Thursday, 4 August 2011

"What Happened To Waiting 20 Years For Remakes?"

Last weekend, the cinemas of America were bursting with several fine films — Captain America and Harry Potter in the multiplexes, The Guard, The Future, Tabloid, Project Nim at the art houses — yet the big hit was The Smurfs, a CGI-enhanced big-screen version of the intolerable, one-joke cartoon series from the 1980s. The film has been a punch line for months, but when the receipts were tallied up, The Smurfs came within a hair of beating the weekend’s top grosser, Cowboys & Aliens, co-starring no less than James Bond and Han Solo.
Suddenly, the previous big question surrounding The Smurfs (“How the hell did that get made?”) has been replaced by a bigger one (“How the hell did that make so much money?”) and sadly, both questions have the same answer: the ’80s nostalgia factor. It is not a phenomenon confined to the singular occurrence of The Smurfs; my own visit to multiplex this weekend confirmed the existence, via trailers and posters, of similarly unnecessary and unwelcome remakes of artifacts like Conan the Barbarian, Footloose, and Fright Night.
Why are these films being made? Because the people who make movies (and even, increasingly, decide what movies are made) are getting younger and younger — young enough to have been children and teenagers in the 1980s, and to have fond memories of a show like The Smurfs and a film like Footloose, and if it was good then, it would be even better now, yes?
 -  Jason Bailey
As I put on the comments section:

The new Conan film isn't a remake any more than Captain America is a "remake" of the 1990s Matt Salinger film - or the Reb Brown tv movies, for that matter. Like Captain America, Conan has had a long following in books, comics and other media dating back to his first appearance in 1932, in "The Phoenix on the Sword" by Robert E. Howard. A new Conan film had been in development since the 1990s, but was only made into a film now because of constant fumbling and missteps by Warner Brothers. There were at least two occasions where development on a Conan film were getting pretty far along, before something or other (usually because Arnold chose to do a different film, or went into politics). To attribute Conan being made only now due to '80s nostalgia is to completely ignore the recent history of the film franchise.

In fact, this idea of Hollywood executives making films they're nostalgic for is nothing new in Hollywood. Why do you think so many black-and-white films like Ben-Hur and The Man Who Knew Too Much suddenly got colour films in the '50s and '60s? For the same reason that silent films were remade into talkies - and the same reason '80s films are being remade now - because Hollywood was never about originality. Remakes have been a fixture of Hollywood since the dawn of the business.

Don't believe me? Here are a list of remakes made before 1970, which were made ten years or less after the original. I'm not including adaptations, because the list would be preposterously huge otherwise. But it shows that this insane notion of Hollywood only now running out of original ideas is nothing short of... inaccurate.  (that's all I could think of saying.)

Hoodman Blind (1913) remade as Hoodman Blind (1923) - 10 years
The Golden Chance (1915) remade as Forbidden Fruit (1921) - 6 years
The Three Godfathers (1916) remade as Marked Men (1919) - 3 years
The Grocery Clerk (1919) remade as The Counter Jumper (1922) - 3 years
His Royal Slyness (1920) remade as Long Fliv the King (1926) - 6 years
Outside the Law (1920) remade as Outside the Law (1930) - 10 years
The Unknown Cavalier (1926) remade as Ride Him, Cowboy (1932) - 8 years
Duck Soup (1927) remade as Another Fine Mess (1930) - 3 years
Land Beyond the Law (1927) remade as The Big Stampede (1932) - 5 years
Love 'em and Weep (1927) remade as Chickens Come Home (1931) - 4 years
London After Midnight (1927) remade as Mark of the Vampire (1935) - 8 years
Seventh Heaven (1927) remade as Seventh Heaven (1937) - 10 years
Somewhere in Sonora (1927) remade as Somewhere in Sonora (1933) - 6 years
The Phantom City (1928) remade as Haunted Gold (1932) - 4 years
Lost Patrol (1929) remade as The Lost Patrol (1934) - 5 years
Teacher's Pet (1930) remade as Bored of Education (1936) - 6 years
The Dawn Patrol (1930) remade as The Dawn Patrol (1938) - 8 years
Range Feud (1931) remade as The Red Rider (1934) - 3 years
The Mayor of Hell (1933) remade as Crime School (1938) - 5 years
Penthouse (1933) remade as Society Lawyer (1939) - 6 years
The Life of Jimmy Dolan (1933) remade as They Made Me a Criminal (1939) - 6 years
Viktor und Viktoria (1933) remade as First a Girl (1935) - 2 years
Intermezzo (1936) remade as Intermezzo (1939) - 3 years
The Walking Dead (1936) remade as The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) - 3 years
Pépé le Moko (1937) remade as Algiers (1938) - 1 year(!)
Le Corbeau (1943) remade as The 13th Letter (1951) - 7 years
Van Gogh (1947) remade as Van Gogh (1948) - 1 year(!)
Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) remade as Missile to the Moon (1958) - 5 years
Seven Samurai (1954) remade as The Magnificent Seven (1960) - 6 years
Jigoku (1960) remade as Jigoku (1970) - 10 years
Yojimbo (1961) remade as A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - 3 years
Irma la Douce (1963) remade as Irma la Douce (1972) - 9 years

What about some modern examples of quick-turnaround remakes?

L.A. Takedown (1989) remade as Heat (1995)) - 6 years

... That's it.

But what about foreign-to-English Language remakes, which I'll expand to include modern times?

Castle of Blood (1964) remade as Web of the Spider (1971) - 7 years
Le Jouet (1976) remade as The Toy (1982) - 6 years
La Chèvre (1981) remade as Pure Luck (1991) - 10 years
Three Men And A Cradle (1985) remade as Three Men and a Baby (1987) - 2 years
Force Majeure (1989) remade as Return to Paradise (1998) - 9 years
La Femme Nikita (1990) remade as Point of No Return (1993) - 3 years
La Totale! (1991) remade as True Lies (1994) - 3 years
Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) remade as Tortilla Soup (2001) - 7 years
Nattevagten (1994) remade as Nightwatch (1997) - 3 years
Un indien dans la ville (1994) remade as Jungle 2 Jungle (1997) - 3 years
L'Appartement (1996) remade as Wicker Park (2004) - 8 years
Shall We Dansu? (1996) remade as Shall We Dance (2004) - 8 years
Taxi (1996) remade as Taxi (2004) - 8 years
Abre Los Ojos (1997) remade as Vanilla Sky (2001) - 4 years
Insomnia (1997) remade as Insomnia (2002) - 5 years
Ringu (1998) remade as The Ring (2002) - 4 years
Nueve Reinas (2000) remade as Criminal (2004) - 4 years
One Missed Call (2004) remade as One Missed Call (2007) - 3 years
Shutter (2004) remade as Shutter (2008) - 4 years
Il Mare (2000) remade as The Lake House (2006) - 6 years
L'ultimo bacio (2001) remade as The Last Kiss (2006) - 5 years
Mostly Martha (2001) remade as No Reservations (2007) - 6 years
Infernal Affairs (2002) remade as The Departed (2006) - 4 years
The Eye (2002) remade as The Eye (2008) - 6 years
Klatretøsen (2002) remade as Catch That Kid (2004) - 2 years
Interview (2003 film) remade as Interview (2007 film) - 4 years
Ju-on: The Grudge (2003) remade as The Grudge (2004) - 1 years
Brødre (2004) to Brothers (2009) - 5 years
Sigaw (2004) to The Echo (2008) - 4 years
Anthony Zimmer (2005) remade as The Tourist (2010) - 5 years
# 13 (2010) from 13 Tzameti (2005) - 5 years
[REC] (2007) remade as Quarantine (2008) - 3 years
LOL (Laughing Out Loud) (2008) remade as LOL: Laughing Out Loud (2011) - 3 years
Anything for Her (2008) remade as The Next Three Days (2010) - 2 years

So next time someone complains about a remake of Krull or The Breakfast Club as another example of Hollywood running out of ideas, remember - this is nothing new. Stop acting as if it is.


  1. can every production of shakespeare the last 400 or so years or so be considered 'remakes' too? or any broadway show that comes and goes? great stories will always be retold in some way or another since the time stories were told orally , to the written word to the filmed spectacle, some will go good others not so good. with conan never forget in your life no matter how any version of the character or stories go in any medium the next 100 years or so, we all had the privelige of reading the original tales and knowing something in it's root.happy viewing!-mario

  2. I'd just like to say that while I wasn't exactly chomping at the bit for a Smurfs movie, the real problem with the Smurfs movie is that the filmmakers decided the best strategy would be to have the Smurfs travel to live action, modern day New York rather than trying to be respectful to the original stories by Peyo. My wife still has a lot of love for the Smurfs and she was aghast at the film trailers.

  3. "So next time someone complains about a remake of Krull or The Breakfast Club as another example of Hollywood running out of ideas, remember - this is nothing new. Stop acting as if it is."

    Thank you! And thank you for doing the footwork on the lists--I too an tired of the whining. Especially since it often comes from self-proclaimed cinemaphiles.

  4. Just as "The smurfs" is not a remake or "Teenage mutant ninja turtles" is not a remake Conan is little more than a souless cash-in on nostalgia. Its got nothing to do with Robert E. Howard or any of that other gibber jabber Mr.Momoa and co. like to robotically spout in interviews. When answering a fan question he could not even name his favourite Conan story. He did not even throw out a title to give the impression he had even read one.Make no mistake...
    Its still Hollywood and all about young gorgeous models going places on your cinema ticket.
    As if the '80s weren't depressing enough they have to have a 21st century rebooted makeover for those who missed it.

  5. Hang on..they remade "Duck soup"? Sacrilege.

  6. Wasn't the Humphrey Bogart version of "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) the third time that movie was filmed? The first version was filmed in 1931. A second entitled "Satan Met a Lady" changed the names of the characters and had a great deal of added comedy. From what I understand, Warner Brothers had to remake the film because the censors in the Hays Office wouldn't allow the 1931 version to be re-released due to lewd content.

  7. I think the re-make problem has only become a problem thanks to the invention of personal home video.

    Yes, lots of Silent-era and early Talky pictures were re-made.. but unless you were extremely wealthy you wouldn't own copies of these films to re-watch when you liked. They came to theater, you either saw them or not, and when they left, barring a re-release you likely would never get to see them again.

    Now though, you can own thousands of films, and watch them whenever you like.. so why if Red Dawn/Conan/whatever is on dvd and I can watch it whenever I like.. does it need be re-made?

    One of the key things is, that a film like Captain America, or Conan, isn't a remake, its simply another adaption of the source material.

  8. Lots of great movies made outside of America get an American, "more intense" version (Note how I dont say the US version mostly lack in every detail that made the original so great). Nikita and Abre los ojos, being great examples, and I remeber the whole wave of Japanese horror turnes american some 10 years ago. Those "remakes" mostly get done within a few years to ride a moviemaking trend or even to ride the originals succses, so the short years between original and remake is not so strange here.

    I guess those movies are remakes, but somehow, when I think remakes, I think modern versions of old classics from atleast 30 years ago.
    And I suspect lots of the movies on the list are remakes in the sense of "US-version".

  9. steve dilks:Its got nothing to do with Robert E. Howard or any of that other gibber jabber Mr.Momoa and co. like to robotically spout in interviews. When answering a fan question he could not even name his favourite Conan story. He did not even throw out a title to give the impression he had even read one.

    oh oh is that true? then why they lie to the fans?


  10. It's a shame to see such prejudice towards Conan. Some second rate, but financially succesful, books about a kid wizard are considered more respectable (because they earned an annual billion for WB)... a comic book character, dressed up in tights coloured after a flag, originally created as a propaganda tool, is considered more respectable... yet... it's not even worth mentioning that Conan is a character created by REH and not Arnold Schwarzenegger? Since when is Conan (the character, not the movie) a part of 80s culture?


  11. The point that nobody say in any place is that those remakes from the 1910's to the 1970's WERE NOT that famous nor that familiar with the audiences of those times since THERE WAS NOT HOME VIDEO back then!!!! And since it's so easy to get now a DVD from the original "Fright Night" or "Total Recall" in any DVD store -not to mention on the web-, remaking famous movies from the early 1980's (the start of the home video era) to the 1990's makes this remake trend a totally unnecesary and senseless thing...!

  12. Honestly, so long as its better then the original, there's nohting is he slightest bit wrong in remaking a film. Such as "LA Takedown" which not even memorable--or that matter- even played on TV, but it had the potential of being a great movie if done right. That's why Michael Mann remade it AGAIN only with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.

  13. Would you consider The Incredible Hulk (2008) a remake of Hulk (2003)? How about Punisher: War Zone (2008) and The Punisher (2004)? I think Marvel Studios considers them reboots. Not sure if they are considered remakes? I'm sure there are other modern examples of quick-turnaround remakes.

  14. >Hang on..they remade "Duck soup"? Sacrilege.

    Steve - wrong Duck Soup (Marx Bros). Laurel & Hardy made one called 'Duck Soup' and then they later remade it as 'Another Fine Mess'.

    This article's author is like Hamsterball gone haywire with accurate criteria of remakes. It's like he'd consider all of the Hope + Crosby "Road To" movies as remakes since they follow the same basic plot.

  15. My problem with your list is a lot of them are remakes but done either by the same director/actors or as a language port (Yojimbo - Fistful of Dollars.. funny how you left out Last Man Standing.) tho some of those are remakes by hacks who want to put their name on someone else's good story *cough*Cameron Crowe*cough*Vanilla Sky*cough*. Hey, he even admitted it on an interview "It was such a great story, and I wanted to be part of it."

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  17. Indeed the new Conan film isn't a remake any more than Captain America is a "remake" of the 1990s Matt Salinger film, but I would propose the idea that it is still, nevertheless, a remake. Simply because they are making the film again. The concept that it is merely another interpretative adaptation does not negate the "remake" label - they've made a film based on the same source material, the film is remade whether it resembles the original film or not. It is remade with a different vision and because the source material is outside the cinematic medium, the remake wouldn't have to draw upon the original film at all. There is an idea that remake means replicate, which is probably why we have that hideous term "reboot".

    Just an idea :)