Saturday, February 18, 2017

But I Digress...You're Remaking What?

By Cat

The phrase “Hollywood is running out of ideas” gets bandied about quite a bit these days. So many movies and television shows of yester-year are getting remade for modern audiences. Sometimes there are ways that the original storytelling could be improved; such as via advances in special effects. All too many times, however, the studios are trying to cash in on a bigger payday. Everyone wants a new blockbuster franchise to rake in the dough through ticket sales and on-demand rentals. Let’s be serious, though. Franchise success means moving a mountain of merch to the masses.

The thing is, some of these older movies are practically considered sacred ground for fans – or even because of their significance at the time. It might have been an iconic performance that was irreplaceable lightning in a bottle, or it could have been because of groundbreaking work in the industry on some level.

This week, I composed a list of movies that had me making this face when I learned they were in development:

Immediately followed by this.

These projects are in various stages of development. Some have changed hands along the way, affecting timelines, and others are just getting started. Most of them are still missing key players, such as directors and cast. It’s unclear how long any of these will take to actually hit the big (or small) screen. These movies could just as easily get lost in development hell as become completed features.

Following in our usual “Top 10” or “Top 20” fashion, I’ve listed them for you in descending order. As we progress, we’ll get further from ‘eh that might be ok’ and into the territory of ‘things that must not be done.’ What do you think?

10 – Pumpkinhead

Original Release Year: 1988
Tag Line: For each of man's evils a special demon exists...
Production Companies:  De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, Lion Films
Executive Producer: Alex De Benedetti
Director:  Stan Winston
Writers:  Ed Justin, Mark Patrick Carducci, Stan Winston, Gary Gerani
Actors:  Lance Henrickson, Jeff East, John D'Aquino, Kimberly Ross, Joel Hoffman, Cynthia Bain, Kerry Remsen, Florence Shauffler, Brian Bremer, George "Buck" Flower, Matthew Hurley, Mayim Bialik, Tom Woodruff Jr.
Genre:  Fantasy, Horror
Rated:  R

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Writer: Nate Atkins
Producer: Peter Block
Production Company: A Bigger Boat

Entertainment Weekly broke the news of this reboot back in August 2016. Producer Peter Block (Saw, The Devil's Rejects, House At The End of The Street) has indicated that he has respect for the original film and he doesn’t intend to give a verbatim remake.

“There is a similarity of theme and a similarity of story. There’s a lot of Easter eggs for people who know the original — iconic shots and iconic lines that we’re going to use. But we’ve enhanced the setting, and we’ve expanded the characters somewhat, to give it a different kind of experience.” – Block to EW

While special effects have progressed by monumental leaps and bounds since this creepy monster first stalked the screen, this production looks to keep grounded with practical effects. Block specified that “…everybody should be able to look at [the creature] and say, ‘Oh, that’s Pumpkinhead!’ It’s not like you’re all of a sudden going to find that it’s some amorphous, nebulous, CGI wispy thing. You’re going to know it came from the Pumpkinhead family lineage.”

With that being said, I’m not really all that upset that this classic horror film is aiming to snag the attention of a new generation. I’m interested to see what sort of updates they bring to the concept and if they can successfully relaunch this franchise. It seems like the ‘powers that be’ have some good intentions with this property. We’ll see how it turns out!

It seems that they’re aiming to get filming underway sometime this year; though, there doesn’t seem to be a director or cast associated with the project yet.

9 – Splash

Original Movie Release Year: 1984
Tag Line: She was the woman of his dreams... she had large dark eyes, a beautiful smile and a great pair of fins.
Production Company:  Touchstone Pictures
Executive Producer: John Thomas Lenox
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Bruce Jay Friedman, Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel, Brian Grazer
Actors: Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Dody Goodman, Shecky Greene, Richard B. Shull, Bobby Di Cicco, Howard Morris, Tony DiBenedetto
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Rated: PG

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: Free Association, Imagine Entertainment
Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Reid Carolin, Peter Kieran, Channing Tatum
Writer: Marja-Lewis Ryan
Actors: Channing Tatum, Jillian Bell

Deadline Hollywood ignited a flurry of activity when they announced this film via an exclusive in August 2016. The moment I saw the headline, I was also seeing red. After I actually did some reading on the topic, I started changing my mind a little.

While the movie is going to keep the same premise and, it seems, title; the rest of the details we know about this project flips the script. Rather than a mermaid, the aquatic citizen out of water will be a merman played by Channing Tatum (Step Up, White House Down, The Lego Movie). The human counterpart will be played by Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street, Goosebumps, Office Christmas Party). As of now, those are the only confirmed cast members. It’s said that there is a possibility that this might actually be told from the perspective of the ‘mermaid,’ in following closer to the original treatment the first movie was based on.

Considering Ron Howard (Willow, Apollo 13, In The Heart of The Sea) directed the original hit movie, I feel it’s safe to say that he has the best interests in mind for this film. Tatum is also set to be on the production team. 

At the time of this article, Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips, Bridge of Spies, Sully) is not involved with this film. He was, in fact, surprised to learn of it; and can be seen in a video of the Inferno (2016) premier red carpet expressing his willingness to participate if tapped to do so. Howard has a moment in the video as well. Hanks did jokingly add that if they wanted to make a bold movie, they could bring him back as his original character to pair off with Tatum’s new finned one.

8 – The Saint

Original Movie Release Year: 1997
Tag Line: Never reveal your name. Never turn your back. Never surrender your heart.
Production Companies: Paramount Pictures, Rysher Entertainment, Mace Neufeld Productions, Robert Evans Company
Executive Producers: Robert S. Baker, Paul Hitchcock
Director: Phillip Noyce
Writers: Leslie Charteris, Jonathan Hensleigh, Wesley Strick
Actors: Val Kilmer, Elisabeth Shue, Rade Serbedzija, Valeriy Nikolaev, Henry Goodman, Alun Armstrong, Michael Byrne. Evgeniy Lazarev, Irina Apeksimova, Lev Prygunov, Peter Guinness, Malcolm Tierney, Roger Moore
Genre: Action/Adventure, Romance
Rated: PG-13

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: di Bonaventura Pictures
Executive Producer: Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Writer: Leslie Charteris, Travis Wright

The 1997 version of this movie wasn’t where the tale of Simon Templar began. Before he was James Bond, Roger Moore (The Cannonball Run, The Quest, The Magic Snowman) starred in the role of Templar in a television series based on the books of Leslie Charteris (The Saint’s Vacation, The Saint Meets the Tiger, Vendetta for the Saint).  There’s since been a made-for-tv movie featuring Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, The Scribbler, Eloise), which focused on one of the many stories of The Saint. Moore was also involved with that production.

It’s unclear whether or not this reboot is going to revisit the story from the 90s movie – there are quite a few they can choose from. That is one nugget of information that brings to mind the possibility that Paramount is looking to spin up a new franchise. There seems to be plenty of material to draw from that would make it a feasible possibility – if this remake is successful.

With director and cast still up in the air, it remains to be seen how they’re actually handling this – and whether or not anyone should start the table-flipping. I’m on the fence with this one. While I enjoyed the first movie, I recognize it wasn’t the best piece of cinema ever made. There’s decided room for improvement there. Is this something that’s going to be interesting, though? I guess we’ll see.

7 – Private Benjamin

Original Movie Release Year: 1980
Tag Line: The army was no laughing matter until Judy Benjamin joined it.
Production Companies:  Warner Bros.
Executive Producer: Goldie Hawn
Director: Howard Zieff
Writers: Nancy Meyers, Charles Shyer, Harvey Miller
Actors: Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, Armand Assante, Robert Webber, Sam Wanamaker, Barbara Barrie, Mary Kay Place, Harry Dean Stanton, Albert Brooks, Alan Oppenheimer, Craig T. Nelson
Genre: Comedy, Military
Rated: R

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: New Line Cinema
Executive Producer: Michelle Weiss
Writer: Amy Talkington
Director: Mark Gordon
Actors: Rebel Wilson

New line has been trying to get this remake off the ground for several years now. In fact, the datelines for the last round of casting announcements were back in 2014. There’s no telling if this movie will ever get off the ground. I honestly hope it doesn’t.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not against remakes in general. It can be quite enjoyable to see a new twist on an old story or bringing something from a prior era into a more modern frame. This does not appear to be a movie that would benefit from such. Regardless of the fact that women’s role in the military has been shifting in a more inclusive direction since 1980.

I don’t think that the proposed premise is going to do this story’s legacy any justice. It even seems a bit irreverent, in spite of attempts on behalf of the production to reassure that they do not intend to make fun of our military. The concept that’s been circulated thus far is of a “redneck” country girl and a city girl joining the Marines. Really? The Marines??

I think Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, How to Be Single, The Brothers Grimsby) is great, but the roles that she tends to play don’t point me in any direction where this film makes sense. I just don’t get it.

If this movie actually gets made, I have a feeling it’s going to piss a good number of people off. In fact, Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, The Skeleton Key, Deepwater Horizon) has already been vocal against this reproduction of her mother’s movie. Access Hollywood ran an article expressing her side of things in May of 2014. Goldie Hawn (Bird On A Wire, Death Becomes Her, The First Wives Club) made some groundbreaking moves in the industry when she wore as many hats as she did in making the original film. Hawn hasn’t been cited in making any comments about this reboot.

I guess I’m just hoping that this one gets lost on the way to the theater.

6 – Starman

Original Movie Release Year: 1984
Tag Line: In 1977 Voyager II was launched into space, inviting all lifeforms in the universe to visit our  planet. Get ready. Company's coming.
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures Corporation. Industrial Light & Magic, Delphi II Productions
Executive Producer: Michael Douglas
Director: John Carpenter
Writers: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon, Dean Riesner
Actors: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Phalen, Tony Edwards, John Walter Davis,
Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance
Rated: PG

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Companies: 21 Laps Entertainment, Columbia Pictures
Executive Producer: Robert Mitas, Dan Cohen
Producers: Shawn Levy, Michael Douglas
Writer: Arash Amel
Director: Shawn Levy

I haven’t looked up a firm number, but how many of John Carpenter’s (The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, The Ward) movies have been remade? I’ll bet that it’s quite a few. I could sit here and ask the inevitably repeated question of ‘why’ but that’s one of those universal questions that never really gets a good answer. Maybe they’re seen as a challenge, and people want to try and one-up him?

I get that this one was set in the 80s and that there’s room for all sorts of special effects wizardry in updating it to a modern era – but does it really need it? Jeff Bridges (Seabiscuit, Crazy Heart, True Grit) received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his role in the original, along with winning the Saturn Award for Best Actor. It was a compelling story.

All the same, The Tracking Board broke the news in June of 2015 that this remake was in the works with Sony Pictures. Things are still moving along, it seems. As of Variety’s April 2016 article, more detail became available about other production staff. Michael Douglas (Face/Off, The Rainmaker, The Sentinal) is set to join the production team once more. Perhaps he might be able to help balance this “re-imagining” of the tale.

Come on, though. Why are you messing with The Dude?!

With all the other pieces of the puzzle seemingly in place, however, all that seems lacking is a cast (and whatever other behind-the-scenes hurdles it has yet to jump through).

I’ll probably end up watching this out of sheer curiosity, but I’ll be grumbling all the way to my seat.

5 – Starship Troopers

Original Movie Release Year: 1997
Tag Line: Mankind just became an endangered species
Production Companies: TriStar Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Big Bug Pictures, Digital Image Associates
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writers: Edward Neumeier, Robert A. Heinlein
Actors: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards, Jake Busey, Neil Patrick Harris, Clancy Brown, Michael Ironside, Seth Gillam, Rue McClanahan, Patrick Muldoon, Amy Smart
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, Military
Rated: R

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: Original Film (Sony Distribution)
Producers: Toby Jaffe, Neal H, Moritz
Writers: Jack Stentz, Mark Swift

This particular remake has been in the works for years, apparently, and is still chugging its way towards reality. Empire quoted producer Toby Jaffe (The Quick and the Dead, Prom Night, Total Recall) as saying "The more expensive a film is, the harder it is now to make it that violent…" when asked about the level of violence in the remake-to-be in June 2012. I honestly don't see how a less violent film even works. Is this an indication of their budget size?

The original movie was an adaptation of Robert Heinlein’s (1907–1988) book by the same name, though the direction the film took was heavy into the realm of satire. This production team has a vision to pull back closer to the original source material and be more “grounded.” Jaffe was also quoted saying “Working in a visual-effects renaissance as we are, we have the ability to do so much more now. We can do the Jump Suits [armoured exoskeletons from Heinlein’s novel], for example, which I don’t think they could have done before.”

IndieWire reported in January 2014 that screenwriter Zack Stentz (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Thor, X-Men: First Class) had commented on Twitter that this reboot would be along the lines of "An Officer & A Gentleman (1982) in power armor."

The part of me that loves Sci-Fi movies is doing a little dance at the prospect of seeing what they can do with the special effects, but the rest of me is cringing at the thought of a stripped down movie with less violence and without the satirical edge. Would you like to know more?

Many fans have already inundated social media with their dismay; taking to twitter or other venues to express their expletive-riddled opinions on how bad an idea they think the remake is. The Wrap’s November 2016 article was kind enough to even capture screen shots to share.

With this project lacking a director and cast, it may be a while yet before it hits a screen near you. It doesn’t seem that the production team’s enthusiasm has waned over time, unfortunately. I’ll probably end up watching it – but from Netflix.

4 – Dune

Original Movie Release Year: 1984
Tag Line: You are about to enter a world where the unexpected, the unknown, and the unbelievable meet.
Production Company: Dino De Laurentiis Company
Executive Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Director: David Lynch
Writers: Frank Herbert, David Lynch
Actors: Francesca Annis, Kyle MacLachlan, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Stewart, Sting, Max von Sydow, Alicia Witt, Dean Stockwell, Siân Phillips, Jürgen Prochnow, Leonardo Cimino, Brad Dourif, Jose Ferrer, Linda Hunt, Freddie Jones, Richard Jordan, Silvana Mangano, Everett McGill
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: Legendary Pictures
Producers: Cale Boyter, Mary Parent, Thomas Tull, Brian Herbert, Kim Herbert, Byron Merritt
Writers: Josh Zetumer & Chase Palmer no longer with project
Director: Denis Villeneuve

Why can’t they just let the Spice flow the way it always has?!

The original movie might not have been perfect, but it was among sci-fi groundbreakers. So many cinema projects for big and small screens alike have been influenced by this work. Sure, David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Lost Highway) is a little out there and his projects always have something slightly askew about them – but that’s part of what draws people to his work.

There was just something magical about gargantuan sandworms in the mix with Sting (Julia and Julia, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Patrick Stewart (Green Room, Christmas Eve, Blunt Talk).

Let’s get real, though. With the advances in effects technology, and the expansive and complicated universe the stories of Dune; there is a massive trove of material to pull from for a whole franchise worth of production and the means to make it spectacular – if handled correctly. There’s talk of a TV series as well as a movie, though no details have yet been released about that.  Author of the Dune novels, Frank Herbert  (1920–1986), continues his Spice legacy through his son, who has continued to write Dune stories in his father’s footsteps.

It’s official that Arrival’s (2016) Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario), has signed on with Legendary Pictures to direct here.

As this moves forward, I can only hope that this production team elevates what has come before rather than just taking a modern cookie cutter to the material.

3 – Highlander

Original Movie Release Year: 1986
Tag Line: There can be only one.
Production Companies: Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment, Highlander Productions Limited, Davis-Panzer Productions
Executive Producer: E.C. Monell
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Writers: Gregory Widen, Peter Bellwood, Larry Ferguson
Actors:  Christopher Lambert, Roxanne Hart, Clancy Brown, Sean Connery, Beatie Edney, Alan North, Jon Polito, Sheila Gish, Hugh Quarshie, Christopher Malcolm, Peter Diamond,
Genre: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
Rated: R

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: Davis-Panzer Productions, Original Film
Producers: Peter Davis, Neil Moritz
Director: Chad Stahelski

If hearing about one of the previous potential remakes had me seeing red, when I heard about this one I swear I had steam coming out of my ears.

I love Highlander. All of it. I love the sequels that missed the mark and absolutely adored the TV series. I even subscribed to the Highlander catalogue at one point and have the whole VHS set of the first season of the series. My bonus prize for completing that collection was a wicked looking display dagger with Celtic knotwork on the hilt.

Regardless of how they goofed things up with the franchise, they also got a lot right and the concept itself is riveting. It sucks you in. I honestly don’t know how they’re going to pull this off. Who in the world are they going to get to play Connor MacLeod?

This project has been through the wringer in the past decade or so. Names such as Dave Bautista (Riddick, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spectre) and Ryan Reynolds (Safe House, Self/less, Deadpool) have been attached to the project in one form or another and then have dropped out. Writers and directors have come and gone.

I’ll give them one thing – this production team is a persistent lot.  

In the last few weeks, an announcement was made. John Wick (2014) director, Chad Stahelski (The Hunger Games, Hitman: Agent 47, The Brothers Grimsby) has signed on for this remake.

I am resigned to the fact that this thing will probably happen. I was absolutely disgusted with just the concept – until I read the Collider article featuring an interview with the freshly minted director.

There is hope that this guy can get this right. If it absolutely is going to happen, perhaps it’s fallen into the right hands. This isn’t just going to be a single movie. They’re grooming the project to relaunch the entire franchise, it seems. He claims it has little to do with money but is more in being passionate about the story, itself.  He’s a fan – a big fan.

This excerpt from the interview with Stahelski gives a bit of a peek through the lens he’s using to view the world of the Immortals: “I think the TV series hit on a lot of great stuff wasn’t in the feature, between the watchers and all the different types of immortals. How do we get this into a feature mode before we dribble it into the TV world? Well, let’s restructure it in parts, let’s look at it like it was a TV show, let’s look at it like it was a high-end trilogy. How to we tell the story of the gathering the quickenings, the immortals and how do we really build this world out even more so than the original project. That’s what we’re restructuring right now. It’s taking all the good stuff that we had before I was involved in the project from the script; redeveloping the script to give us really good chapters one, two and three; and expanding the world…”

So it looks like the script is back to the drawing boards. A cast likely won’t be sought until that stage is complete. The article goes on to explain how he connects to the music in the original property and his intention to stay true to that going forward. I don’t want this guy to be winning me over, but damnit he is.

So this one is a monumental “we’ll see.”

2 – Little Shop of Horrors

Original Movie Release Year: 1986
Tag Line: A Singing Plant. A Daring Hero. A Sweet Girl. A Demented Dentist.
Production Companies: The Geffen Company
Executive Producer: David Geffen
Director: Frank Oz
Writers: Howard Ashman, Roger Corman, Charles B. Griffith
Actors: Levi Stubbs, Rick Moranis, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Tichina Arnold, Michelle Weeks, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Jim Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest, Bill Murray, Stan Jones,
Genre: Comedy, Family, Musical
Rated: PG-13

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: Warner Bros.
Executive Producer: Marc Platt
Writer: Matthew Robinson
Director: Greg Berlanti
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (rumored)

These days Greg Berlanti (Life as We Know It, Haunted, Pan) is the King Midas of the DC cinematic universe’s television branch. The shows he’s helming as producer are golden. I love and watch most of them.

I just don’t understand why he would want to sign on to direct a musical remake like this. Unfortunately, this is official. Deadline Hollywood broke the story in December 2016.

No. Just No. Why? Is this what the world really needs right now? Apparently the Warner Brothers studio thinks so. 

I can’t even seem to come up with a good devil’s advocate pitch as to why anyone should even give this a shot.

1 – Labyrinth

Original Movie Release Year: 1986
Tag Line: A' mazing tale of never-ending fantasy.
Production Companies: Henson Associates, Lucasfilm, Jim Henson Company, Delphi V Productions, TriStar Pictures
Executive Producers: David Lazer, George Lucas
Director: Jim Henson
Writers: Jim Henson, Dennis Lee, Terry Jones
Actors: David Bowie, Jennifer Connelly, Toby Froud, Shelley Thompson, Christopher Malcolm, Shari Weiser, Brian Henson, Ron Mueck, Rob Mills, Dave Goelz, David Alan Barclay. David Shaughnessy, Karen Prell, Frank Oz, Denise Bryer, Kenny Baker, Warwick Davis
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Rated: PG

Here’s what we know about the new one:
Production Company: The Jim Henson Company (TriStar Pictures Dist.)
Executive Producer: Lisa Henson (CEO of her father's company)
Writer: Nicole Perlman

Before you start flipping tables, let me first share some good news. This one is the only one on this list that isn’t really a remake.

In January 2016, reports of the Labyrinth “remake” started circulating via articles published by the likes of Cinemablend and The Wrap. Of course, with the timing of these articles with the proximity of the passing of the legendary David Bowie (Zoolander, The Prestige, August), social media erupted in a storm of criticism.

I’ll be the first to admit that I fell for it, initially. After doing some research into the project, however; I can assure you that no one intends to try and remake that classic 80s movie. The production team has too much reverence and respect for the original to attempt to desecrate its legacy in that way.

Talks were underway to revisit the world of the original movie and expand the story in a new visit as early as 2014, so it’s not something that’s happened just recently. It most definitely wasn’t a studio grab for money to capitalize on Bowie’s death.

So much backlash has apparently been lobbed in the project’s direction that screenwriter Nicole Perlman (Marvel 75 Years: From Pulp to Pop!, Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy) felt the need to take to twitter to set the record straight. Screenrant’s article was kind enough to post screen grabs of the key parts. The fact that Perlman is respectful of the original movie is very heartening. One of her tweets urged us all to not get sucked in by the false reports: “Guys, please don't fall for all the clickbait. No one is remaking "Labyrinth." That movie is perfect as it is.”

We don’t yet know exactly what will be entailed with this new movie, but it’s safe to say that a sequel is a bit easier to accept than a reboot.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!


  1. Re: The Saint

    It won't be a remake of the 1997 movie. It'll go back to the original source material (nearly 100 books) to bring the character into the 21st century.

    Travis Wright is not involved. He was hired by RKO to write a remake of the old RKO movies but that went nowhere.

    The Saint's Vacation wasn't a book, it was one of the old RKO films. There have been fifteen features, three TV series, ten radio series and a comic strip that was syndicated around the world for over a decade so as you say, plenty of source material.

    1. Hi Ian,

      You're right. Travis Wright is no longer the screenwriter for this project. MovieInsider still lists him, but as being formerly involved with the project.

      In regards to The Saint's Vacation, apologies for the confusion. Vacation may not have been a book, but it was a piece among the IMDb writing credits for The Saint's author, Leslie Charteris; and was selected at random as an example of her work that has made it into some form of media production via film, television, or stage.

      Thanks for the correction! I hope you enjoyed the rest of the article!