Or is it?
I find myself, like many cinephiles, gasping in horror with the announcement of yet another film I love green lit for a remake/reboot. The question I ponder each and every time, is it really an issue? Or has the film industry truly run out of original ideas?
Yes, sometimes the remake is an absolute abomination. Every one of us can name several. Personally having recently watched Conan on Blu Ray (I missed that little gem at the cinema) in my humble opinion it should never have been remade. Or should it? So it happens to have the same name, so what. The point I have concluded, is that if it was released under another name, the film may have done better because the die hard fans of the original would not know the difference until afterwards. Possibly it may even receive a different fan base. What the studios are trying to cash in on, understandably, a little misguided maybe, is the original fan base are going to see the remake just because it is using the same name. Which can work but more often than not destroys it. it seems to me as though this ideal truly is a double edged sword.
Take a look at the recent reboot of Ghostbusters, the original 1984 being my favourite film of all time. It was dead on its feet before it really even left the starting blocks. As soon as the film was announced and it was not the original cast in fact all women, blasphemy. The furore was unbelievable and simply unjust. It could have garnered a whole new fan base but instead the bad press destroyed it. However I think people who are now seeing it on television for the first time, the younger film enthusiasts who do not have childhood memories of the original, they are now are beginning to realise what a fun and quirky film it is. I adore the original; however I really enjoyed the reboot with the new cast. I loved the chemistry between the girls, Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig's on screen chemistry was the grounding of the film but Kate McKinnon's character was outstanding. Plus Leslie Jones' character was everything Ernie Hudson’s should have been. Sigourney Weaver’s cameo was inspired, frankly I wish Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd hadn't bothered.
I believe a remake is a timescale issue more often than not. The problem we have as an audience or misunderstanding; is that sometimes the film we reminisce about is already a remake, shock horror! Sorry to burst your bubble film fans but if you delve back in history, you may just find it was a foreign film or been made years previous. The Magnificent Seven (1960) was a remake of Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai 1954) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980), was based on the previous two but set in space. We view them as different entities because they have different names.
Problem: I personally believe the problem with re-makes is the studios should avoid using the same name totally. For example, look at the Total Recall remake (which originally prompted this page), and the Arnie romp against Farrell's action paced visual. Viewed as separate entities they pretty much are two entirely different films. Some of the set pieces in the Colin Farrell vehicle for me are absolutely stunning. If the studio had called it Recall and suggested it played homage to Total Recall, or better still closer to the original short story by Philip K Dick as intended, maybe it would not have garnered the backlash I have seen from irate Schwarzenegger fans.
My final point is that you also have to factor in how future generations will take to a film and to make sure enough of a gap is left between them. Spiderman is a case in point. The timescales between reboots are getting too short and the way it is treated is far too similar. Batman however did the reverse. A film that I liked which used a different name yet paid homage to the original was Steven Spielberg’s Disturbia, against Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Finally if Mark Wahlberg's Italian Job had been named differently, instead using the line with a nod to the Italian Job as they did, I think the film would have been received completely differently. I think some truly iconic films should just be left alone.
Conclusion: So please remember, sometimes the film we reminisce about as being ruined is not as original as we thought. The film we adore is actually a remake and for that, maybe a new film needs to be given a little slack. Let it stand on its own merit and take a stand to be counted, or not.
While I was brushing up on the dates of the mentioned remakes above, I was surprised to discover some of my favourite films I believed to be original and unique, were in fact remakes. I shall list a few that shocked even me: