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Remakes of recent movies (1 Viewer)

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
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Mar 10, 2001
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I am sure this has been a topic on here before, but I haven't found it. My question to those "in the know" is why so many remakes of foriegn films are coming out...and by respected directors! I want to see Insomnia because I like Nolan and love Pacino's work. Then I find it is a remakes of a not-so-old movie that, yup, is in rotation on IFC (and now is stored in PVR for me). Vanilla Sky is a remake of another not-so-old film (almost new film, from the sound of it). So we go from remaking older films as new ones to remaking new films as newer ones and hope that American audiences won't know the difference (or find out that they aren't new). Is this a trend that will continue for some time? It's frustrating when there are so many sources for stories that they have to turn to freshly created works as a source for the Hollywood machine. Sad. Ideas? Why? Who to blame? Huh?
Phil
 

Garrett Lundy

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Hmm, remakes can be either good or bad. Are they original? Of course not. But, at any rate, there are two factors to play here...
The Almighty Dollar: The studio's, always looking to make more money (this is their job afterall), can either A: Take a chance with new material, or B: Remake a film. Since the film already exists, it's a pretty easy job to update it for modern day (example: Dark Castle's remakes of The House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts), or mearly change the native language / location (ie. Insomnia). Adding hot directors to projects like these also help cement big profits.
Acting: Movies that are remade, with little to no changes in the script, are usually made to show-off the acting chops of whomever stars in the movie, and the subtle techniques of directing skill. This isn't a bad thing, It's been the basis of live-theater since live-theater has been around. Can the "art" that is cinema really be hurt by too-mant versions of Shakespeare's Hamlet, or the courtroom drama 12 Angry Men? of course not, It mearly enriches with repetition.
So then... A remake of Insomnia, is it bad? Only if it's a bad film (In my opinion). and besides..if you like the original, it's available on DVD from Criterion.:)
 

Seth Paxton

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Well it does seem to be some new trend, but is it really?

2 examples that I immediately thought of were these:

1961 Yojimbo
1964 Fistful of Dollars


1954 Seven Samurai
1960 Magnificent Seven

I'd bet we could dig up plenty of example where films from one country suddenly become brand new films in another (esp H'wood) just a few years later.

As much as V Sky is "just like" Open Your Eyes, so is Fistful of Dollars just like Yojimbo, including indentical shots and dialog at times.
 

Mitty

Supporting Actor
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Jan 13, 1999
Messages
886
I wouldn't exactly lump these films in with Point of No Return, Three Men and a Baby, etc.
Sort of like Scorsese's Cape Fear, Vanilla Sky and Insomnia are movies remade by their respective directors based on a deep admiration for the originals, not necessarily a desire to cash in on a smash hit in another country.
Cameron Crowe even had Alejandro Amenabar in attendance at a premiere of Vanilla Sky.
Of course, one terrific benefit is that as a result of these films, more people will seek out the originals than otherwise would have.
 

Scott Weinberg

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I know very little about French cinema, but I think it's absolutely hysterical to see what American studios (mainly Touchstone) have produced when they appropriate some French comedy. I'm sure that not all of the original flicks are brilliant, but most of the American versions are wretched films. (I'll give non-wretched ones an *, so people don't think I'm insane.)
Les Fugitifs / Three Fugitives
Un indien dans la ville / Jungle 2 Jungle
Trois hommes et un couffin / Three Men and a Baby
La Cage aux folles / The Birdcage*
Boudo sauvé des eaux / Down and Out in Beverly Hills*
L' Homme qui aimait les femmes / The Man who Loved Women
Mon pére ce héros / My Father the Hero
Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire / The Man with One Red Shoe
Un moment d'egarement / Blame It on Rio
La Chévre / Pure Luck
Les Compéres / Father's Day
Le Jouet / The Toy
Les Visiteurs / Just Visiting
Yep, that's two asterisks. ;)
 

Holadem

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Le Grand blond avec une chaussure noire
I never knew this was remade! A terrific comedy. While I don't remember much of the storyline, I can think of one person that would be perfect for Pierre Richard's character: Michael Richards, if he becomes blond :)
--
Holadem
 

Jun-Dai Bates

Stunt Coordinator
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Aug 16, 1999
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148
I understand that Nolan actually wanted to remake the film. He saw the original, and felt that it would be such an interesting film to "Americanize". He suggested this to the studio, and they felt it would be a good idea, and gave him the go-ahead. So in this case it was Nolan's decision, and not just the studio trying to cash in on the success of a foreign film, making it accessible to those American's that refuse to read subtitles (the very same people that walked out of crouching tiger), as I imagine the case usually is.

Why Nolan feels this way is beyond me. I can only hope that his efforts will bring the original Insomnia into the awareness of those who never would have heard of it otherwise. He wanted to transform the film (I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know how different they really are), and he eschewed the visual style of the original entirely. Wally Pfister, the cinematographer, was watching the original film, and decided to stop it halfway through, because he didn't like the visual style. He felt it was over the top, and that the bright white light that pervades the film was thoroughly unsubtle. Personally, I can't imagine not liking that about the original film, but it will be interesting to see what he comes up with (I have my doubts about it, however).
 

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
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Having been a part of live theatre for a while (both on stage and in the audience) I appreciate the comparison. But while each city across the country has gobs of theatres big and small doing "Oklahoma" or "Romeo and Juliet" the very same movie that is in town A is playing in town B. There isn't as much in the way of studio dollars and movie-goer dollars to see the same drek again and again (I won't even get into the SAME movies being done at the SAME time...**ahem** Armageddon **ahem**). And I can't see the savings, really. They still have to pay some hack screenwriter to rewrite the damn thing which can take as long as writing an original one. Hell, there are gobs of original screenplays floating around Hollywood with writers who would give their left nut (if not given already to pay for food, etc.) to get a screenplay produced. Joe Notdiscovered has to cost less than a team of hacks writing and re-writing.

Wouldn't it be the height of savings just to distribute an existing foreign film? I know people walked out of "Crouching Tiger..." but a hell of a lot of people stuck around. People I would have swore would never watch a subbed movie swore up and down that "Life is Beautiful" could only be appreciated in the French.

One would think. But Hollywood doesn't think. It focus-groups ideas. Sheesh.

I don't really consider doing a japanese samurai film as a western to be a direct remake. I mean, there really aren't THAT many stories out there to tell (at least Aristotle thought that way) but how you tell it or where you tell it make it all the better. I mean, Blade Runner is a cop movie about a down and out cop out to get one last big grab.

Phil
 

Jun-Dai Bates

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People I would have swore would never watch a subbed movie swore up and down that "Life is Beautiful" could only be appreciated in the French.
Was it funnier in French than Italian? I'm sure you meant "in the Italian", right?

The reason that remakes are popular amongst studios, is because the idea behind the film is already known to be successful, and so they are marketing it to an audience that isn't aware of or hasn't seen the original. To invest in a new script from an unknown writer is risky, but to invest in adapting an already successful film (or novel) is not nearly as much so. Thus we have Insomnia and Vanilla Sky, as well as remakes of older films like Psycho.
 

Mark Pfeiffer

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Jun 27, 1999
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1,339
Wouldn't it be the height of savings just to distribute an existing foreign film?
Sure, if people went to see the foreign film. Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes) played here for a week when it was out. I'd bet more people saw Vanilla Sky in one showing than saw Open Your Eyes that entire week. Simply put, unless it's a foreign film that has that tough-to-pin-down "buzz", foreign films often do not perform very well. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Life is Beautiful were cultural phenomenons, but even something like the reasonably popular Amelie, the highest grossing French film on American soil, has made just shy of $33 million.

To put this in perspective, here are some of the foreign film domestic grosses as listed on IMDB:

Maelstrom--$33,410
Suzhou River--$96,330
Insomnia--$221,173
Yi Yi--$235,951
Dark Blue World--$251,943
Open Your Eyes--$368,234
The School of Flesh--$401,786
The Eel--$413,793
Venus Beauty Institute--$416,464
The Vertical Ray of the Sun--$456,387
The Taste of Others--$635,282
Fat Girl--$663,483
Metropolis--$673,414
A Time for Drunken Horses--$700,159
Faithless--$734,597
The Devil's Backbone--$754,749
Chunhyang--$798,220
The Princess and the Warrior--$871,058
Va Savoir--$907,323
Children of Heaven--$925,402
The Son's Room--$944,477
Together--$1.032
No Man's Land--$1.054 million
The King of Masks--$1.104 million
The Road Home--$1.28 million
Romance--$1.282 million
Divided We Fall--$1.32 million
Under the Sand--$1.45 million
Live Flesh--$1.535 million
The Celebration--$1.647 million
Girl on the Bridge--$1.708 million
The Dreamlife of Angels--$1.726 million
The Color of Paradise--$1.81 million
Three Seasons--$2.019 million
Autumn Tale--$2.082 million
Ma Vie En Rose--$2.28 million
Princess Mononoke--$2.298 million
Himalaya--$2.481 million
In the Mood for Love--$2.734 million
East-West--$2.775 million
The Widow of Saint Pierre--$3.058 million
Malena--$3.429 million
With a Friend Like Harry--$3.818 million
Breaking the Waves--$4.04 million
The Dinner Game--$4.065 million
Italian for Beginners--$4.086 million
La Femme Nikita--$5.017 million
Amores Perros--$5.383 million
Kolya--$5.73 million
The Closet--$6.671 million
Run Lola Run--$7.267 million
All About My Mother--$8.264 million
Shall We Dance?--$9.676 million
Y Tu Mama Tambien--$10.235 million
Monsoon Wedding--$10.458 million
Brotherhood of the Wolf--$10.928 million
Il Postino--$20.7 million
Like Water for Chocolate--$21.665 million
Life is Beautiful--$57.598 million
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon--$128.067 million
 

Herm C

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jun 14, 2001
Messages
132
May I humbly submit that in some ways remakes of good foreign films promotes the ignorance of mainstream audiences. It seems that Hollywood is trying to pull the wool over the public eyes in Insomnia's case. The mainstream audience is largely ignorant of foreign films and by HW re-making them is just poor taste not to mention that the fact that HW can't seem to come up with original ideas anymore.

Other examples here are Spoorloos (aka The Vanishing) and Nightwatch, both outstanding foreign films that didn't need to be "bastardized"

Just MHO.
 

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
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Mar 10, 2001
Messages
1,188
Oops...I did indeed mean "Italian." All the talk of French films made me make the slip. Thanks for the assist. :b On the other hand, the French track with Italian subs...it is hi-larious.

Phil
 

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
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Mar 10, 2001
Messages
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Okay, I like the whole "It was marketed successfully before" angle. That makes sense, but only if one assumes the tastes in foriegn markets is similar to American tastes (which I would question) but I see the point. Especially compared to other mediums...like translating successful books into movies. I guess what is amazing me is that the people doing this remakes (lately) tend to be people I would think could come up with something more original. Nolan's Memento was an amazing film, both creatively and technically and for a while is the "it boy" because of it. You would think they would even try to push the envelope even more... but not to be. Cameron Crowe..comes off of some very successful screenplays and the hip Almost Famous and follows that up with...another remake. What is odd is that they are remakes of currently hot directors who are, in fact, coming to Hollywood themselves, right? At least when they did a remake of Luc Besson's La Femme Nakita he at least made it himself (didn't help it, but still...). That seems odd, as well. And again, wouldn't THAT be cheaper? I can accept the whole "we don't need to focus group this film because 1 million Europeans ate this movie up alive over there" but then to put such an "it" director as Nolan or Crowe on the case would jack the cost up again, one would think.
Hurm...
Phil
 

MichaelAW

Second Unit
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Apr 14, 2002
Messages
422
Luc Besson did not direct (or have anything to do with) Point of No Return. John Badham directed that one.
 

Tim Hoover

Screenwriter
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May 27, 2001
Messages
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Let us also not forget how Hollywood took Wim Wenders' beautifully haunting "Wings Of Desire" and then simultaneously sapped it up and dumbed it down to become the painfully mushy "City Of Angels" :frowning:
 

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