Welcome to the first of an occasional appearance by my inner-megalomaniac.
There’s a reason why fantasy sports leagues are so popular. They not only give us a rooting interest in games we otherwise wouldn’t care about, they allow us to become the owners, managers, and coaches we think we are smarter than in the first place.
With the exception of some contests for predicting box office success over a given period of time, the movie business isn’t really structured for this kind of fantasy. So I’ve made up my own game called IF I RAN HOLLYWOOD, and it has only one rule: I run Hollywood. With that:
IF I RAN HOLLYWOOD … REMAKES WOULD BE FORBIDDEN
I doubt many artists say, “I will paint my own version of the ‘Mona Lisa’.” I doubt many novelists say, “I think ‘The Catcher in the Rye‘ needs to be rewritten.” And yet every year, filmmakers and studios say, “We should remake (insert film title here).” Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I have yet to find anything flattering about the awful 2008 remake of the classic 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.
So many, if not most or all, original films are available on video. This provides anyone who has seen an original version a chance to revisit it and make unflattering comparisons. It also provides newcomers a chance to do the same. I can only hope that studios will learn from Disney’s recent success with the theatrical rerelease of The Lion King (albeit a lesson without the 3D) and look into rereleasing popular catalogue titles to tap the nostalgia and curiosity veins, and save a fortune in production costs.
IF I RAN HOLLYWOOD … SEQUELS WOULD BE FORBIDDEN
The movie sequel was born in 1916 with Fall of a Nation (the follow-up to Birth of a Nation), and utilized with great success in the 1930s and 1940s with film series like the Andy Hardy films, among others. It was then “legitimized” in the 1970s with The French Connection II, and perfected in the 1980s with an endless stream of numbered and Roman Numeral’d films (there are too many to list here, but let’s go with one of the worst, Grease 2).
The modern-day movie sequel has always been, and continues to be, a money-grab at best, and at worst, an effort in filmmaking that would be given an “F” in film school.
Hollywood already invented something that shows us characters who were made popular in an original installment and then placed in different situations in subsequent installments. It’s called episodic television.
Speaking of episodic television …
IF I RAN HOLLYWOOD … MOVIES BASED ON TV SHOWS WOULD BE FORBIDDEN
I have to wonder if, when some Hollywood creative type shows up at a pitch meeting, anyone ever says to him, “Larry, the TV show you want to base your movie on was cancelled 15 years ago. Ever consider why?”
It seems Larry never considers why. Regardless of the success of a TV show, in so many cases, the show has long been cancelled. At least with a sequel, the thing filmmakers are exploiting was recent and only about two hours long. To use a TV show as the basis for a film is to take something that had dozens – sometimes hundreds – of hours to develop characters, tell story lines, and run its course of popularity. And, in some cases, that same show was aired again and again through years of syndication.
As is the case with remakes and sequels, there is always the memory of the original to live up to … which is why I didn’t care how tight Jessica Simpson’s cut-offs were in 2005’s rip-off of TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard… she was no Catherine Bach. Still isn’t.
These ideas come with a price, of course. For the hundreds of bad remakes, sequels, and TV adaptations through which we must suffer, we still get gems like The Thomas Crown Affair (a remake better than the original), Aliens (a sequel better than the original), and The Fugitive (a movie better than the TV show it was based on). But those gems are too few and far between to justify suffering through so much junk.
Hollywood is, arguably, the global epicenter for creativity. They should prove it by being more creative.