Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are remakes headed for the great movie graveyard?

Totally blindsided this afternoon to find out that I've won the Atlantis Award for Feature Screenplay at this year's Moondance Film Festival. Unlike some screenwriting festival, Moondance actually has an awards ceremony, which means I can fulfill my long-term wish to terrorise a captive audience with an acceptance speech. And get handed an actual award, that I can put on my mantlepiece/writing desk/top of the loo.

A friend I met in Austin a few years ago has kindly offered me accommodation - now all I have to do is figure out how to afford flights to Boulder, Colorado...

Another week, another remake has bombed in the U.S. This week it's time for Nikki Finke to dissect Conan (last week was the updated Fright Night). Now, the main excuse for doing remakes is surely that it's a tried and tested formula. Does this mean the wheels are coming off the remakes machine? Will they now abandon their whacked-out plans to try and re-do Dirty Dancing without Patrick Swayze?

Note to makers: I saw the DD stage show in London a few years ago with an entire theatre of crazed women. The incredibly hot guy playing Johnny could barely make it back to the stage to save Baby from the corner with all the female attention. He was a great dancer and note-perfect. Still wasn't Patrick Swayze.

Turns out Jason Momoa is no Arnie, either. And the original Fright Night was a small-time cult hit, so it's no surprise that the remake is hit or miss with audiences.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against all remakes. True Grit worked really well. If you get an old story and do a different spin on it, you get a fresh script that doesn't sound tired or familiar. But for every True Grit, there are unnecessary re-treads like Footloose or War Games.

The one thing that will stop the big studios from churning out remakes is not critical disapproval or online whining from fans. It's empty tills. The one thing that scares Hollywood, after all, is the prospect of empty theatre seats. If they can't sell tickets, the current batch of remakes may really be past their sell-by date.

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