Unfortunately, more of the same

What? A new, original idea? That's crazy talk!
What? A new, original idea? We don’t know if our brains can take it!

“Don’t remake good movies. Remake bad movies and improve them.” – John Huston

As a writer and fan of original material, it’s quite disturbing how many remakes and reboots keep appearing or are announced, with no sign of it coming to an end.

Sadly, this is how the industry works, with most of the studios afraid to take a chance on something new and original, as opposed to something that’s already proven itself.

But apart from a few exceptions, how many of those trips back to the well have been successful?  On top of that, there’s no avoiding a comparison to the original, with the remake usually found lacking.

Putting this in perspective – I’m a huge fan of the original ROBOCOP, which will have a remake released in February. I have no desire to see it because the trailer doesn’t make it look that interesting, and I don’t see the point in remaking it in the first place.

Counter to that, the forthcoming GODZILLA remake/reboot looks great because it appears to be a smart, new approach to the story, and definitely feels like a significant improvement over the one from 1998. I really hope it doesn’t fall victim to PACIFIC RIM syndrome – big build-up, followed by big letdown.

Now they’re announcing Ed Helms as Frank Drebin in a reboot of THE NAKED GUN. Have they no shame? Apparently not.

The movie-going public wants, no, craves new stories.  Look at The Black List, or the latest batch of Nicholl finalists. This is high-quality stuff, people. Just about any one of them would make for a great film.

There’s a ton of fantastic original material out there, but all we can do as writers is keep writing and hope somebody believes in it enough to drum up the courage to do something with it.

5 thoughts on “Unfortunately, more of the same

  1. There’s more originality in television these days, something I thought I would never say, than in the cinemas. The studios play it safe because they want foreign sales, so stories have to be simple and flashy and toe the line in not offending other countries (hence the amount of aliens and North Korean villains we now have). About a decade ago I think Tarrantino said that for every ten films released, nine are crap; now I think it’s one out of twenty.

    • And movies are often geared towards the lowest common denominator, whereas TV is a niche kind of format – especially as better programs are done on cable channels, which aren’t as concerned with ratings.

  2. I wonder if the Globe’s season ticket-holders rolled their eyes when Shakespeare announced he’d throw his own version of King Lear to the already massive pile of tellings. Or if fans of Sophocles were divided. “He’s writing Oedipus 3? The guy just can’t come up with anything original.”

  3. A couple of years ago, I read this book: “The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies” by Edward Epstein. When I was in film school (about a billion years ago), I wished this book had been written. Epstein really breaks down why certain movies are made and others…well, aren’t.

    Part of the reason why we see so many remakes and movies based on comic books is because teenage boys in the U.S. are by far the largest group who go to the movies every week. Hollywood is just giving their best customers what they want…

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