With Hollywood hot on the trail of remakes, is there any film that’s untouchable?
Producers have yet to move forward with updates of “Casablanca” or “The Maltese Falcon” at Warner Bros. And if Ridley Scott truly likes epics, why not have him try his hand at “Gone With the Wind?”
For now, studios are steering clear of the classics, for a myriad of reasons, and instead finding new potential in overlooked or failed concepts of the past.
The politics surrounding a project can play a significant part in remake decisions. For example, it wouldn’t make sense for Fox to attempt a remake of “Titanic” anytime soon, says one insider, because the studio is still in business with James Cameron, and most of the original execs are still on the lot.
By contrast, something like the Coen brothers’ upcoming remake of “True Grit” is far more palatable. With 40 years having elapsed since the original, Paramount didn’t have to worry about politics with past execs or its original helmer coming into play.
Then there are the broader expectations that films are expected to deliver on these days. Classic titles aren’t necessarily classic brands, which can sell on multiple platforms.
“You look at a lot of the titles being made today, many of them are moving toward youth like “Conan” or “(He-Man and the) Masters of the Universe” where there is a lot of revenue, says one producer. “Classics like a “Casablanca” don’t carry that type of brand.”
Money issues and the right creative team also can make or break a remake deal.”Studios are never afraid of offending anybody, but they are afraid of losing money,” says an agent. “If the right actors and directors aren’t banging down a studio’s door to get something made, then no studio is just going to give such a project to a fresh-faced USC grad.”
Still, some classic projects have surmounted the hurdles to get a modern makeover, but wound up helping to make the case that such concepts need to be carefully considered in the first place.
Fresh off the heels of his “Good Will Hunting” Oscar nomination, Gus Van Sant and Universal decided to take on the Hitchcock classic “Psycho” — in a shot-by-shot remake, no less. Crix were not moved and auds hardly showed up at the box office.
Sony saw potential in remaking the 1949 best picture winner “All the King’s Men” with Oscar darlings Sean Penn and Kate Winslet in the leads and “Schindler’s List” scribe Steve Zaillian helming. But the pic was rescheduled from a December 2005 bow to a September 2006 slot, and after receiving lukewarm responses from critics, auds passed.
So, unless the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Winslet start banging on Warner Bros.’ door to do a remake of “Casablanca,” auds will have to make do with the Bogie and Bergman original.