Classic movies are largely appreciated since they hit the box offices during their time period. Filmmakers put out their movies with the hope that it will draw audiences to theaters.
Classics like Disney’s “The Lion King,” “Footloose,” “Ghostbusters” and “Nightmare on Elm Street” captured audiences’ attention when they were released. However, they were unfortunately subjected to remakes that have done injustice to the original material.
Drew Taylor of IndieWire listed Samuel Bayer’s 2010 remake of Wes Craven’s “Nightmare on Elm Street” as one of the worst remakes of the horror franchise. With better development on CGI, the remake should’ve gone beyond what the original source laid the groundwork for, right?
“The dream sequences lack visual splendor, the script is humorless and dull, and most damningly, it isn’t scary at all,” Taylor said. “In fact, it was a total snooze.”
If remakes are done right, they can bring new ideas to the original franchise. Yet, if they are done poorly, they can easily miss the magic that the original movie brought to audiences.
Established film data researcher and award-winning writer Stephen Follows said Hollywood is constantly searching for “new ideas” with different options to bring new life into an old franchise for a new generation of fans.
• Direct Sequels – Carrying on as if the old film series has never stopped, such as “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” and “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.”
• “Years Later” sequel – Recognizing that time has passed and handing over the baton to a new generation of characters, such as “Tron: Legacy” and “Herbie Fully Loaded.”
• Remake – Telling the same story as previous film but maybe updating technology props like Walkmans for iPods, such as “You’ve Got Mail” and “Ocean’s Eleven.”
• Reboot – Throwing out all the existing continuity and re-imagining the characters and world, such as “Batman Begins” and “Casino Royale.”
• Remake in name only – Taking a successful film and copying some of the surface elements while re-writing the characters and world, such as “The Italian Job.”
If there is a dedicated audience for a particular film franchise, they will spend the money based on the nostalgia factor that Hollywood is marketing towards them.
FiveThirtyEight’s pop culture expert Walt Hickey told ABC News in an interview that film studios and production companies use risk aversion to bank on success from remakes.
“Recently the industry has seen a solid string of success born out of rebooting or upgrading content from the past,” Hickey said. “This is a risk-adverse strategy. You bank on content where people already have a sense of the characters, they have a sense of what the plot is, what the story is.”
Film studios and production companies are wise to bank on the nostalgia factor while trying to generate a new audience for the same film franchise with these reboots, but it’s a gamble towards audiences’ unpredictable attitude towards remakes.
In a recent poll by Statista, 55% prefer remakes to be as close to the original as possible, even if it contains stereotypes or plotlines some people find offensive, while 22% believe they should change with the times and try to remove stereotypes and plotlines that might offend people.
It defeats the purpose of remakes to breathe new life into the original material if audiences want it exactly the same as the original. Like “Nightmare on Elm Street,” some films are better left undisturbed and respected as a classic.
Hickey told ABC News that if you want to see original movies, it’s best not to go to ones during the summer.
“If you want original stuff in the cinema, wait till the fall. If you want it in the summer, buy a book, go to HBO,” Hickey said. “You’re not going to find it the cinema.”
We want new original material from major studios. However, with Hollywood using nostalgia to bait us into the theaters to make them box office successes, it will never happen.