When filmmakers announce a new movie online, especially if it is an adaptation, sequel, or remake, it is a safe bet that among the first comments will be the statement, “Why are they making this? It does not need to be a movie.” I am here to tell you that those comments are incorrect and what the people actually mean is, “This does not interest me in the least and I don’t know why anyone finds it interesting.” That is a perfectly acceptable response. Not every film is for you, and that is ok, but just because you’re not interested, doesn’t mean the film should not exist.
Movies have been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. When I was little my mom worked days and my dad worked nights, meaning we only had family time on the weekends. Weekends mostly involved four things: doing yardwork and laundry, and watching football and movies. My parents were not big fans of either board or video games, so our family activity for my entire life (until the death of my father) was to watch movies together. For those of you old enough to not only remember Blockbuster, but also remember when they first rolled out their rewards program in 1999, normally you had to pay yearly price for it, much like the Nerdpocalypse premium feed. When the program began, they told us that we’d earned a lifetime membership into the rewards program at the gold level because the previous year we rented the fifth most movies from their store. We averaged renting a movie and a half every day that year, usually two or three a night in the summer because I could stay up later. That may sound crazy, but you’d be surprised to know that Blockbuster was only one of three places we rented movies. At that point, the demise of video stores had yet to begin. The following is an obvious statement, but it must be made: Not all of the 600 or so movies we saw that year were very good. My mom would watch anything and I was much closer to her than my dad who had no problem calling it a night when some horrible movie was on. Now, like most people who lose a parent, I would give anything just to watch and discuss a movie with my Dad again, the way we used to.
Maybe every movie is not a masterpiece and worth recommending, but many movies can inspire someone or bring a family together for 90+ minutes. If movies were required to have an A+ screenwriter, actors, director and cinematographer (oh and don’t forget--a strong message or tale that needs to be told and hasn’t been), a great year would see maybe five movies being released. There are billions of dollars to be made in movies, so I doubt the number of films made each year will ever change much, since you are never going to convince people to give up their livelihood. On the contrary, with cheaper avenues to cash, like direct to video on demand, we may see the number of films actually increase to what it was in the past when the studio plan was not so feast or famine with their budgets.
The easiest thing to rail against is the current remake culture that is taking Hollywood by storm. There have always been and always will be remakes, but they do seem to be more prevalent than ever before. Maybe it has something to do with the attention span of our country. As the average attention span decreases, people may be less likely to go back and watch old films. Maybe that old film is a true classic and should be seen by everyone. When it comes to remakes, I believe it is fair to be disinterested in an original film’s style of filmmaking that died out before you were born, or preferring to have a movie populated by actors you recognize. One has to be careful when approaching a remake, because there are times when the remake is the classic, or just as much of a classic as the original, such as the following examples:
The Thing From Another World vs. The Thing
Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed
The Fly (1958) vs. The Fly (1986)
Scarface (1932) vs. Scarface (1983)
Ocean’s 11 (1960) vs. Ocean’s 11 (2001)
Judge Dredd vs. Dredd
Seven Samurai vs. The Magnificent Seven (1960) vs. The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Remakes and adaptations (of which there are more than a dozen left to be released before the end of this year) are like everything else: do not judge them too quickly or you may miss out on something special. Instead of rushing to say, “This movie is a waste of time and money,” I suggest being hopeful that the target audience loves it and keeping your mind open. If the trailer looks good, or all the reviews are positive, consider giving it a chance. If you think a movie is a bad idea, and it turns out to be a big flop, it is perfectly acceptable to offer a hearty, “I told you so,” to the people who were excited for it. Some movies are great, some are horrible, and most are somewhere in the middle, but all deserve and need to be made. All movies (independent of quality) generate numerous jobs (covering everything from craft services to actors to spending an average of 40+ million on advertising per studio movie), countless memories and just might inspire the next generation of great filmmakers.