To remake or not to remake? The business of rebooting old films
Remakes. They’re everywhere. They’re a constant and no intellectual property is safe. Robocop, Dirty Dancing, Total Recall, Mad Max, even Hitchcock’s The Birds hasn’t escaped the talons of the remake or reboot.
As a film buff, I pitch my tent firmly in the camp of fans who see their much-loved movies as sacred ground. After all, did Spiderman honestly need a reboot just five years after its last sequel?
And will it really be Total Recall without Arnie, or Mad Max without Mel?
As a producer, though, I can totally see why these sorts of remakes, generally of cult classics, are rife. They simply make good business sense: find an intellectual property that could do with some ‘rejuvenation’, plug in the original fanbase and hey presto. You have an instant tent-pole movie.
But there’s a third perspective that isn’t often considered by the fans – that of the creators of the original intellectual property. In a very fickle business, creators of intellectual property probably should be looking for every single way to make the most out of their stories with a view to ensuring they can continue telling more.
For the creators, remakes can only be a win-win situation.
If the resulting remake is terrible (and let’s face it – this is a common occurrence), then it only makes the original look better, garnering more respect from the audience and likely finding a whole new set of fans along the way thanks to a new shiny marketing campaign.
If the resulting remake is hugely successful, again, the star of the original rises and given common deal structures, so does the size of the cheque that makes its way back to the creators.
Either way, it seems the original wins out.
Rather than live in fear of the ‘evil Hollywood remake’ perhaps creators of original content should be embracing the possibility with open arms.
Regardless of the quality of the resulting film, the whole exercise of remaking a film can only present the original in a positive light making it more valuable.
It’s often said there’s no prize for second place but a cheque seems like ample consolation to me.
Enzo Tedeschi is a co-founder of Distracted Media and producer of The Tunnel as well as web series Event Zero.
- This article first appeared in Encore magazine. Download the iPad edition, now free.