Remakes and reboots continue to populate the Hollywood film release slate, with no signs of anything else—that is, something new—squeezing in to try and find an audience. While this practice theoretically guarantees a certain box office haul for a film courtesy of a built-in audience, it also risks the anger of the zeitgeist. Can’t studios just leave well enough alone?
Apparently not, except perhaps when it comes to these properties. The movies detailed herein have, as of yet anyway, avoided the remake or reboot treatment. For some, it’s not due to lack of trying: Hollywood has attempted reboots on some of these properties, only to see them get stuck in Development Hell. For others, unsuccessful sequels, or attempts at sequels, have stalled any hopes for a full-blown remake. In short, fans can breathe a sigh of relief, at least for now… nobody is touching their beloved movies in any inappropriate ways.
At least for now. The day may yet come when every movie to ever play on a screen gets rebooted, remade, spun-off and sequelized. Tinsel town might develop a full-blown allergy to creativity and originality, and demand that storytellers go make movies on their own for the dream factory to then rip off, and often times, ruin. Still, for the moment, say a prayer and breathe a sigh of relief, since these are 15 Reboots That Hollywood Hasn’t Attempted…Yet!
15 Logan’s Run
The original Logan’s Run starring Michael York and Jenny Augtter became a cult hit after its release in 1976. A weird, sexual take on dystopian future stories, the movie envisioned a youth-dominated society where computerized population control puts everyone to death at age 30. Surprisingly, given the youth-oriented storyline and opportunity for insane production design—not to mention revealing costumes for perfect-bodied actors—Logan’s Run hasn’t fallen victim to the reboot onslaught. That’s not for lack of trying, either.
X-Men maestro Bryan Singer has long shown interest in rebooting Logan’s Run, as has parent studio Warner Bros. A remake went into development in the 1990s, with the intention of making the story closer to the original source novel, the first in a series. The movie would also serve as a spring board for future sequels based on the other literary outings. Singer found himself distracted by Superman Returns, and later, his return to the X-Men films. Singer has since left the project, with Warners turning to Bioshock creator Ken Levine to script the film. To date, little progress has been made.
14 The Exorcist
With The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the like all getting rebooted, could the Scariest Movie of All Time be far behind? The original The Exorcist became a cultural touchstone, spawning countless imitators at three sequels (four if you count the two very different versions of Part IV). Fox has since announced that a TV series loosely based on the film, though subsequent comments from the producers have implied it will have sequel qualities.
Maybe Fox is showing some wisdom. The Exoricst continues to shock audiences more than 40 years after its initial release. Rebooting the series could not only damage the legacy of the original, but also prove a colossal embarrassment, much as the sequels all did. With the majority of the original cast still alive and working today, Warner Bros. would need to court their opinion and obtain their blessings on a new film version to avoid any negative press. For audiences, some movies will always remain sacred…even the film's about Satan.
13 The Godfather
Despite the glut of mobster movies that The Godfather helped usher in, not to mention TV shows like The Sopranos, none have come close to matching the richness and grandeur of the original film trilogy. Granted, Part III didn’t quite live up to the legacy of the first two outings, in part due to studio pressures. Still, the movie received good box office returns, and a tie-in video game released in 2006 sold well and received strong reviews. Why has Hollywood not rebooted The Godfather then, as a Lord of the Rings style epic trilogy?
Perhaps Coppola knows to protect his own legacy. The director lodged protest upon release of the 2006 game claiming that he’d not been notified of the game’s development. The estate of Mario Puzo, who wrote the original novel and would work with Coppola on the screenplay, also sued and won a large portion of the game profits. Studio Paramount probably took the reaction of Puzo’s estate and Coppola to heart—rebooting the series could pose massive problems for the studio. Besides, with Coppola and most of the cast of the film series still alive, Paramount has long hoped for a Part IV to the epic trilogy. Avoiding a reboot keeps those hopes alive.
12 Gone With The Wind
Oft-cited as one of the greatest movies of all time, Gone with the Wind changed cinema, no doubt, thanks to a lavish production, thoughtful script and stellar performances. The epic—and very long original novel—still holds possibilities and characters that the original film ignored. In an era of turgid runtimes and needlessly breaking hit books into multiple films, why has tinsel town not returned to its roots and remade Gone with the Wind?
Again, wiser heads have prevailed. Remaking a film as iconic as Gone with the Wind could spell disaster for all involved, should the public reject it. Hollywood has precedent to believe that the public does not want to revisit Rhett, Scarlett, et. al. Sequel novels to Gone with the Wind have met with an overwhelmingly negative reception, as did a 1990s miniseries. Scarlett starred Timothy Dalton and Joanne Whalley and picked up the story where Gone with the Wind left off. It debuted to viscous reviews and audience indifference, and is often cited as one of the worst telefilms in history. The hostility directed toward Scarlett clued in Hollywood: Gone with the Wind is a miracle of a movie. Nobody should touch it!
11 Mary Poppins
Disney recently announced a long-awaited sequel to its 1964 triumph, Mary Poppins. The studio had long wanted a sequel, but strained relations between Walt Disney and author P.L. Travers crushed any chance of a follow-up. Travers’ longevity also affected sequel plans. So disgusted with the 1964 film, she forbade any further Hollywood outings based on her work.
Following Travers’ death in 1996, Disney immediately began working to revitalize one of their signature properties, beginning with the long-running stage musical Mary Poppins in 2004. Around the same time, Disney’s film division also began considering bring Poppins back to the screen…this time as a reboot.
During its brief stint in development, Maria Poppins would have reimagined the Mary Poppins story set in contemporary Los Angeles. Instead of a proper British governess, the title character would become a sultry Latina nanny! Needless to say, the project never got very far, perhaps because Disney realized that taking the series in such a different direction would prove a disaster. Instead, the studio has decided to move ahead with a sequel starring Emily Blunt, which the producers routinely stress is not a reboot.
Fritz Lang made a masterpiece with his silent 1927 epic, Metropolis. Using groundbreaking special effects, the director created a city of the future dominated by wealthy business owners, and in which the poor have become little more than human fuel to industry. The design and themes of the film continue to have a wide-reaching effect, influencing everything from Superman comics to Blade Runner. Why then, has Hollywood resisted remaking the movie?
For starters—and for a bit of irony—the themes of corporate exploitation of workers, wealthy elitism and propaganda resonate even more strongly now than they did in 1927! For a megalithic, ultra-wealthy, snobbish place like Hollywood to try and denounce the attitudes which run rampant within its signature industry would come off hypocritical at best. Metropolis also has enjoyed consistent popularity over the years, including a number of restorations which have prompted revivals of the film on cinema screens. Despite the apparent hands-off approach though, Metropolis may yet get the remake treatment: the rights to a remake sold to producer Thomas Schühly in 2007.
9 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Few movies achieve the kind of pop-culture legend as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which opened to rave reviews and strong business in 1986.The film helped launch the careers of Matthew Broderick, Jennifer Gray and Alan Ruck, and continues to enchant audiences three decades after it originally played in cinemas. Given the popularity of the title, why has Hollywood not tried to reboot Ferris with a teen heartthrob of the moment?
Maybe the lack of reboot has something to do with an undiscussed part of the movie’s legacy: sequels. Writer-director John Hughes and Matthew Broderick stayed in close touch after the film’s release, and both were game to film another adventure of Ferris and his friends. Then the two came to a realization: part of the charm of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is that it is about a teenager, and the rebellion of high school students. Doing a sequel with Ferris in college or out in the world would lose the charm of the original. Furthermore, NBC tried to do a prequel series, following Ferris’ adventures prior to the events of Day Off. Despite a cast that included Charlie Schlatter and Jennifer Aniston, the show met cancellation after one season.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is about a special moment in American history—the rise of Generation X—and represents a special project for Hughes. The writer/director intended the movie as a love letter to Chicago, and without Hughes’ passion to steer the project, a Ferris reboot would fall flat.
8 Masters of the Universe
Ok, so the original 1987 Masters of the Universe live-action movie isn’t exactly a classic. In fact, it’s cheap, stiff and downright silly at times. That hasn’t stopped the movie from accruing a devoted cult following, due in part to the enduring popularity of the He-Man toy line. Still, with the reboots of other 80s toy-movie-cartoon properties like Transformers, GI Joe and Thundercats, why, exactly, has Hollywood avoided a return trip to Eternia?
The problem boils down to two words: Development Hell. Hollywood has tried to reboot Masters of the Universe for more than 10 years, much as it rebooted the animated series in 2002. At various times, name talent like John Wu, Nicolas Cage, Justin Marks and Joel Silver have all been attached to the project, though each attempt at producing the film has stalled. Some of that might have to do with Mattel, the toy company which owns the rights to the series, demanding a certain amount of control over the film. Regardless, Sony Studios, which holds the option on the property, continues to sink dollars into development. Perhaps a reboot might happen some day after all.
7 West Side Story
If Hollywood can produce a hip-hop version of Annie, why in the world has it not rebooted the classic West Side Story as a grim and gritty tale of the streets? Yes, I seriously want to know why.
The original West Side Story snagged a whopping 10 Oscars, and critics still cite it as one of the best movie musicals ever. In a way, the story of two warring street gangs defined by race has an even greater resonance now than it did in 1961. In fact, a 2009 Broadway revival directed by writer Arthur Laurents tried to turn up the volume on the dark elements of the show. Laurents rewrote the book and lyrics to include more dialogue in Spanish (one of the gangs is Puerto Rican-based), and directed the actors to give a sharper, deadlier edge to their characters. Said revival opened to positive reviews and ran for two years, and has had powerful influence on subsequent productions around the world.
So why doesn’t Hollywood remake West Side Story? Maybe because at a time when most movie musicals focus on style and camp over substance, West Side Story demands a higher degree of integrity than studios can afford.
Sidney Pollack had a runaway hit with his comedy Tootsie, a film which starred Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange and Teri Garr in 1982. The story followed a struggling method actor named Michael Dorsey who has ruined his own career with his demanding personality. To cope, he begins dressing as a middle-aged woman, and suddenly finds himself at the peak of his career. His female alter-ego becomes America’s sweetheart, which complicates matters when Michael falls in love with his co-star.
Tootsie snagged Lange her first Oscar, and scored nine other nominations. The movie still often lands on best-of-all-time lists, begging the question: why does Hollywood not remake it?
Tootsie, for all its acclaim, doesn’t quite hold the cult status as the other films mentioned here. That it lacks a built-in audience might dissuade studios from trying a reboot, though the property does lend itself well to a weekly TV series. A man, living as a woman, trying to make it big in showbiz? How much fun would that be?!
5 Back to the Future
Let’s all pause here to breathe a collective sigh of relief… thank God! Moving on…
Back to the Future not only has a cult following on par with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, it also has earned a place as a modern masterpiece, a perfect blend of action, sci-fi and warmth. Perhaps the biggest miracle is that the series ended after the third movie (not counting the theme park ride or animated series), and that studio Universal hasn’t hounded director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale for Part IV! Rumors have circulated over the years that a potential fourth film had snuck into development, though Zemeckis and Gale have long said the story is meant to end as it did. The semi-retirement of star Michael J. Fox also, no doubt, has contributed to the lack of a fourth movie. After all, who’d want to see Back to the Future Part IV without Marty McFly?
So then, what about a reboot? Universal might well want one, and might someday get its way, though two names stand in the way: Zemeckis and Spielberg. Robert Zemeckis, as well as Bob Gale, has enjoyed wild success in Hollywood, and holds a good deal of influence—enough to block any potential reboot. Ditto Zemeckis’ mentor and the producer of the Back to the Future series, Steven Spielberg, who would likely ally with Zemekis should Universal try to proceed. A reboot might yet happen, but don’t count on it as long as Zemeckis or Spielberg are alive!
4 Escape From New York
John Carpenter had an unlikely hit with his 1981 sci-fi thriller Escape from New York. Starring Kurt Russell, the movie followed the adventures of “Snake” Plissen, a former soldier and convict, as he races to rescue the President of the United States from Manhattan, which has become a prison island. Despite the weird premise, the movie opened to positive reviews and strong box office. It became an overnight cult classic, and later spawned the sequel Escape from LA.
Given the renaissance for '80s camp and sci-fi, rebooting Escape From New York would seem like a given. Tinsel town has tried to reboot the film, as early as 2007 with Girard Butler, and later, Jeremy Renner, set to play the role of Snake. Reports have also named Brett Ratner (scream), Breck Eisner and Jonathan Mostow as possible directors, though as of yet, nobody has signed to helm the project. Much like Masters of the Universe, Hollywood chomps at the bit for an Escape from New York remake, though as of yet, hasn’t figured out a way to escape from Development Hell.
Jaws caused a sensation, seldom matched by any other movie released in the past 40 years. Three sequels later, the original movie still holds legendary status for its blockbuster box office haul, unrelenting suspense, and for being the first major hit for director Steven Spielberg. The movie still captivates audiences on DVD, television and in frequent theatrical showings. Could a reboot be far behind?
In the case of Jaws the answer is an unqualified yes. Much like the case of Back to the Future, Steven Spielberg’s enormous influence in Hollywood will likely block any attempt to reboot the series. Audiences too, have indicated that, though they love the original, viewers might not take well to any imitations. The three sequels to Jaws opened to negative reviews, and while each did turn a profit during their theatrical run, none enjoy the kind of fabled legacy of the initial film. No doubt modern special effects could help create all kinds of new action and trills in a Jaws reboot, but without Spielberg at the helm, what’s the point?!
2 The Goonies
Speaking of Steven Spielberg and cult masterpieces of film, The Goonies continues its legacy as one of the defining films of the 1980s. The story of a group of kids who go searching for pirate treasure, the movie helped popularize now-famous actors like Corey Feldman, Josh Brolin, Martha Plimpton and Sean Astin. So why no remake?
The answer could lay in Hollywood’s hopes for something even better: a sequel. Rumors of a second Goonies film have long circulated, and at various points Spielberg and director Richard Donner have both expressed interest in another outing. Donner, in particular, has repeatedly called a sequel a “definite” happening, the director has also explored the possibility of a Broadway musical adaptation. In recent interviews, however, Donner has again assured fans that a sequel will happen, and will reunite most of the original cast. Perhaps then, the reason Hollywood hasn’t tried to reboot The Goonies has less to do with a lack of interest, and more to do with hopes of building a franchise.
1 The Breakfast Club
Another John Hughes hit, The Breakfast Club became one of the defining films of the 1980s. Set in a High School detention hall, it brought notice to the young actors in the film, which included Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy. Perhaps no other movie in Hughes’ filmography better demonstrates the humor and sensitivity with which he treated his teenage protagonists.
Even 30 years after its debut, The Breakfast Club continues to influence films which focus on teenagers, and the movie maintains a rabid cult following today. Why then, has Hollywood not attempted to exploit said cult with a remake?
As the recent deluge of revivals and reboots demonstrate, the Hollywood studios have no problem messing with perfection, even to the point of diminishing returns. Like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, however, The Breakfast Club marks a very specific point in American popular culture. To remake the movie set in the modern day would lose some of the magic of the original, while a reboot set in the 1980s would rob the movie of the authenticity that made the original so resonant. Hollywood may yet try to reboot the film, but for now, The Breakfast Club remains sacred.
Any movies that you're glad haven't been remade? Tell us in the comments!