*Originally posted on MyIGN Blog on February 7th, 2015
In the past fifteen years or so, we’ve seen a groundswell of projects retool old films or television shows in order to make an entirely “new” product.
Now with the recent news of the all-female Ghostbusters remake, and the reboot of the Terminator timeline in Terminator Genisys [(sp?)], I figured it was time to discuss how remakes are not a new concept, how some remakes can even be better than the original, and how important remakes are in Hollywood.
What many of you may not know is that the act of a remake is nothing new. Movies have been remade almost since they’ve existed. In the past, movies were remade years after the original.
One of the earliest examples is the 1914 film called The Squaw Man directed by Cecil B. De Mille. Released in the first year of The Great War (World War I).
Then in just four years, De Mille decided to remake it in 1918, at the end of The Great War.
Then if that were bad enough, he decided to remake it again in 1931, the third time in seventeen years.
While this may be the first example of a remake (and of a re-remake), this isn’t the most popular.
The Wizard of Oz is a fine piece of storytelling, heralded as one of the best films of all time, and was often a perennial classic for many who grew up with CBS.
It’s been reimagined many times throughout the years…
But nothing’s better than the original, right?
You’re right, the best one is the original…. 1925 Wizard of Oz.
Or how many are familiar with the animated short film made in 1933?
Remakes can make things better in some cases or at least resonant with more people than a previous version, thereby increasing the film series’ notoriety, keeping the franchise alive.
See back then, people didn’t care about remakes because the originals were hard to come by. It’s not like these days where nearly any film ever is almost within arms reach. People were excited to see their favorite films updated with modern technology, especially in a big, bright setting such as a cinema.
But remakes are something of a safe choice for Hollywood these days. As films become more and more expensive to produce, lots of studios look to The Three Rs as an easier chance to break even. Remakes are sometimes seen as a “sure thing” in executive meetings, but we the audience know better.
We have a penchant for feeling when someone tasked to create a Three R truly believes in the source material and was themselves a fan of the original. That’s why when Phil Lord and Chris Miller were at one point circling the remake of the Ghostbusters, people were a little more relieved about the concept in general.
These guys have proved time and time again that they are capable of faithfully adapting the properties they tackle insofar the spirit these properties evoke.
Whether it’s the child-like creativity The Lego Movie evoked, or the parody of The Three Rs in 21 Jump Street, they nail it, while still paying homage to the source material.
So in short, remakes are not always a bad thing. They’re nothing new, they can propel the original to a higher level of reverence, and even can be done right, because let’s face it: they aren’t going away anytime soon.
The most important thing is to help steer the arc of these Three Rs by voting with your wallet. If a project reboot feels like a cash grab, don’t go see it.
But if you do believe like I do, that the creator of Freaks and Geeks and Bridesmaids, Paul Feig, can properly guide this franchise in a satisfying direction while paying homage to the original, then go see it when it hits theaters next year.
I’ll be there.