. When directors like Spielberg have lost interest in directing original screenplays, why should studios or audiences feel any differently? If filmmakers aren’t going to stick up for screenwriters, instead encouraging them to follow in the footsteps of remake/adaptation hack Akiva Goldsman or purveyors of rehashed nonsense Kurtzman and Orci…I just threw up in my mouth, I can’t even continue this paragraph.

“You want a movie based on the old, irrelevant, useless toy, the Viewmaster? That’s a SWELL idea! Coming right up, Mr. Bruckheimer!”

Goldstein points out that many of Hollywood’s most respected auteurs have jumped on board the USS Remake, full steam ahead to profit-land…

A decade ago, it wasn’t easy to seduce a top filmmaker into jumping onto the remake bandwagon. It was almost a point of pride for filmmakers to apply their artistry to original material. But with careers more difficult to sustain than ever, a host of top filmmakers have abandoned their resistance to franchise-able projects. After all, it was Michael Mann who remade “Miami Vice,” just as it was Spielberg who went back to the well to do another “Indiana Jones” movie while Chris Nolan has stuck with the “Batman” franchise and Sam Raimi has hung in with the “Spider-Man” series.

Needless to say, most of the remakes mentioned above were forgettable, if not downright blasphemous. “Miami Vice” had some nice fight scenes, but way too many shots of a brooding Colin Farrell driving around on a powerboat. “Spider-Man” just got more and more squishy as it went along. The fourth “Indiana Jones” movie was an abortion.

For every Chris Nolan or JJ Abrams putting a cool new spin on a tried-and-true classic, there’s five jokers making a two hour crap sandwich that America greedily devours.

Gawker’s Andrew Belonsky says it well:

We can blame Hollywood all we like, but it’s really the public who’s encouraging laziness on the part of our entertainers. It’s we who are helping erode the foundations of America’s collective imagination, thus giving rise to remakes like Fame, The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 and, why?!, Footloose. This isn’t nostalgia. This is a sad indictment of our insatiable love for all things safe, secure and ultimately conventional. And it’s for that reason that we don’t deserve entertainment at all. Not until we can prove we need more than flashing lights and shiny objects to get us off.

About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

3 Responses to Hate Remakes? BLAME YOURSELVES

  1. 0whole1 says:

    I’m part of of the problem.

    However, I’m part of the problem that went to see Batman Returns, The Dark Night, and Star Trek, not part of the problem that went to see Transformers.

    I’m not sure what that proves beyond being a fanboy loser, but at least I got that.

  2. SecretM says:

    To make reparations I suggest you all go see the original Norwegian “Insomnia” released a mere 5 years before Chris Nolan (yes the very same) decided to make his dumbass Hollywood remake. Of course as they say people in Europe mature faster what with all the topless beaches and young drinking ages so those are like 5 human years to a dog.

  3. 0whole1 says:

    Does seeing “The Celebration” count?

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