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Reboots and remakes taking up Hollywood’s production line

According to The Telegraph and IMDB, Hollywood will be releasing close to 25 remakes and reboots in the next five years. Among the 25, the most prominent remakes are “Mary Poppins” (1964), “The Craft” (1996), “An American Werewolf in London” (1981), “Jumanji” (1995), “All Quiet on the Western Front” (1930), “The Crow” (1994) and “Memento” (2000). All of these movies captivated audiences in their time with their original and fresh ideas, and will now be recast, rewritten and redirected because their name as well as popularity guarantees profits.

How can this happen you might ask? Can there be anyone other than Julie Andrews to take on the role of Mary Poppins? How can you remake “All Quiet on the Western Front,” one of the most popular anti-war films? Or what about fresh films like “The Crow” and “Memento,” would they rot if they are remade?

The fact that remakes have making money as an end goal is criminal enough, but it is worst when the movie upsets the original fan base with a weak movie. One example of this is Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” (1998). This remake of Hitchcock’s classic was done shot by shot, but it didn’t manage to capture the essence of the film that paved the way for the horror genre. Van Sant himself has stated that this film was an experiment. He wanted to see what would happen if a different director directed someone else’s movie shot by shot. The failure of a literal copycat of a classic movie should have been enough warning for Hollywood to understand that remakes shouldn’t be their main source of income.

But because remakes such as “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (2008) made close to $200 million at the box office, and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” made about $475 million and “Planet of the Apes” (2001) earned $360 million and the first American adaptation of “Godzilla” (1998) made $380 million, production companies salivate over buying the rights to old movies to save time and risk on a new script. Hollywood seems to know nostalgia is a powerful sentiment that stirs the heart and wallet of movie-goers.

Despite the mixed feelings that a remake produces, there are members of the general audience that appreciate them and that look forward to them. Salvador Salcido, a digital media production UTEP graduate and owner of  Savior¬_Self.777 Productions, believes that remakes are worth a shot.

“I think remakes can be good when done right, meaning that if the remake can bring something new to the table, while also staying loyal to the original source material, it can do well,” Salcido said. “I don’t think remakes hurt Hollywood because they reintroduce classic movies to younger generations and, of course, generate revenue for the filmmaking business.”

In that case, it helps to ask, what is a good remake? Is there such a thing as a good remake? Admittedly, there are some remakes that garnered good reviews such as “3:10 to Yuma” (2007), “True Grit” (2010), “The Fly” (1986), “Scarface” (1983) and “The Thing” (1982) for instance.

Valeria Padilla, digital media production senior, believes that remakes can be good or significant when it relates to the time of its release.

“A good remake should imply the generational aspects by getting all the lessons of the original version,” Padilla said. 

Remakes should have the seed of the original in its DNA. If it’s going to have the same name and the same plot, then it must remain loyal to its predecessor. But even that is not enough. How is it that the original “Scarface” (1932) has been eclipsed by Brian De Palma’s 1983 masterpiece? Because De Palma took the original Italian Scarface and made him Cuban. He took the gang wars in the original and added it to the cocaine-fueled ‘80s and the Miami glamour.

Brian De Palma didn’t set out to create an exact replica of the original movie. He made a movie of its time that still stands.

Rocio Meza, a psychology major, thinks that the only remakes that work are those that add something new.

“Good remakes work because they were able to recreate or add something better,” Meza said. “A good example is ‘Cape Fear’ by Martin Scorsese because it had a good director who knew the material and two great actors with Robert DeNiro and Nick Nolte, and they could make it work. The thing that Scorsese did was add symbolism. The old movie was straight to the point, it was just a predator going after a family, but in Scorsese’s film the characters were flawed, there was a point to them being attacked. It’s a combination of the material and luck.”

There is an interesting correlation between remakes that have been considered good. They’re usually done by well-respected directors. “True Grit” (2010) was directed by the Coen brothers, known for their Oscar Best Picture winner “No Country For Old Men” and “Raising Arizona.” “The Fly” (1986) was directed by David Cronenberg, and “The Thing” (1982) was directed by John Carpenter, who was the famed director of the original “Halloween.” Carpenter’s remake outshined the original 1951 film, and like De Palma’s “Scarface,” it became a movie of its own. Good remakes tend to be good when they have visionary directors at the reins because they don’t deliver the same shots, instead they provide something new and at times more lasting.

Although there are remakes that exist that are significant, there are some that shouldn’t have made it past the idea pitch. This past October, Fox released cult film remake “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.” Although this was a television film, it still was a very poor presentation of the original.

“I’m still a little heartbroken over the ‘Rocky Horror Show’ remake,” said Antonio Baca, creative writing major. “It’s almost as terrible as Trump getting elected.”

Hollywood’s remakes not only speak to the ills of the movie industry, they also say something about this generation. Why is it that we are rehashing old stories? Why isn’t this generation creating new stories? “Star Wars” is back and it’s making a lot of money, but episode seven’s plot was a mirror image of the original 1977 “Star Wars.”

With new problems and new political issues, shouldn’t this generation create new heroes to admire and new villains to fear? New ideas should be allowed to take their place in the collective mindscape. Hollywood needs to give way to young creators. There might be another George Lucas out there that can’t get a producer to read his or her script.

“I think the biggest thing that needs to happen in Hollywood is a change in marketing,” Salcido said. “Often times, marketing determines what people will go see. Not all movies will be everyone’s cup of tea, but  audiences are generally attracted to what’s advertised to them.”

Hollywood will continue to pump out remakes as long as the fan bases of -original films will do one of two things: love it or cry out for its destruction. Both of which will draw attention to the movie, making this business of reboots and remakes such a difficult disease to cure.

Andres Gallegos may be reached at [email protected].

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Reboots and remakes taking up Hollywood’s production line