Those of you who were hoping that Hollywood’s 1980s remake fever was starting to abate… well, this story isn’t for you.
A remake of the 1987 hit Dirty Dancing has been in the works since at least 2009 – and, just like the reworking of fellow 80s relic Short Circuit, studio heads are hoping to jump-start development of the project by hiring on a new director.
Deadline has learned that original Dirty Dancing choreographer Kenny Ortega has landed the job of helming the remake. Nowadays, Ortega is better known as the helmer/dance supervisor of squeaky-clean Disney musicals like Newsies and all three High School Musical movies.
Jennifer Grey – who recently re-teamed with Ortega for her winning routine on Dancing With the Stars – and Patrick Swayze starred in the original Dirty Dancing, which was an immensely lucrative undertaking ($6 million cost, $214 million worldwide gross) back in the 80s. A sequel with a different cast was eventually released, titled Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, in 2004. Suffice it to say, lightning didn’t strike twice.
Dirty Dancing features an “opposites attract” romantic plot that revolves around Grey’s spoiled rich girl and Swayze as the smooth dance instructor, who teams up with her for some risque moves on (and off) the dance floor. The remake will presumably not deviate far from that tried-and-true formula.
Like every upcoming or in-development 80s movie remake out there, Ortega’s Dirty Dancing will attempt to appeal to a new generation of moviegoers by offering an updated and “contemporary” spin on its predecessor. Here, the now overused “darker and grittier” approach wouldn’t make so much sense – rather, the “more hip and gritty” tactic that this year’s Footloose remake appears to be employing is probably more akin to what Ortega has in mind.
Don’t expect Dirty Dancing to be too “edgy”, though. Ortega was presumably hired in part because of his proven track record, when it comes to designing song & dance pictures with more family-friendly appeal. So his remake could end up feeling like a “nicer” version of, say, the Step Up movies, when all is said and done.
Just for the record: as last year’s Karate Kid remake demonstrated, not all re-workings of famous 80s titles are necessarily doomed to become stains on their predecessor’s legacy – sometimes, they even turn out to be solid films that stand out on their own. Best to keep that in mind while reading about Dirty Dancing, RoboCop, WarGames, or any of the other 80s remakes on the horizon.
Dirty Dancing is currently being fast-tracked for production. As always, we’ll keep you posted.
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