It seems that, during today’s day & age in the movie industry, many of the movies that have either already came out & are now out on DVD, are currently out, or are about to come out are either a prequel, a sequel, a television show/comic/cartoon brought to the silver screen, or a movie remake. While I don’t necessarily mind Hollywood creating prequels & sequels, even though there are some I wish were never made, I question not only why Hollywood continually brings old television shows to the silver screen, but also why they continue to want to remake classic films.
Typically when Hollywood makes a prequel or a sequel, it is expected to be just as good, if not, better than the original. On one side, let’s start with the prequel. Now we all know the purpose of the prequel is to show the fans the events of the second movie, which led up to the first movie. Sometimes that formula works as evidenced by the movies: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, & Return of the Jedi & their prequels Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, & Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Having said that, the formula doesn’t always work. For example, in both The Flintstones & its prequel The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, as well as in Dumb & Dumber & its prequel Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, both prequels were huge disappointments. Not only that, but the other thing these bombs had in common was that most of the stars in the original wisely stayed away from the prequel. John Goodman, Elizabeth Perkins, & Rick Moranis were smart enough to stay away from Viva Rock Vegas while Jim Carrey & Jeff Daniels wisely chose not to do When Harry Met Lloyd. Even though she doesn’t physically appear in Viva Rock Vegas, Rosie O’Donnell (who also appeared in The Flintstones) did lend her voice to the prequel so she doesn’t count. Hollywood should take as a clue, that, if the original stars don’t return for the prequel, chances are because they read the script & they know it sucks. On the other side, the sequel is expected to outdo the original, as evidenced by the films: The Terminator & Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Unfortunately, that formula doesn’t always work as evidenced by Joel Schumacher’s horrendous Batman & Robin, which was the third sequel to Tim Burton’s Batman, as it was so awful, it nearly killed the Batman franchise forever.
Bewitched, Wild Wild West, & I-Spy are just some examples of classic television shows, which Hollywood has brought to the big screen. Now, I can understand why some classic TV shows need to be brought to the big screen. For example, you have more freedom in a 2 hour movie than you do in a 30 minute show. It also gives the director the opportunity to take the characters outside the box & out of their own environment like in Beavis & Butthead Do America or in The Simpsons Movie. Finally, it gives the fans of those TV shows a chance to either revisit that show, so to speak, as in The X-Files & The X-Files: I Want to Believe movies, or a chance to see things that are not allowed on TV like in Jackass: The Movie & Jackass Number Two. Some classic examples of TV shows becoming box office hits include: The Fugitive & The Untouchables. On the flip side, some TV shows becoming box office flops include: The Honeymooners, The Dukes of Hazzard, & The Beverly Hillbillies. Unfortunately, some shows should not be made into movies simply because 1. The expectations are high because you’re trying to fill their shoes & if you can’t live up to it, it’s considered a failure & 2. It’s easier to make a 30 minute show then it is to make a 2 hour movie because of the fact that the script would obviously be shorter & if you plan to make it into a movie, you have to fill 2 hours, which can be a daunting task since you’d have to stretch the plot. That was certainly the case for Rowan Atkinson who brought his character, Mr. Bean, to the big screen in two feature films: Bean & Mr. Bean’s Holiday. It seemed that his show was great & so was the second film, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, but the first film, Bean, wasn’t as great simply because the comedy ran thin. The show is different because each episode is broken down to about 3 sketches. As a result, it’s much easier to write sketches which are roughly 7 minutes long, each with a different plot, as opposed to a 2 hour movie as it’s not only easier to keep the audience laughing for only 30 minutes, but the plot of the TV comedy show doesn’t necessarily have to make sense, just as long as it keeps the audience laughing, unlike a movie which must make sense.
Classic films are called classic for a reason, they are special & unique & are in their own league, much like a classic car. For example, the 1963 Chevy Impala is a classic car, which is in a league of its own. As a matter of fact, if you were to visit the Chevy dealer today, even though you’d be able to see a 2009 Chevy Impala, you wouldn’t see a 1963 Chevy Impala simply because it’s a classic, which means that Chevy doesn’t make them anymore. If they did, the car wouldn’t be a classic. But, Hollywood sees things a bit differently. For some reason, instead of creating new ideas, they like to revamp old movies, movies that enjoyed great success & should be left alone. Hollywood has remade classic films like: Psycho, Halloween, & King Kong, with other classic films set to be remade & released next year which include: Poltergeist, The Karate Kid, & A Nightmare On Elm Street. Now, I can understand the director wanting to remake some movies in order to give them an ‘update’ like in William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet & how it was given a more ‘street vibe’ in the version that came out in 1996 starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Claire Danes. I can also understand the director wanting to put his own spin on it. However, if the film is already a success, does it really need to be remade? As we found out in 1996, Gus Van Sant remade Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho & failed miserably. Next year, the remakes of A Nightmare on Elm Street & The Karate Kid are both scheduled to hit the theaters. Why? Didn’t they learn from Gus Van Sant’s dumb idea wanting to remake Psycho? What’s next, remaking Casablanca or Gone with the Wind?
The bottom line is, whenever Hollywood decides to create a prequel, sequel, TV show remake, or movie remake, they are taking a huge gamble. If it does well, it does justice to its predecessor. If it flops, it makes its predecessor look bad. I hope Hollywood keeps that in mind the next time it plans on going through its DVD library thinking about what TV show or movie should be remade or what movie deserves a prequel/sequel because if the script doesn’t advance the movie like a sequel should do, give us a back story like a prequel should do, update the show while staying true to the original like a TV show remake should do, or live up to the original like a movie remake should do, then it’s probably not worth it. I also hope Hollywood remembers the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In other words, don’t try to recreate something that is unrecreateable. Hopefully, Hollywood will learn to leave well enough alone.