Crash Reports: Why Hollywood Loves Remakes

Remakes abound in all genres, and even classics films like PSYCHO (1960) are no  evil-dead-poster1stranger to being reshot, repackaged, and regurgitated. And as moviegoers continue to complain about remaking mania, most want to know why the hell remakes exist in the first place.

The answer: Money.

According to many sites, including YoExpert, the average Hollywood film costs roughly $130 million to make, not including up to $20 million for marketing. But if a studio can blow the dust off of something they already own, well, they get to cash in, or at least they hope so.

EVIL DEAD (2013) is now in theatres, and just won the all-important opening weekend battle with $26 million. There’s no doubt it will do well the following weekend. How a movie opens is paramount to its success. If it opens strong, there’s the hope that word will spread and draw people in (think THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY). Of course, you have to take out a small loan to see a film, but if the buzz is big, producers bet you’ll shell out at the movie house.

Think about it: When a studio green lights a remake, they’re saving millions. They already own the rights to the script, characters, music, and more. Sure, a rewrite may be needed, but that may only cost tens of thousands. And even if a studio wants to shell out for an A-list actor, the earnings of the original film, or its subsequent cult fame, may dictate that this will be money well spent. That’s because Hollywood isn’t about art, it’s about making money – it’s about ROI (return on investment).

Studios want to cash in. Filmmaking’s a business. Nothing more. Granted, independents may make a movie out of love, but Hollywood doesn’t give a damn. With remakes, they often hope lightning strikes twice. And they rely on the fact that younger moviegoers may never have heard of the original. Hell, most of my students admitted to having no clue that there was an original HALLOWEEN, a Japanese version of THE GRUDGE, or that EVIL DEAD had been produced on a shoestring budget from a bunch of no-names.

Granted, some remakes may shine bright, but for lovers of cinema, this is usually not the case. Quite often, fans somehow feel that the original is now tainted. Don’t ever let a remake, or even bad sequels, derail your love for that first film. What follows once producers try to wring out every dime should have no reflection upon the original feature that blew your mind and captured your imagination.

And don’t think for a second that there aren’t enough original scripts floating around. I’ve heard reports that Hollywood is inundated with about 50,000 scripts a year (though I bet it’s higher). Hollywood hates taking chances on new writers, and doesn’t want to do the legwork to find new writing talent or invest in a project they’re not sure about – because if a producer makes a mistake, a studio could tank. I know so many screenwriters with amazing scripts that will collect dust, and their careers will never get off the ground – especially in a bad economy when Hollywood wants to make money and win at the box office to survive another day. So, they’ll go with the tried and true, at the expense of art and brilliance – every time.

I have yet to see the new EVIL DEAD, though I’m looking forward to the experience. Young people have said it was “Awesome”, while seasoned horror fans have said, “We’ve seen it all before.” Well, as for the latter, especially when it comes to remakes, that won’t end anytime soon.

(Photo from ScriptShadow.)

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