Why remakes are destroying franchises

robocopThis might paint me as somewhat of a hypocrite, but while I love sequels — even soul-destroying, awful, have-no-connection-to-the-previous-films sequels — I am really starting to hate remakes.  Like, they make my eye twitch and my hand ball into a fist involuntarily whenever I think about them.

I think the breaking point was when I was watching the sorta-remake-sorta-sequel of Evil Dead, realizing that from then on, that’s the movie that the current generation would associate with the words “Evil Dead” without knowledge that there’s an awesome cult series that came well before that.  The same will probably happen with the recent RoboCop reboot.  And that’s unacceptable to me.

You see, at least from my perspective, the insidious nature of a remake is that it effectively wipes out what came before it.  It’s a redo that co-opts the name, the franchise, and the attention.  It rewrites movie history for our goldfish-addled attention spans.

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Sure, some remakes are terrific, such as Ocean’s 11, but even in that case, what I just wrote panned out.  Very few people are even cognizant that there was an “original” Ocean’s 11, because newer and shinier gets our attention.  It probably helped the remake that it was far superior too, but that’s not often the case.  Even though I really liked the reboot of Star Trek, I have to concede that the damage it’s done to Trek — especially the question of Trek’s future projects — is quite immense.

Maybe my pain comes from a sad epiphany that the next generation of movie lovers won’t be appreciating the same films we will.  When you mention Karate Kid to them, they’ll be thinking of Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s kid, not Mr. Miyagi and “wax on, wax off” and Cobra Kai.  When you say “Dirty Dancing,” you certainly aren’t going to be evoking Baby in the corner but some lame Cuban samba thing.  Friday the 13th, Halloween, and Nightmare on Elm Street have all been dragged through the muck of the remake process, single-handedly smacking those franchises to the ground and wiping away any possibility that a new generation would come to like these movies.

I guess what cheeses me off is that so many remakes aren’t of bad films that had a gem of a good idea that needed to be revisited, but perfectly awesome and beloved movies that were yanked by unimaginative Hollywood suits for recycling.  The destruction and damage that these movies cause will be felt long after the box office receipts go away.

So if you want to extend a franchise with a sequel, fine, please do so.  Even a prequel is acceptable under some circumstances.  But stop thinking that you can just draw in audience bucks by keeping the name but erasing all that is good and recognizable from these movies with a ham-handed remake.  Just stop it.  Please.

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4 Comments

  1. I’m not sure I’d call 2008 Star Trek a remake so much as a reboot. That’s a bit of semantics, perhaps, but they weren’t really redoing any of the previous movies so much as redoing the whole universe. They certainly weren’t recreating the V’Ger story (thankfully)… though the line is certainly blurrier when it comes to Wrath of Cumberbatch. I’m with you on disliking remakes, though, and I think they should have just done a new Star Trek story. Leave Kirk and Spock alone. There are plenty of characters to use from the novels, if they don’t want to try anything original.

    I think that’s the crux of it. Studios with tight purse strings don’t like risk. So far, they can bank on nostalgia and IP familiarity to alleviate that risk somewhat, so it only makes sense from a financial standpoint to do so. The art suffers, as it almost always does when money is the driver, but that’s sort of inevitable with how much movies cost to make.

    • I usually call it Star Trek II: Into Benedict Cumberbatch, but I like Wrath of Cumberbatch. I’m just Wondering what they are going to do with Star Trek III: The search for Genesis. I would assume it involves the vulcans making a Genesis Device to make a NEW new Vulcan, because old new Vulcan isn’t as cool as Old Vulcan, and the Klingons, specifically Kruge, want to weaponize it.

  2. While I do certainly agree with you that many, many remakes are UNNECESSARY (I mean, does anyone still remember the newer ‘Manchurian Candidate’, for example?), regarding them replacing the originals, I’m not sure I really agree. To start with, modern-day internet culture thrives on ‘old VS new’ debates, so there’ll always be SOMEONE – probably lots of someones – digging up the originals so they can see for themselves. For another, many of the films that get remade these days – the new RoboCop, for instance – are already acknowledged classics that have built up their own, multi-generational fanbases, which carry with them innumerable in-jokes, memes, quotes, references, etc. These things don’t just go away, and whether or not the new versions succeed, they’ll have done so by standing on the originals’ shoulders, something which I doubt anyone can be fully unaware of. Even if the new ones are PREFERRED by some of the next generation of whippersnappers, they’ve got to acknowledge that they’re based on classics.

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