Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hollywood's Old Shoe

Even though this summer's movie season is just barely underway, it's never too early to look ahead to next year. In fact, I'm convinced that many of the movie publications out there, including some legitimate ones like Entertainment Weekly, are too obsessed with what's coming in the future. There are two reasons for this. First, the hype feeds the machine that is Hollywood's current business model. It's all about the opening weekend. Sometimes sequels get the green light based solely on a good opening weekend. Second, when nobody has seen a particular movie, there's still a chance that it could be the greatest movie ever. In other words, when a movie is still just an idea, Hollywood hasn't had a chance to ruin it yet. This couldn't be more true when it comes to remakes. Janet Maslin of the New York Times summed it up best:
"Can there be too much of a good thing? For some movie makers, the answer is clearly no. Every so often, one of them is tempted to tinker with success by remaking an esteemed or popular old movie. Sometimes the remake is a labor of love, and sometimes it's an exercise in commerce. Sometimes the endeavor is a homage to the earlier film or its director. Sometimes there is an effort to update an old story. Sometimes the idea is to apply new techniques—color and wide-screen—to a film that once unfolded in black and white on a small screen. And sometimes the remake is pervaded by a challenge—to take the old movie and make it bigger, better, gaudier than before. Hitchcock even remade Hitchcock. The master of suspense made The Man Who Knew Too Much in England in 1934 with Leslie Banks, Edna Best and Peter Lorre. And he did it again in the United States in 1956 with James Stewart, Doris Day and Bernard Miles. As is often the case, there are those who love the first, loathe the second."

So in a effort to do my part to feed hype to the machine, here are some examples of remakes that are somewhere in the development pipeline. Hitchcock set a dangerous precedent by remaking Hitchcock because now it seems everyone wants to remake Hitchcock as well. We've already seen Psycho, A Perfect Murder (a remake of Dial M for Murder) and several remakes of Rear Window (the latest being Disturbia), but on the way are The Birds, The 39 Steps and Strangers on a Train. Hitchcock isn't the only master to get a makeover. Other notable movie remakes you can hope to see soon include Kiki's Delivery Service, Labyrinth (this time with Hillary Swank instead of Jennifer Connelly), The Topkapi Affair (a remake of Topkapi which earned Peter Ustinov* an Oscar, and which will serve as a sequel to The Thomas Crown Affair which is itself a remake), The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and two movies that could sure use an upgrade in the special effects: Clash of the Titans and Logan's Run (the latter of which actually received a Special Achievement Oscar for its visual effects the year before Star Wars came out).

Of course, what would a list of upcoming remakes be without the obligatory recycled horror movies. Coming soon are Creepshow, Halloween, Hellraiser, Piranha and The Fly.

Don't forget the TV shows that will be butchered—I mean adapted—for the big screen. In the past the good ones have been The Fugitive, The Addams Family and... I can't come up with any more, but I'm sure there are some. The list of bad adaptations are too long to list, the most recent ones being Starsky & Hutch, The Dukes of Hazzard and Miami Vice. Let's just say I don't have high hopes for the ones I'm listing here except perhaps Get Smart with Steve Carrell as Maxwell Smart and a supporting cast that includes Anne Hathaway, Alan Arkin, Terence Stamp and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. The rest are CHiPs (with Wilmer Valderrama, aka Fez from That 70's Show, as Ponch), Dallas (with John Travolta as JR), I Dream of Jeannie (with Jimmy Fallon as Major Nelson), Knight Rider and The A-Team. And don't forget this summer's The Simpsons Movie.

As for kids' cartoons making it to movie form as either cartoon, CGI or live-action, we have The Jetsons, The Smurfs, Voltron and this summer's Transformers and Underdog.

Following the Success of The Departed (a remake of Hong Kong's Infernal Affairs), expect a slew of other Asian movies being remade for US audiences. And, speaking of imports, TV will also be dabbling in foreign remakes. Popular British shows Life on Mars (about a cop trapped in the 1970's) and Footballer's Wives (changed from soccer to American football and renamed Football Wives) will be remade like The Office was. They will join The Bionic Woman as new shows next season based on other shows.

* The late Peter Ustinov was an accomplished actor who is probably best known to my generation as the voice of Prince John in Disney's Robin Hood. My favorite quote of his is "I believe that the Jews have made a contribution to the human condition out of all proportion to their numbers: I believe them to be an immense people. Not only have they supplied the world with two leaders of the stature of Jesus Christ and Karl Marx, but they have even indulged in the luxury of following neither one nor the other."

1 comment:

Eric said...

I would like it better if Wilmer Valderrama played JR and John Travolta played Ponch.