At least once a month, I feel like I see an announcement for a new remake of a film that came out years ago. Even though there is usually a lot of hype surrounding these announcements, I just can’t get excited for them and frequently find myself bored.
A good example of this would be Disney and their recent trend of remaking their classics into live-action features. Currently in the works are a Peter Pan and a Little Mermaid live action. Whenever such films are announced, fans seem to rejoice in seeing their favourite films remade and there is a lot of buzz and debate surrounding the cast. However, I wish more people would take a step back and see these films for what they are: profit-making schemes that are getting churned out by the big corporations – Disney being the biggest culprit.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to detract from the enjoyment that people gain from these film experiences. What I am trying to do is highlight the lack of originality. What happened to films like The Lion King or, more recently, Tangled? Yes, both these films were adaptions of old stories, but Disney added new twists. Now all Disney does is capitalise on nostalgia. There is no need for another Peter Pan remake; fans of the story already have the beloved 1953 animated film, the 2003 live-action adaption from Universal Studios, and Steven Spielberg’s 1991 adaption Hook starring Robin Williams to choose from. Now it’s Disney’s turn to exploit the love for this story. Undoubtedly it will make a profit when it is released but I am skeptical. The recent 2015 remake Pan was panned by critics and did not perform well at the box office. It all depends on how Disney handles the source material and if they try to do something original with the story. They should stay away from producing a carbon copy remake of the animated version like they did with Cinderella in 2015 (Cinderella being another example of a story that needs to stop being remade as just this year there was another unsuccessful attempt at an adaption).
Though Disney is probably the biggest culprit since they monopolise most entertainment franchises (Star Wars and Marvel, to name a few), they are not alone in this remake frenzy. This year we saw Netflix’s release of He’s All That, a remake of She’s All That from 1999. Again, this begs the question, why did we need a remake of a film from 1999 starring Addison Rae? The original She’s All That was not even well-received by critics and holds a 55% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, one thing it did do was make a lot of profit. I think that definitely answers the question as to why this mediocre film was remade.
In recent years, attention has shifted away from Hollywood and foreign cinema is rising in popularity with Western audiences. I’d argue that this is because it is offering something new and original. The most famous example of this would be Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 film, Parasite. The film was easily one of the most popular films of the year and won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, becoming the first non-English language film to do so. And it also performed really well at the box-office – particularly in the USA. Can you guess what’s coming next? Currently in the works is a Parasite remake, a six part-mini-series produced by HBO, starring Tilda Swinton. There is genuinely no need for this remake; after all, 2019 was only three years ago! But once again profit prevails: Hollywood wants to capitalise on the success of this film, and by westernising it, they make it more accessible to anyone who was put off by the original being in a foreign language, which will result in more money. That, to me, always seems to be the end goal.
This article may make it look like I have no faith in Hollywood, but that isn’t true. Though dwindling in numbers, every year there are still quite a few remarkable films released that showcase the originality of directors. A favourite of mine has to be Martin McDonagh, known for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and In Bruges. To me, he is an example of someone still writing witty, original scripts that can appeal to critics, wide audiences, and, perhaps most importantly, make a profit. McDonagh shows that it can be done. I hope Hollywood realises this and that if people wish to feel nostalgic, they can re-watch their favourite childhood films instead of paying to see a half-baked remake made with only profit in mind.