The Hollywood remake is now a staple of cinema, with what feels like remake after remake of popular films finding another lease on life decades after the original had already come and gone. Most cinema fans feel Hollywood has run out of ideas. However, remakes have been a part of cinema for a long time.
Dr. Matthew Jones, Film Studies lecturer at De Montfort University in Leicester, in an interview with Cosmopolitan spoke about the remake’s connection to Western cinema saying, “Remake and reboot culture is not new…there is actually a rich tradition of remakes in Western film culture that runs back to the earliest days of cinema (arguably as far back as 1896).”
Remakes are a safe zone for production companies. They know these films are guaranteed to bring people back time and again for nostalgic purposes, the interest is already established and it won’t take studios much to catch the attention of audiences because the fan base is already invested.
Due to this, producers are more inclined to continue producing remakes, as it is guaranteed to generate revenue. Producer Gavin Polone in a 2011 article for Vulture wrote, “When a studio, remakes one of its own forgotten or fading films, it implicitly boosts its value, which then, in turn, helps boost the studio’s total worth.”
According to Dr. Jones, this is a secure option for studios. He uses the term ‘pre-sold property’ to describe films that already have a built-in audience, which production companies feel is a guarantee for people to go see the film. Polone adds, that most film executives use terms like content, brands, and franchises when talking about potential film projects.
However, this does not mean that original films are not being made, it just takes a lot more convincing for big studios to take a chance on producing an original property.
Take the now-popular Netflix series Squid Games, for example, it was reported to have taken its creator Hwang Dong-hyuk 10 years to make due to several production studios being unwilling to risk losing revenue on its production.
Although according to an article by Chioma Azeh an editor and industry analyst at InMyArea.com (IMA) remakes might not be as successful in earning revenue as the original films. Azeh said, “IMA Research studied 27 remakes released since 2014 and found that nearly two-thirds made less money than their original film and nearly all had worse reviews from both critics and audiences.”
This shows that not all remakes make as much money then the originals they are based on, so why do producers continue to make them? The answer they profit from reboots and remakes.
The fact that original films can be a huge success does not sway production companies from sticking with the sure thing. A Star Is Born has been remade three times after the original in 1937 with its most recent remake in 2018 grossing over $436 million worldwide at the box office.
Other remakes include Godzilla, which has had many remakes since Ishiro Honda’s classic in 1954, with its two Hollywood remakes one in 1998 and the other in 2014 grossing $136.3 million and $200.6 million respectively.
Moreover, Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film The Departed was a remake based on the 2002 Hong Kong original Internal Affairs, which generated multiple sequels and critical acclaim. Although Martins Scorsese’s The Departed would go on to win an Oscar for best picture and grossed over $132 million.
Although remakes are not going anywhere soon and are often a safe bet for production studios to make money, this does not mean it is the end of original films, with studios like Netflix and other streaming sites introducing the world to alternative cinema and original stories.
This gives audiences something new to connect with and maybe gives Hollywood the push to take the chance on producing more original films than just recreating originals that work for them before.
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