Should there be a moratorium on direct remakes in Hollywood?

When talking about the lack of original ideas left in Hollywood, most people tend to cite the flood of remakes that seem to hit cinemas on a fairly regular basis. From The Getaway to The Longest Yard, it seems as though Hollywood just can’t seem to make the remake work — but is that really true?

People are too quick to cite examples of bad remakes and tend to gloss over all of the good over the years. As well, people tend to neglect how much of our television media has successfully remade British programming over the years. From Three’s Company to The Office, a great majority of successful US sitcoms are direct remakes of BBC productions. Two of my most anticipated new shows over the next few years will be the US remakes of The Thick of It and Life on Mars — two of the best shows on TV anywhere in the world, being remade for American TV by Mitchell Hurwitz and David E. Kelly respectively.

Considering the appeal of the different US and UK markets, one could argue many of these shows are adaptations rather than remakes. They may be right, but does it matter? Is there really that big a difference between a remake and an adaptation? Aren’t they both just different approaches by different artists on the same material? Does it really matter if the medium differs? And can you really place a moratorium on one without placing it on the other? If we do go so far as to place remakes and adaptations in the same boat, we would have never had recent classics like Sin City or A History of Violence, not to mention big budget films like Harry Potter or the Batman franchise. Placing a moratorium on one creates a slippery slope in which remaking any form of media into a film could be placed in jeopardy.

In the end, it really comes down to one simple fact — Hollywood makes good movies and bad movies, and judging by the evidence at hand it would seem that the ratio of good to bad is no different with remakes than it is with any other niche. The only thing a moratorium would accomplish is limiting the exposure a younger generation has to classics of the past (or world cinema) that they otherwise may never have explored. Some remakes may be better than the originals (The Thing, Scarface, Dawn of the Dead) and some will be worse (The Departed, The Omen, Psycho) — but they’re all films that can be judged on their own merits — and gaining exposure to a different take on a familiar story can be just as fascinating as a film with a completely original story.

Advertisements