The Karate Kid Remake Scores High with Test Audiences

I am still befuddled( I love that word) by the sheer amount of loathing directed at Sony’s remake of the 1984 Karate Kid film starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. I hate remakes as much as the next guy, but since I don’t have a say in whether they get made or not, I figure I might as well try to enjoy them. When the announcement from Sony came in 2008 that they would be remaking The Karate Kid and calling it The Kung Fu Kid, I wasn’t too keen on the idea.

Then came the announcement about who would be starring in the film, Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, and I let out an audible groan. Not because of Chan - I’m a huge fan and have seen just about everything he has done (including his recent film, The Spy Next Door) – but because of Smith. Young Jaden has yet to really prove himself in a film and as a lead actor. He was merely OK as second fiddle to his dad, Will Smith, in Pursuit of Happyness and he was completely annoying in The Day the Earth Stood Still – but to be fair that entire move was annoying.

Then come some behind the scenes pictures, a poster and then finally a trailer. I watched it with an open mind and I found myself surprisingly enjoying it. Harold Zwart (The Pink Panther) really seemed to give us a feel of how the martial arts training would be for Dre (Jaden Smith). Gone were the “Paint the fence” and “Wax on, wax off” mantra all of us kids in the 80s had become attached to. Instead we have “Put on your jacket” and “Pick up your jacket”, which honestly I don’t think will become the latest catch phrase for youngsters.

Soon after the seething comments of hatred came pouring forth like lava from some angry volcano. Everything from “Jaden is too young” and “he can’t act” to “China is Kung Fu not Karate” and “He could never learn enough Kung Fu to beat kids that have studied it all their lives.” All valid arguments for picking on a film, I’ll agree, but are they valid enough to draw the ire of movie fanboys everywhere? Apparently Sony surfs the blogs as well and they did a test screening for The Karate Kid to see how bad it might actually be.

The Karate Kid 2 Dre and Mr. Han

To their surprise, it scored as the second-highest research screening ever out of Sony films, with positive scores in the 97th percentile. That’s right, if 100 people watched the film, only 3 gave it a bad review! For your information, Hitch scored Sony’s highest ever research screening at just above 97 – like father like son perhaps?

So what does all this mean? Well, some could argue that they filled the room with only people that like Jackie Chan, Jaden Smith and kids doing karate kung fu martial arts. That could be true, but I highly doubt it. Sony would want a true representation of how the current version of the movie will perform, so they could re-edit if necessary. If they were to purposely skew the results, it wouldn’t do anything but harm them at the Box Office.

I’m very curious now to see how this movie performs opening weekend and I think it just might surprise everyone. The Karate Kid will have to go against another blast from the 80s past, The A-Team, that same weekend -  but both films are striving to reach very different audiences.  The Karate Kid is obviously aimed at the “pre-teen to young teen and their parents” crowd, while The A-Team is geared more for the 18-35 male audience.

Does hearing how test audiences enjoyed watching The Karate Kid remake sway your opinion on the film or will you be waiting outside the theater opening weekend with picket signs and rotten vegetables?

The Karate Kid high kicks into theaters June 11th, 2010.

Source: The Hollywood Insider

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