Move over, ‘Total Recall’: 10 more remakes you’ll want to avoid
Whether you measure your movies by box office, reviews, or popular appeal, Sony’s $125 million remake of the 1990 Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger interplanetary action fest Total Recall looks like a strike-out. The movie opened with a lethal softness; a $25.7 million first weekend meaning Recall won’t even come close to making back its budget during its domestic theatrical run. In fact, despite 22 years of ticket price increases, it’s doubtful the movie will even match the original’s $119.3 million haul.
And for those of you who think maybe the problem is Total Recall was outgunned opening while The Dark Knight Rises was still sucking up box office coin, entertain, at least for a moment if you will, the possibility the movie just plain sucks. According to Rotten Tomatoes’ canvas, almost 70% of reviewers – and over three-quarters of “top critics” – gave Total Recall a thumbs-down. Those who went to see the movie didn’t seem to care much for it either, with almost 45% panning the flick (again, according to Rotten Tomatoes). CinemaScore corroborates that general sense of viewers’ collective “Meh!” reporting an audience score of just C+.
It’s still early, but it looks like this one’s headed for the septic tank, gang.
All of which may be a bad omen for those remakes still in the wings:
This month’s $17 million remake of 1976’s Sparkle;
A $75 million remake of 1975’s Red Dawn for release later this year;
A $100 million remake of 1987’s Robocop, a $127 million remake of The Great Gatsby, as well as remakes of Carrie, Gambit, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and a possible remake of 1982’s Poltergeist, all in 2013;
Into 2014, look for remakes of Child’s Play, Annie, A Star Is Born, Pat Sematary, and The Crow, just to name a few.
And that’s just the headliners! Web site Next Movie lists 50 remakes running into 2014; web site Den of Geek lists 75!
For all of Hollywood’s investment in them, remakes – at least in today’s theatrical dynamic – don’t make much sense to me. Sequels I get: a movie hits big, and you exploit that opportunity by making another movie under the same brand…and then another…and then another…until people get tired of going to see them.
On the surface, I suppose there’s a simple sense to it: take a past success, and repeat it.
Remaking a movie from any time predating the current generation of young ticket-buyers doesn’t give the title much drawing power. Today’s young demo is about as intellectually connected to Hollywood’s past glories as they are to the historical lessons of the Spanish-American War (we fought Spain?). I remember teaching a film class last year where I mentioned that Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) was not the first Planet of the Apes movie. They were all mystified except one who – very proud of himself, I might add – said, “Oh, yeah! Tim Burton made one, didn’t he?”
But what typically kills a remake – besides the very contemporary mindset that simply redoing a movie in a bigger, splashier fashion somehow makes it better – is when the makers — …oh, what’s the phrase? Ahhh: when they “make it relevant to today’s audiences.” That’s Hollywood-speak for gutting the very elements which distinguished the original and replacing them with stuff that makes the remake look like all the other crap that’s out there at the moment.
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