As the remake clock has now ticked its way up to the 90s, Mark looks through the What-If Machine at the outcomes of five as-yet-unannounced remakes...
It's actually quicker to just assume that your favourite movie from the 1980s, or even the 1990s, is getting remade than it is to look it up and check. From Dirty Dancing to Point Break, via franchise reboots for Poltergeist and Robocop, everything seems to be in some stage of remake development, irrespective of whether or not the studio has yet found some gun-for-hire to instil their “vision” on whichever cash cow is currently being milked.
Granted, you have Die Hard and Indiana Jones and other such properties, which are either getting belated follow-ups, or otherwise have powerful Hollywood players like Willis or Spielberg attached, in order to squash any talk of remaking their work. But practically everything else that is even mildly popular is getting remade or rebooted.
No more, we say! Here are five movies from the 1980s and 1990s on which we've decided to make a pre-emptive strike. Some of these are the best-case scenario for a remake, others are the worst, but at the time of writing, they are all as yet unannounced.
Let's crank up the Time-Space Visualiser, the What-If Machine, or another time-travelling telly of your choice, and look into a future where these remakes and reboots could happen…
Flight of the Navigator
In the vein of other belated additions to their 1980s catalogue, Disney insists that their new Flight of the Navigator film is more a sequel than a remake. In fact, it winds up being closer to 2009's Race to Witch Mountain than Tron: Legacy, as a film that could feasibly take place in the same continuity as the 1986 original.
The marketing, however, takes a similar approach to that of the Tron sequel, with a lengthy campaign aimed at reintroducing Flight of the Navigator to nostalgic Gen-X viewers, and establishing the basic idea to the younger viewers who Disney want to attract. The new film, simply called Navigator, has a lot riding on it at the box office before it's even finished production.
Shaun Levy's role as director gets a mixed response in the film press, pretty much divided between people who liked Real Steel and people who didn't. The casting of Dakota Goyo draws a similar response. A synopsis is released, which focuses on the travels of a new young character called Joe as he's enlisted in an intergalactic war on Phaelon.
The original film focused on the hero, David, being returned eight years late from an off-screen flight in an alien spacecraft. It was more about the discontinuity of going missing for such a long period, than about the trip itself. Pre-release, some analysts expect the film to perform along the same lines of Mars Needs Moms, the bonafide flop that Disney released earlier this year.
As it turns out, when the film is released, it ends on the cliff-hanger of Joe being returned to Earth in the year 2020. This blatant sequel hook is called overly optimistic by some critics, but the response to the actual film is just as mixed as the rumblings around the production, and while the film breaks even at the box office, the likelihood of a third Navigator outing seems uncertain.
Although you might not have heard of it, Groundhog Day has already been remade, in the form of a 2004 Italian language film called Stork Day. Talk about an unusual reversal, given how it's usually Hollywood remaking foreign language films in English, rather than vice versa. And so, the entire internet facepalms as one, when some young and eager executive pays through the nose for the English language remake rights to Stork Day.
Trying to save face, the studio remounts the project as a straight-up reworking of Groundhog Day, which doesn't alleviate the negative hype. The original, directed by Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell is one of those few pitch-perfect films, and the affection for the original doesn't translate into a desire to see the new version.
Picking up on an idea from the original script which never made it into the film, both Phil and Rita wind up reliving the same day over and over again, instead of just Phil, and the film takes on a much more obvious romantic comedy slant. Sure enough, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, who had a similar plot contrivance going together in 50 First Dates are cast.
Even worse than the remake itself is the veritable tidal wave of critics who leap on the obvious puns about how the film is repetitive. It turns out that timeless comedies like Groundhog Day are only really timeless if you avoid outright redoing them in present times.
The Breakfast Club
The upcoming Bumped, starring Kellan Lutz, Camilla Belle and Mo'Nique, is touted to be an update on the general premise of John Hughes' seminal teen movie with older characters stranded in an airport departure lounge, but what if studios decided to capitalise on the affection for the original and do a straight remake?
The project gets going when John Travolta is attached, taking both an executive producer credit, and the role of Principal Vernon. Fans already think it's a bad idea to remake the original, so Travolta's casting doesn't exacerbate matters much more. That is, until a draft of the script leaks online, in which every line is beat-for-beat taken from the original, with a few exceptions, such as Bender's line being amended to “Does John Travolta know you raid his wardrobe?”
The negative buzz intensifies with the leaked script, and with the film stuck in arrested development, Travolta eventually leaves the project. Anthony Michael Hall and Emilio Estevez both express an interest in playing Vernon, in a nod to the roles that launched their respective careers. The studio decides to take a different tack, casting popular young stars in the main roles, and enlisting Community creator Dan Harmon to update the script.
In true Hollywood fashion, the actors aren't necessarily high-school age, but no one seems to be bothered. There's a warm reception to Felicity Jones being cast as Allison “The Basketcase” Reynolds, Ally Sheedy's role in the original. When another Brit, Thomas Turgoose, is cast as Brian “The Brain” Johnson, there's the usual round of movie blog posts that criticise the casting of British actors in American roles.
These are abated when the rest of the cast is announced, and The Social Network's Armie Hammer takes over the iconic John Bender role, finally dispelling fears that Shia LaBeouf would be cast. Rounding out the main cast are Emma Stone (inevitably) as Claire “The Princess” Standish, and Michael Angarano as Andrew “The Jock” Clark.
Surprisingly, Tom McCarthy (The Station Agent, Win Win) signs up to direct, and he's also credited on the rewritten script. With McCarthy comes the final recasting of Principal Vernon, and Paul Giamatti proves a much more agreeable choice for fans of the original than Travolta.
The recent re-release of Ghostbusters actually did little to shift the long-gestating Ghostbusters 3 into production. It feels like it has been talked about forever, but as enthusiastic as Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis have been, it's difficult for the audience to muster the same enthusiasm, when it's uncertain if Bill Murray will return as Peter Venkman.
On the fifth anniversary of Murray receiving his still-unread draft of the script, by Year One writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, Sony finally decides to cut out the middle step of passing down the proton packs from one generation of Ghostbusters to another, and just make the straight-up reboot for which they were obviously aiming.
After an initial backlash, speculation starts around the actors who will play the new characters on the Ghostbusters team. Several favourites, such as Seth Rogen and James Franco, rule out their involvement. Shia LaBeouf also rules out a starring role, although nobody actually asked him.
A starring role for Saturday Night Live stalwart Bill Hader is confirmed, a piece of casting that is met with immediate online approval. After much speculation around whether any of the Ghostbusters will be female, Alison Brie is the next cast member to be announced, along with confirmation that there will be two more Ghostbusters on the new team.
These are eventually revealed to be Nathan Fillion and Aasif Mandvi, rounding out a cast of leads that has online geeks hugely enthusiastic. More character details emerge, when Brie's character is said to be the leader of the new Ghostbusters, picking up on an idea that Aykroyd was talking about in 2009, while Fillion, Hader and Mandvi are more like Venkman, Stantz and Spengler, respectively.
As if the film couldn't excite fanboys any more, Samuel L. Jackson is announced as the film's villain, who is trying to open up a portal to Hell in New York. The internet memes seem to begin within moments, and more significantly, the film now has a big star attached. Ironically, Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson agree to make cameo appearances, which eventually brings Aykroyd and Ramis into the fold too.
With the announcement of Dr. Sleep, Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, there's immediately talk of the film adaptation. Hollywood being the way it is, there's actually talk of redoing The Shining too, so as to avoid a new director simply trying to ape Kubrick in the sequel. Still, it comes to everybody's surprise when no less than three competing remakes of Stephen King's horror novel go into development.
The most appealing, to many, is rumoured to have Christopher Nolan attached. Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way, is interested in the idea as a starring vehicle for the actor, and Leo wants his Inception director to helm it. A war of words ensues when Christian Bale lobbies hard for the role of Jack Torrance. Elsewhere, an internet meme suggests that the director is ultimately trying to revise all of Jack Nicholson's most famous performances. Nolan passes, opting to work on original projects instead.
Another of the prospective remakes seems almost unthinkable, but Jack Black is interested in making a family comedy take on the story. Black wants to play Jack Torrance, but the online community effectively laughs the idea out of development. The idea of Jack Black in a PG-rated version of The Shining seems so unspeakably bad that Platinum Dunes slips their version through the net.
And so Michael Bay's production company molests yet another well-regarded horror property when they press forward with their version, promising to “update Kubrick's classic take for the internet generation”. The Shining and Dr. Sleep are filmed back to back, before the sequel or even any of its plot details have been published.
Although Oscar Isaac is praised as an unexpected choice for Jack Torrance, there's a predictable backlash when Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is cast as Wendy Torrance, and Tony Todd takes on Scatman Crothers' role. Falling a long way from either of the other two well-intentioned adaptations, the internet generation doesn't really take to The Shining.
To many, the proof that director Samuel Bayer completely misses the point is in the film's second half, which leaves the Overlook Hotel for a succession of car chases and gunfights. It's rightly lambasted as one of the worst films of the year, and even the decade. Dr. Sleep goes unreleased for several years. When asked for comment, Jack Nicholson says he would have preferred Black's version.