I suppose I should start this blog with a word or two of introduction, as this is my first blog for CHUD. But I’ve always said introductions are vastly over-rated. Let’s move forward.
Of course, forward momentum cannot be made without a starting point. What better starting point than the past? I have been accosted as of late by the vast number of remakes Hollywood is churning up and spitting out. I must admit, I am somewhat torn as to my feelings on the subject. On one hand, I do enjoy seeing a new take on old classics. But on the other hand, I question the motives of productions houses. Now, let me make it clear that I completely understand the need for businesses to turn a profit. If production houses didn’t have income, they wouldn’t exist. But when it comes to the projects that are accepted and green-lit for the cinema, I really have trouble following the decision-making process.
Let’s set up a hypothetical situation in an attempt to better understand this. For the sake of the argument, we are the heads of a production house. Two script proposals are delivered by currier to our desks. Script A is a remake of a classic movie that was amazingly well-received two decades ago. It didn’t bring in record box office returns, but it made an impact. This new version is a “re-booting” of the movie, not a sequel. It’s chock full of new takes on the classic scenes, but has plenty of nods to the original film. Script B is a fresh concept from a new writer who has already developed a good reputation in the industry. We can only fund one of these movies. Which do we choose? Putting aside personal preference, let’s try to predict which movie will do better in the long run.
Movie A already has a fan base. It already has a genre to fall into. It already has a place to live on the shelves of the local video store when it hits DVD. People know the basic concept when they hear the title. Promotion for the movie will consist of highlighting the differences between the old version and the new version. Movie B is unknown. It may have a genre that it fits into, but who knows how it’s going to be received. We will have to catch people’s attention for this movie, so promotion will have to make the movie stand out from everything else on the market. So which do we choose?
Unfortunately, it’s at this point that most production companies get those big cartoon dollar signs in their eyes and latch onto Movie A with a death grip. Once the scent of profit is in the air, all creative drive is thrown away like yesterday’s sushi. This is what I don’t understand. At what point did the entertainment industry become a profit machine? When did cookie-cutter scripts, character archetypes, and identical action sequences take over? What happened to innovation? Where did all the cowboys go…if we can use cowboys as a reference for creative writers that sought to bring a sense of newness and adventure to the public.
If we can compare the entertainment industry to the life of a human, I think it is somewhere in its teen years. It has developed immensely from its younger days, and it has learned from some of its mistakes. It is trying to create an identity for itself, but it’s too scared to be different from its friends. So it shops at all the same stores, wears all the same clothes, and throws temper tantrums when we point out how similar it is to everyone else. We put up with its issues with the hope that it’ll grow out of this phase soon, and we clear the road when it gets its learner’s permit.
In all honesty, however, the fault lies not with production companies, but with the viewing public. We use our money to vote on what we want companies to produce in the future. When remakes draw a profit, more of them will be made. So let me wrap up this first blog with a fortune-cookie-sized nugget of advice for all of us: develop taste and watch new movies! Don’t stick with the safe bet, take a risk and see something outside of your viewing preference! If we don’t take action, remakes will become the norm. Sure, there are lots of horror, action, and comedies to remake first. But soon those will run out and one of two things will happen. Either we will get stuck with remakes of remakes, or someone will start writing scripts for remakes of ‘80s movies.
And so help me God, if I see a remake of 16 Candles hit the big screen in my lifetime, I will go on a killing rampage.