Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?

Published 6 years ago by

sequels and remakes header Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?

Now to start off no one can say that remakes and sequels are a new thing – it’s a notion that has been around for almost a hundred years. The first example of either (that I could find) being 1916′s Fall of a Nation (a sequel to the of 1915 film Birth of a Nation).

But lately (perhaps over the last 15 years or so), they have come not only to full fruition and thus extremely noticeable as a trend – but also they seem to be getting made left, right and center. Now why is that? Why is that it’s only recently that it’s become so popular to remake or make a sequel out of something?

Well let’s start with remakes…

The earliest remake (again, that I could find – I apologize if I’ve overlooked something) is 1919′s Marked Men (a remake of the 1916 film The Three Godfathers) but around that time not that many films were being made in general (certainly when compared to how many get made nowadays) and thus even fewer were remakes. And chances are at the time (and for a couple of decades after that) people didn’t know that if a movie was a remake of another, and even if they did they probably didn’t care.

But fast forward to the 21st century and the number of remakes done and in development (or even in the idea stage) has skyrocketed. Most recently it’s been the horror genre that’s been targeted for this. The reason for this is threefold; horror movies are popular in general (even if they suck), they’re relatively cheap to make (certainly in comparison to the almost guaranteed return at the box office) and they come with a built in audience who love the originals. So in that respect it’s understandable why studios would do this.

halloween then now Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?
The cast of Halloween then and now

But the trouble lies in the ease of making these horror remakes, and how pretty much every time they make a profit on them – it seems to have gone to the studio’s heads. It seems now that little effort and creativity go into them because they know they can make money even if they don’t strive for top-notch quality.

Remember when we had masterpieces of horror that marked their place in cinema history of all-time greats? The Shining, The Thing (which was a remake, by the way. See – it can be done), Rosemary’s Baby, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs….the list goes on and on.

I know I’m focusing on horror a lot here but it proves my point. Just as a glimpse, and to illustrate what I mean, here is a list of just some of the horror remakes so far in the 21st century.

  • The Amityville Horror
  • Black Christmas
  • Dark Water
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • The Grudge
  • The Hills Have Eyes
  • Mirrors
  • The Omen
  • One Missed Call
  • The Ring
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

And that’s just a small percentage of the bigger picture so far, and it doesn’t even touch the projects still in development/idea stage like A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Birds, Rob Zombie’s sequel to his horrible version of Halloween and even a remake of Child’s Play is being talked about.

the fog orig remake Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?
The Fog: The (creepy) original and the (lame) remake

The term “going back to the well” doesn’t even begin to cover it…

And then we have sequels…

Sequels are just as tempting for studios to make oh so flippantly as they do, particularly if the first one made a ton of money. Although even if a film didn’t, they seem to make them anyway just on the hope the sequel will do better. But again the trouble is the studios make sequels because they’re easy, plus they have name recognition right off the bat.

Some sequels are indeed made because the original truly warranted one, some are originally planned to be made as part of a story arc (i.e. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings), but a lot of the time they are just made plainly for the sake of it. To make money on a pretty much automatic basis – that’s expected; the movie business is after all a business, is it not?

speed speed2 Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?
Speed and (the unnecessary) Speed 2

But as a film fan it’s really disheartening to see Hollywood go back to the well so often with sequels and remakes. They do have a couple of advantages, such as introducing new generations to classic films (although chances are they’ll now accept the remake or sequel as canon) and perhaps stimulating audiences who may have let the originals slip from their mind to go watch those again – but for the most part film fans know that these are remakes and it kind of takes the magic out of the whole thing when you can tell they’re just making these movies purely for money’s sake.

Now I’m not saying all sequels and remakes are a bad idea; history has shown they can be done really well with just as much time and effort put into them as originals, resulting in a truly quality film (sometimes, but not always, superior to the originals) – Ocean’s Eleven, Scarface, Cape Fear, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Manchurian Candidate, Evil Dead II, Aliens, Back To The Future Part II, The Godfather Part II and X2: X-Men United, to name but a few.

alien aliens Remakes And Sequels: Have We Reached Overload Yet?
Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in Alien and the amazing sequel Aliens

And I’m also not saying that sequels and remakes are the only things that get made nowadays. The sheer number of movies in general that get put out now means that more original work is getting put out than unoriginal – but it’s just the sequels and remakes get the limelight because of the aforementioned name recognition and high profile nature of a lot of them.

But even so there are still too many being made, certainly too many of those that are just made for the sake of making money, riding on the coat-tails of the originals.

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  1. And now they are remaking Never Ending Story…

    Oh, and you need to add T2 to the list of good sequels. Along with T3 as a bad one to show how sometimes a sequel can work but two sequels won’t, lol. :-D

  2. I’d rather see another sequel to Neverending story. I find it warranted, since, the title proves, its admittedly Neverending. Perhaps Bastian has grown up, and has a son(whose name is just as outrageously awesome) that stumbles upon an old book his father keeps in the attic. And, perhaps, after his son is pulled into the tale and goes missing, Bastian must re-enter the magical realm to find his son, re-teaming with Falcor and finding the grown Atreyu ruling the lands, alongside the Empress. And maybe there’ll be a lesson involved, like Bastian and his wife were having problems, and she returns when the son goes missing and when Bastian returns with the boy all is well, and everyone’s richer for the experience(seriously, why is someone not paying me right now?)

  3. I swear , If Hollywood made money with a movie that ended with The Big Bang and the creation of Earth
    They would say “dinosaurs for the sequel.”

  4. I come here having just discovered “The Boondock Saints II”…. I hang my head in shame. Hopefully soon, people will start coming up with some original ideas and we can just forget this ever happened. Then again, I can’t help but wonder what Shrek is up to these days…

    Why don’t we just name every film “The land before Time” and get it over with.

  5. What’s worse is Hollywood’s remake of classic TV shows. Bewitched, The Honeymooners, etc. I feel sorry for those shows because they are probably the most butchered source material of all.

  6. i actually am tired of remakes b/c they trade plot for special effects (TDTESS) and usually suck compared to the original, but there are exceptions to that like THE THING, THE FLY REMAKE, and THE MUMMY, granted the sequel to the fly was crap(imo) and the sequels to the mummy were no crap(except the third) but still inferior.

  7. Ross,
    Did you realy say that Back to the Future II was better than the original??? or did I just read that wrong.

    And then what about movies that begged for a sequel (or completion to the story) that never happened? Many will disagree, but Fifth Element should have had a sequel (now it’s far too late)- I even read on Wiki that the writer split one story in two (ala Kill Bill). Not that the first isn’t good as a stand-alone, I thought even after the first viewing that there has to be more to it.

  8. The Mad Max movies got better each time I felt.

    The perfect word is flippant. You get the feeling so many of these remakes and sequels are done without passion and just for the sake of cashing in.
    If people have a story to tell then it works. If not, it is just pap.

  9. @ Panda,

    No I didn’t say it was, I was just listing a few GOOD sequels. If you notice – “(sometimes, BUT NOT ALWAYS, superior to the originals)”

  10. @steven

    Road Warrior was better than the original. Beyond Thunderdome? No. Not at all.

    @Ross Miller

    While I agree most sequels and remakes suck, I think the same thing can be said for original movies, too.

    Plenty of original movies suck, too. I think that we just notice the sequels/remakes more because, as you said, they get the spotlight at the theaters.

  11. I actually like sequels usually. I don’t think there should be less even if some of them suck. Working with that idea if you look at the number of movies released per year and how many are actually good you could say maybe we should have less movies because so many suck. Doing less doesn’t mean the ones that get done are more likely to be good in fact more than likely the bad one will be the ones that get made.

  12. I also have no issues with sequels as long as they are of the same quality (or better) than the original or at the very least stick to the source material. Because for me, I enjoy movies for their characters, so it’s always nice to see the characters I like on screen again. What I’m getting a bit sick of are remakes. Remakes of bad movies with potential I understand, but it seems like it’s remake after remake after remake, and it started out good where the remakes were better than the original, but now so many remakes are much worse…

    @ Panda

    I would love to see Milla and Brucey on screen again as LeeLoo and Dallas, but I kind of disagree that the STORY needed a sequel. They completely defeated that “evil force” thingy, they didn’t just stop it temperarily, so I think it would be hard to find a good plot for it. Remember the Fifth Element, aka Leeloo, was created purely to complete that weapon to destroy that thing when it came time for it to come and destroy life. Once that task is completed, there’s really nothing else for her to do.

    I mean, she still can kick ass, so I guess they can do some random superhero stuff, but it won’t be the same.

  13. I think ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was one of the best sequels ever!
    Especially considering it came after a movie that just couldn’t be topped.

    ‘The Road Warrior’ was better than Mad Max if for no other reason than them letting Gibson speak his own lines without a voice-over the entire film.

    Remaking ‘The Thing’ and ‘Fahrenheit 451′ is unacceptable and inexcusable IMO.

  14. Which “The Thing” remake are you speaking of? The new one they are thinking of making or the Kurt Russell one?

  15. Hmmm, I do like Beyond Thunderdome a lot, if nothing else, for that little bloke who just won’t die. :)

    Road Warrior, more straight forward action, less kids talking daft. So can see what you mean.

    Also there’s the Dollars trilogy with Eastwood. Those got better, if personally I prefer For A Few Dollars More. Il Nino is nuts.

  16. I agree that tv shows turned to movies have largely not worked, at least from what I’ve seen. It seems they do better when the movie is a sequel to the show like Serenity.

  17. wes, Serenity was not a sequel to the show. It was a redoing of the show. They actually changed a few things about the timeline for it to fit, like how River and her brother got aboard the ship and stuff like that…

  18. Sorry Ken, I don’t think Serenity was a “redoing” of Firefly. The bit with River and her brother getting on the ship was simply filling in the backstory, not totally changing anything.


  19. With the cost of movies I think nowdays you have to have something to hook the backers with. They just won’t take a chance on anything without some kind of name recognition.

    Horror has always suffered from sequelitis though. Look at all the Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman and Mummy sequels of the forties/fifties

  20. Vic, if you remember from the tv show, the crew of Serenity DID NOT help him rescue River. He snuck River onto the ship as cargo. Unless I’m remembering Serenity wrong, they did show that Serenity was hoisting him up along with River right?

  21. I’ll watch that part again when I get home from work.

  22. @ ken j

    there’s an old horror movie called the thing, before the Kurt Russell one, it’s a classic if you’re into horror movies, the monster was a big dude with prostetics/makeup, ala Frankenstein/mummy
    though i could be wrong

  23. I know almanza, that’s why I’m asking Jess to clarify WHICH remake she was referring to when she said The Thing. Whether she is saying the REMAKE with Kurt Russell is unnecessary, or the new remake of that remake they are thinking about making… Because the Kurt Russell one would be the first remake, the new one they are talking about would be a second remake, so I don’t know which remake she is saying they shouldn’t do or have done.

  24. @Vic

    OK, I just watched it again, and apparently I was just seeing the Serenity because that’s what I expected to see, lol. It was just some shuttle craft apparently that lifts them out of the shaft, so yah, you’re right, it’s a sequel, not a remake. My mistake. I remember the show quite well, guess I have forgotten that part of the movie a little.

  25. Holy hell, they should do another Serenity, and get Firefly back on the air(all new episodes, son!)

  26. Hey, if you can find a network willing to finance a cancelled show, we’ll be back in business.

  27. A good sequel was Guyver 2 Dark Hero, much better than the first Guyver. I think where sequels go wrong is the length of time it takes to make the sequel. Granted not all tht come years later are bad (RAMBO), but some have been a let down on some level (Indy and the Crystal Skull). The same holds true for remakes, some are bad, and some are decent. Most hollywood remakes of japanese horror films suck, and I wish Hollywood would stop remaking them into PG-13 crap fests. I think the John Carpenter remake of the Thing is fine and does not need to be remade, a sequel much like the 2001 Game The Thing would go over much better. Remakes usually fail to capture the essence of the original, the halloween remake did little justice to the original version. Friday the 13th was decent for what is, but was lacking a certain feel, and turned into the predictable slasher movie post 80s slasher films. So I guess in conclusion on remakes updating and retooling the storyline/persona of characters can make or break the remake. But then again remakes aren’t for the older generation who appreciate what it was then. If they Re-remake the Thing or the Howling they better not butcher it. Sequels need to have some thought behind them besides cash which yes is ultimately the bottom line but then again Hollywood still green lights the Movie spoofs (Scary after 2, Disaster) and that needs to stop.