Wheels Fall Off Hollywood's Remake Bandwagon

Guess everybody didn’t want to cut ‘Footloose’ this weekend after all.

The much ballyhooed remake came in a close second to ‘Real Steel’ at the box office, with a “prequel” to the 1982 horror hit ‘The Thing’ trailing behind in third place.

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Will that stop – or even slow down – the number of remakes getting greenlit? Likely not, but it should. This year has already seen remakes of ‘Arthur,’ ‘The Mechanic,’ ‘Fright Night,’ ‘Conan the Barbarian’ and ‘Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’ flop. The public has spoken – remakes are even less likely to succeed than original fare, so why bother?

The success of the 2011 prequel ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ suggests a better way to squeeze every last drop out of an existing film franchise.

‘Apes’ built on the name recognition of that film series while instigating a fresh spin on the material. And ‘Apes’ bullied the box office competition for a $175 million haul, and counting. Compare that to director Tim Burton’s straightforward ‘Apes’ remake from 2001 which failed to recapture that “damn, dirty ape” movie magic.

Prequels, when done properly, let Hollywood bask in brand recognition – and the ability to repackage previous franchise installments on Blu-ray – while audiences savor original storytelling in a familiar package.

‘The Thing’ bumbled its attempt at franchise rejuvenation. It arrived in theaters billed as a prequel, but it essentially hit the same story beats from the 1982 ‘Thing’ feature. Audiences aren’t dumb. The trailers told us ‘Apes’ was a new story while ‘The Thing’ was a rehash, plain and simple.

Now, let’s see if Hollywood suits can accept the news that ticket buyers don’t want remakes when the originals are likely collecting dust in their movie collections – or awaiting an instant download.

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