Friday, August 19, 2011

It's Our Fault.

In the last twenty-four hours, the Scott brothers have been in a race to one-up each other with outrage-inducing remake proposals - Ridley with BLADE RUNNER, and Tony with THE WILD BUNCH. (No word on Adam Scott's CASABLANCA remake yet.)

The venom has been swift and predictable, but is no less ironic for the fact that it comes all too shortly after so many have joined hands in praising a remake of a sequel (or, depending on your point of view, a reboot of a remake) as the best film of the summer (hi, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES!).

Personally, I think it's nothing new: my capacity for outrage at remakes was shattered many, many years ago, when the director of CASPER was hired to remake WINGS OF DESIRE with Nic Cage starring and the female lead role was transposed from trapeze artist to heart surgeon. (And what was left was bulldozed into microscopic pieces when PASSION OF MIND, the Demi Moore-starring remake of Kieslowski's DOUBLE LIFE OF VERONIQUE, unspooled shortly thereafter.) But if you do have a problem with it, maybe take a minute and ask yourself - where does that problem begin?

Remember, there is only one rule in capitalism: if you vote with your dollar, you will get what you vote for. And this chart of US box office to date in 2011 pretty much speaks for itself - but I'm going to speak about it anyway, because sometimes when something's all around you, you miss the obvious.

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
- sequel to the 7th in a series, remade from books.
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon
- 2nd sequel to a remake of a toy adaptation.
3 The Hangover Part II
- sequel to an R-rated comedy - right now, one of only two places that Hollywood has room for "originality", although the format is very circumscribed.*
4 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
- 3rd sequel to an amusement-park ride adaptation.
5 Fast Five
- 4th sequel to a remake
6 Cars 2
- sequel to a mega-studio kid's animation, the only other place where original property derives from.
7 Thor
- Marvel comic adaptation; building block in AVENGERS franchise.
8 Bridesmaids
- R-rated comedy, Apatow brand. Considered to be "risky" because it stars women. Facepalm.
9 Kung Fu Panda 2
- sequel to a mega-studio kid's animation.
10 Captain America: The First Avenger
- Marvel comic adaptation; building block in AVENGERS franchise.
11 X-Men: First Class
- Marvel comic adaptation; prequel to a sequel to a sequel.
12 Rio
- mega-studio kid's animation; connected to ludicrously successful Angry Birds video game in way I don't comprehend.
13 Super 8
- one of two "gambles" on this list, if by "gamble" you mean directed by JJ Abrams, produced by Steven Spielberg, and marketed as a known quantity (i.e. throwback to THE GOONIES and 80's kid's entertainment)
14 Rango
- the other "gamble", if by gamble you mean this year's INCEPTION - i.e. a personal project permitted by earning shitloads of money for Hollywood. Also, this "original" project is entirely built on CHINATOWN, Sergio Leone movies, Johnny Depp, etc. Nonetheless, this is, in this list, the paragon of "original risk-taking".
15 Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- as noted, I can't even figure out if this is a reboot of a reboot, a prequel to a reboot, a remake of a sequel, or what.
16 Green Lantern
- DC Comics adaptation.
17 Horrible Bosses
- R-rated comedy.
18 The Smurfs
- adaptation of TV series inspired by children's toys.
19 Hop
- mega-studio kid's animation.
20 Just Go With It
- Adam Sandler branded comedy. Edited to add: per a note from Mike D'Angelo, it's also a remake of CACTUS FLOWER, a 1969 Walter Matthau comedy.

And there you have it: the top 20 highest-grossing movies. Which is not identical to the most successful movies, but close enough for the purposes at hand.

And that purpose is to remind people: if you want to change things, vote with your dollar. **

And if you don't, please, don't be shocked when Hollywood does exactly what it has been doing.

* As an example of what I mean about "originality being circumscribed" - one of the genre requirements, so to speak, of BRIDESMAIDS was adding the wedding dress/vomitorium scene. Gotta have those gross-out scenes to make it commercially viable!

** In the interest of disclosure, I've seen three of these films: FAST FIVE, BRIDESMAIDS, RANGO, and RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. I had a pre-paid ticket to burn for the first one, spent my own money for the other three. I actually enjoyed all of them. But I've spent at least 20x as much money this year on movies that don't fit those categories. That's a ratio that roughly represents my view of what I'd like to see at theatres as programming options, although by necessity most of that spending has had to come at film festivals.

1 comment:

  1. You managed to write a blog entry that I agree with almost 100% yet I still walk away from feeling like I've just been told off by a school teacher.

    Sorry, sir!