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October 5, 2007

TMB’s 4 Rules Before Making A Remake

— Posted by John Campea

Remakes-RulesThere are some terrific films that have been made over the years that were actually remakes. Films like Scarface, The Fly, Lord of the Rings and Ocean’s Eleven are just a couple of examples that prove that remakes CAN work if done right…. just like any other movie project.

I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind the idea of remaking an older film. Yes, it has the potential of sucking… but so does every movie. However, when approaching remakes, I believe there are 4 “rules” or prerequisites that a film should meet in order for a studio to consider producing a remake of it. Here they are:

1) The original has to have a good story
I know that sounds too simple to even mention here, but you’d be surprised. What would be the point of remaking “Freddy Got Fingered”? Story is the base foundation of everything, if the original didn’t have it… then don’t bother.

2) Majority of current audience hasn’t seen the original
This is a big one to me. The strongest argument for doing a remake (to me anyway) is to bring a great story to a modern audience that otherwise wouldn’t have seen it. Yes, they could always go to the Blockbuster and rent it… but there is no debate that most people don’t do that… so why not bring it to them? That being the case, it makes no sense to do a remake if most of the current movie going audience has seen the original. Films like Godfather, Star Wars ect. have been seen by most people (although the number is dwindling now finally) so you wouldn’t be bringing them anything they haven’t already seen for the most part.

3) Original has to be at least 20 years old
I think before a film should be considered for a remake, a legitimate buffer of time between when the original came out, and when you propose to do the remake. This rule is related to rule #2, but if no one saw a great movie that was just out 13 years ago… then chances are you should just leave it alone for a few more years before remaking it.

4) The story would benefit from a modern telling
You have to adapt material moving it from one era to another. The question is can that adaption be made into a modern context, or in the same context but benefit from modern filmmaking techniques and technologies? For example, could the story of Ocean’s Eleven benefit be transporting it into a modern casino context? YES. Or Lord of the Rings. Could it benefit changing mediums from animated to live action utilizing today’s technology to enhance the storytelling? Obviously YES. On the other hand, a film like “The Three Amigos” shouldn’t be remade (yet) because the story as it is and the context in which it was told wouldn’t benefit from an update at all. Undoubtedly at some point it WILL… but not right now, even though it’s more than 20 years old, is a hilarious story and SADLY most people today haven’t seen it.

I think if a film meets these 4 criteria then it’s a prime candidate to be remade… hopefully for the better. Earlier today I wrote that the Hellraiser remake seems to be back on. To me, it meets all the above “rules” and therefore a good one to do. Does that mean it will WORK? Obviously not… but it does mean it’s worth the try.

So what do you think? Would you add any more “rules” or criteria to my list?

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  • Gazza

    Say John,

    What would your rules be for Hollywood remakes of foreign language films? I think The Departed has already been mentioned above already… which is nice, because I was starting to think that they’d made a rule that only asian horror films could be remade…

    God knows the opposite’s been happening for years; but it’s actually really interesting seeing the stories adapted for local audiences. IMHO, that would be my no 1 rule for such remakes, the story should be able to be adapted well to suit western audiences. what say you?

  • Wes

    I think they should remake Eragon, i know it is not very old at all, but they slaughtered the book with the movie, they need to completely start over and do the actual story not the complete offstretch that came, the only redeemable part of Eragon was the few good actors like Jeremy Irons as Brom Or Ajihad portrayed by the talented Djimon Hounsou, if New Line would remake this properly they would make ten times what they put into it on the movie scores of fans would see it, we dont care if they have to split it into several films or a long film many fans will flock to a chance at a good representation, if the other books are to be made into movies, then the original must be remade

  • Cassidy

    I would up that time frame to maybe 30s years… I think allot of knowing when and when not to remake a movie has mostly to do with intuition. Scarface and The Fly worked because the movies in which the were based have a completely different approach and aim. While the talks of a Nightmare on Elm Street remake and a Videodrome remake (while still in your legal time frame) just seem like bad ideas. In Nightmares case its because its a tired franchise that people of all ages are still being introduced to. While in the case for movies like Videodrome, Wicker Man, and Last House on the Left it just seems like these movies were already such a timeless and artful statement on there own and they are so connected to the creator that a remake would be pointless. This is also the case for the Psycho remake. And as far as their never being a Three Amigo’s remake, didn’t Tropic Thunder get pretty close?

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