The Top 5 Rules For Movie Remakes

Published 4 years ago by , Updated June 25th, 2014 at 11:32 am,

fright night The Top 5 Rules For Movie Remakes

This article was prompted by news that Sony is looking for writers to do a new version of the campy 1985 horror flick Fright Night, an idea that readers of Screen Rant might be surprised to hear I’m not against.

For the most part, I despise Hollywood’s habit of remaking past films. Sure sometimes it works (The Departed, Ocean’s 11, The Thomas Crown Affair, Scarface), but for the vast majority it doesn’t (Planet of the Apes, The Poseiden Adventure, The Pink Panther, Point of No Return, Sabrina, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc., etc., etc.), and is just a blatant and often creatively bankrupt attempt at cashing in on the name of some past, well-known movie.

So having said that, when is it okay to remake a film? If it’s done well, I don’t have a problem with remakes of original films that meet any of the following criteria:


1. Stories in the public domain that have already had multiple movie remakes done.

Movies based on classic stories like The Three Musketeers, Dracula, Frankenstein, etc. These have been remade so many times already that you can’t really logically argue against another one, and sometimes a newer version turns out to be quite good.

2. The original is terribly dated in either setting or pacing and style.

In this category you’ll find movies like Ocean’s 11 and The Thomas Crown Affair. I’ve watched both the original versions and the remakes and while I’m no fan of the seizure-inducing, quick-cut filming style used in so many movies today, the pacing in some movies from the late 60′s/early 70′s was so slow that it could put you in a coma.

3. The original is not terribly well known or beloved.

Let me start off by saying that there is a special place reserved in Hell for the person that ever gets a remake of Casablanca produced. Some movies should just be off limits. Period. Movies that are a part of the fabric of the history of cinema should just be left alone, if for no other reason than because they have withstood the test of time and are still considered excellent and extremely enjoyable today. In addition to Casablanca I would add It’s a Wonderful Life, 12 Angry Men, The Maltese Falcon (yes, I know the Humphrey Bogart version is a remake, but let’s leave it alone now, shall we?) and of course, Citizen Kane. There are many others, but you get the gist.

4. The remake does in fact bring something new while respecting the original.

Here we have movies like Cape Fear, The Magnificent Seven and The Thing. Each of these was a remake that brought something fresh to the original story, whether in concept or execution.

5. The original was basically pretty cheesy or tongue-in-check in tone and most folks wouldn’t care if it was remade.

Little Shop of Horrors and even Eight Legged Freaks as a new twist on the classic giant-ant movie Them. This is the category where I think a remake of Fright Night fits: It was pretty campy and didn’t take itself too seriously and while it was a fun movie, I don’t think it falls under “untouchable” status. In the right hands it could be quite good, but that’s certainly no guarantee.

So from now on when I rant against some remake, you’ll know that it doesn’t fall under any of the five rules listed above. icon smile The Top 5 Rules For Movie Remakes

What do you think… are there any other criteria under which it’s ok to remake a movie?

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TAGS: fright night

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  1. You forgot one. When the original movie deviated so much from the source material (or was chock-full of errors) and the remake is promised to be much more faithful to the original story then remaking it would probably be much desired by many.

  2. Another rule that seems to be okay in Hollywood is to remake films and series that are originally spoken in any other language than English.
    Or maybe being too lazy to read subtitles (are you?) is just an excuse for making everybody younger and prettier, the heroins blonder and sexier (and softer, in case they’re not), the heroes tougher and sexier, and to cut out all scenes that contain either sex or naked bodies (like a glimpse of someone’s bottom – oh nooooo! Quickly, cover the childrens’ eyes! Those poor babies have never seen a bottom before and will get traumatized instantly! – Come on! Everybody has one…), and have the good guys played by American actors and the bad guys by foreign ones (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!). Really, it’s so childish.

    • The INTERNATIONAL films being remade by AMERICANS. I agree but most people don’t realise, it’s the original producers/directors/writers that are involved in the ENGLISH versions.

      OLDBOY, DEATH AT A FUNERAL, THE RING, GIRL WITH DRAGON TATTOO are all because the original writer/producer was willing to do the newer version. So it’s all about the paycheck to them too :)

  3. Man, I tell you what, I don’t like your bias against cussing. Having said that, The Planet Of The Apes remake sucked donkey testes, Marky Mark couldn’t hold a candle to Charlton Heston, but he was pretty good in Ted.

    Films aren’t made to be works of art anymore, they are only made for profit, and so you have garbage that gets over-hyped, to draw crowds into the “theaters” to pay five times too much for everything, and then you have films like John Carter Of Mars that don’t get the recognition that they deserve. Welcome to the dog & pony show, here, have some cotton candy and a GIANT soda-pop. That will be $55.95 please.

    • Oh how I wish the majority of the movie going public could figure out that one simple fact, and then vote accordingly by staying at home. Instead ppl are so starved for entertainment, or so accustomed to having media tell them what they should see, that many deserving films no longer stand a chance in todays climate.

    • Apparently yours and the critics opinions on it are in a minority, because Tim Burton’s Apes was a financial success that would have spawned a sequel had they not decided instead to reboot the franchise.

  4. Did you forget there was a remake of 12 Angry Men? And it was pretty awesome!
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118528/

  5. vwry nice

  6. I thought Sabrina with Harrison Ford was a much better remake of the original one.

    I watched the Original and just couldn’t stand it. Cooking school, all of it… just eww…

    The new Sabrina, when she comes home, she’s a transformed butterfly. I’m a huge Harrison Ford fan, and Sabrina is my favorite movie he’s ever done. My wife of 14 years and I find ourselves quoting it to each other all the time.

  7. hey i found a list on ranker that was linked this bit. it maybe worth looking at. it would give you an idea of what a peace of the random public would want to see remade.

  8. The Thing is NOT a remake. It’s a faithful version of the same short story that that 1951 movie is based on. NOT a remake.

  9. No problem with remakes for me. If I like them, it’s a good thing. If I don’t like them, no problem. If I liked the original, I’ve still got that one. Sometimes I like the remake just as much (True Grit), sometimes I like the remake more (Let Me In), sometimes I like the remake less (Fright Night). Doesn’t hurt anything to remake something.

  10. I agree on the thing about some movies being dated, but many remakes they do the movies didn’t really need like Charlie and chocalate factory that wasn’t dated.

    Oh here’s something bad

    there are two cartoon versions of the movie titanic, and they are both terrible. I wouldn’t watch them if I were you , but there is a review by the nostalgia critic on youtube showing a few scenes, if anyone wants to see how bad they are.

  11. One big thing that must be remembered is older (original) movies from the 1950s and before to early 1970s were made in an era of time when there was such a thing as “political correctness” when it came to movies. Movies were governed by a bunch of rules & lists of what is allowed and not allowed, A group called the MPAA (Motion Picture Association) that rates films were not as “easy going” and “lenient” back in those days. And as it is today with the M.P.A loosening up on the restrictions, Things like cursing language, Violence, Blood & gore have been brought into remakes to mek the effects more “appealing” With that said… I think that with all the remakes being done, the “modern day” producers & directors have a tendency to go way off the main idea of the original they change the story lines, story settings and movie Characters and even movie plot so much it just takes away from the original intent the original story writer had in the first place…. A good example of this was The Day the Earth Stood still.. if you watch the original 1951 version and then the modern 2008 version, you can only see about 2-3 similarities that remain constant throughout the films, you can see the changes made in the storyline and Character plots as well … Let alone the new version left out many key parts that played out in the movies main plot. All those changes were a big disappointment for me as I was looking forward to seeing a great remake of the film seeing as the original was & is my all time favorite “older” Sci-Fi movie

  12. Funny you mention It’s a wonderful Life. That has to be one of the most remade movies ever, if you allow for variations as far out a kermit the frog in the lead role. i wonder if any movie beats it besides A Christmas Carol?

    • One more rule: re-makes should make sure they GET THE POINT!!! For example, if you’ve seen the original version of “The Day the Earth Stood Still” then you understand the title. If you haven’t seen the original, but you’ve seen the Keanu Reeves version then the title makes no sense because the remake didn’t get the point of the title – there was no ‘day the earth stood still’ in the remake.

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